Queenstown could miss a trick with bickering over a convention centre, veteran businessman Jim Boult warns.
Boult – who was honoured with a lifetime achievement award, and a standing ovation, at Saturday’s – sits firmly on the fence over who should build the centre.
But he says it’s a must-have for the town.
“Queenstown needs a convention centre,” he tells Mountain Scene.
“And whether it’s a privately-owned one or owned by the council is beside the point.
“For the future development of the town there’s a screaming case for it now.
“We will miss a major opportunity if we don’t get on and get something done – either publicly or privately – in the next year or two.”
Boult – a member of the Shaping Our Future steering group – also comments on the town’s transport issues, which he says are “becoming a major”.
He says there was talk in Queenstown when he moved here in 1982 about the single-lane Kawarau Falls Bridge being replaced – and only now is something being done about it.
“We’ve got to be smarter than that. We’ve got to address these issues sooner than we have in the past.”
Given he’s the former chief executive of Christchurch International Airport, Boult’s hot on what’s happening at Queenstown’s airport.
He doesn’t offer an immediate answer but says the airport continues to grow and will one day reach saturation point, adding: “There is a need to find a better solution to getting people in and out of the town.”
Boult’s business and personal history was traversed at Saturday night’s function at Skyline Queenstown’s restaurant.
Many will remember his ventures, including managing Mountain Scene, and his involvement with Frankton Hotel, Queenstown Resorts and Shotover Jet, as well as developments at Lake Hayes and Luggate.
Most recently he was chief executive of Christchurch International Airport – steering the company through the earthquakes and a major terminal upgrade.
Less well-known exploits, we’re told, include his nickname “Mrs Doubtfire” – because of his prowess with a vacuum cleaner – and his party trick of “walking” for long distances on his hands.
The son of a tailor, Boult grew up in Invercargill and passed pilot’s licence on his 16th birthday.
The engineering firm building Tiwai Point aluminium smelter offered him an office job when he was 18 and at 24 he became Marac Finance’s youngest branch manager.
In 1982 he married Karen and moved to Queenstown.
Boult says he agrees with those who say Queenstown’s not the same as their childhood memories, adding: “It’s not the same; it’s a bloody sight better than it used to be.”
In 1982 – when there were only 3000 people in the resort – he says there was no supermarket, the hospital was a ramshackle house at Frankton and air transport was via the Hawker Siddeley, otherwise known as the “vomit comet”.
Another feature back then was the manual telephone exchange system.
Boult recalls his oldest sister rang one day, and after trying his home and office number the operator said she’s spied Boult in his car earlier.
“I think he’s down at Eichardt’s, I’ll put you through there,” the operator said.
Boult recalls: “That’s where I was.”
In Saturday’s presentation video, friends dubbed Boult as “very competitive”, someone who “likes making dust, not eating dust” and a devoted family man.
He had a hand in raising money for the Queenstown Events Centre and the construction of the Lake Hayes track.
Chamber of Commerce chairman Charlie Phillips called Boult brave – having made some courageous and sometimes controversial decisions.
“Blokes like you make things happen. At the end of the day, champions do just whatever it takes to get a result.”
Boult tells Mountain Scene: “When I got home my wife said to me you look a bit gobsmacked – and I said, well I am.
“Getting a standing ovation like that was very emotional.
“Having lived here for 30-plus years, yes, I’ve had quite an input in various things around the town but after a while you get to think it’s just business as usual and you don’t think about what’s going on.
“Suddenly to have people recognise what has happened over those 30 years is humbling. To have my family there as well was a very special experience.”