Businessman and philanthropist Alan Gibbs will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Canterbury tomorrow.

The former Auckland entrepreneur and art collector will graduate alongside 1200 University of Canterbury graduands at a ceremony tomorrow.

Mr Gibbs is being recognised with the Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree for developing and commercialising the world's first high speed amphibious vehicle technology.

Mr Gibbs said it would be a great honour to receive an honorary doctorate from the university where he graduated.


"My university days were spent in the old campus, now the Arts Centre, which was a major architectural attraction. It's a great tragedy that it suffered so much damage."

"I have great deal of affection for Christchurch. I was born in the Cashmere hills and we had a holiday house in Akaroa. I was confirmed in the ChristChurch Cathedral and my capping photo was taking outside the cathedral.

Between the late 1970s and mid-1990s, Gibbs was active in restructuring inefficient businesses such as New Zealand Forestry Corporation and, more significantly, Telecom so that their best elements could survive and prosper in competitive markets.

He helped establish New Zealand's first pay television channel, Sky TV, and was a key to the development of Auckland's Viaduct Harbour.

As a generous supporter of the arts, he and his former wife Dame Jenny Gibbs established the NEW Gallery in Auckland and were founding donors to Te Papa.