OPINION: Hearing sharebroker Sir Eion Edgar talk about his local projects makes you realise how enriched Queenstown is by people of his ilk.
Private tertiary institution Queenstown Resort College and the Winter Games wouldn’t exist without him.
Sure, QRC is a money-making venture, but one with significant benefit to the local and national tourism industry.
He’s also put his money where his mouth is to support the likes of the Queenstown Trails Trust and the remodelled Queenstown Memorial Centre.
Another knight, Arrowtown jewellery entrepreneur Sir Michael Hill, is very much in the same vein.
He’s hosted and sponsored major golf tournaments ever since opening his championship course in his backyard in 2007.
The televising of the NZ Open in March at his course, The Hills, and adjacent Millbrook Resort will provide tremendous promotion for this area.
Hill’s also opened The Hills for fundraisers, especially his beloved Cure Kids charity, and has aspirations to further develop the course as a sculptural park.
He’s also been a major patron of the arts through hosting a biennial international violin competition in Queenstown and Auckland – stand by for the next one in June.
Edgar and Hill now face big-league competition in the philanthropic stakes from American couple Debbi and Paul Brainerd.
The couple, who own property near Glenorchy, are redeveloping the township’s holiday park and ploughing profits back into a community trust.
Desktop publishing pioneer Paul and Debbi have already established their philanthropic cred through environmental and social projects in America’s Pacific Northwest.
Another amazing local benefactor is the Peter Wilding Estate.
Formed after the death of the Lake Hayes farmer/developer, it’s made substantial bequests to the Wakatipu High School Foundation, Queenstown Trails Trust, Queenstown Memorial Centre redevelopment and the Wakatipu Rowing Club.
Early this month, this newspaper recognised another big benefactor, Jeff Turner, who died at Christmas.
He was a driving force behind setting up the Cure Kids charity, among other community contributions.
Another business heavyweight who’s heavily supported the community is Jim Boult, who was recognised in the New Year’s honours list.
Eight years ago, local developer John Martin got the community out of a hole in a novel gesture.
Arrowtowners were upset at their town’s famous miners’ cottages slipping into disrepair.
So Martin snaffled them off their owner, the late Eamon Cleary, for $1.9 million, and on-sold them to the local council at no extra cost.
But the most novel benefactor must be the anonymous one who keeps commissioning sculptures for the Kelvin Peninsula walkway.
So far there’ve been wild goats, a ‘static kinetic sculpture’ and a ‘tree spirit’.
But wait, there’s more – the benefactor apparently has consent to donate another six sculptures on the walkway.