By PHILIP CHANDLER
A legendary Kiwi banker who died last week, aged 80, spent his retirement years at a much-cherished Queenstown rural pad.
Harry Price, under whose leadership Westpac grew into New Zealand’s largest bank, retired with his wife Margaret to their Dalefield property about 20 years ago, after buying two adjacent lifestyle blocks.
His daughter, Glenn Baillie-Price, says ‘Rivendell’ became Harry’s ‘‘retreat and living masterpiece’’.
‘‘His days were spent stacking wood, mowing the extensive lawns, raking leaves, working through water issues and looking after the now well-developed gardens which have been mistaken more than once by tourists as a park.’’
He spent time with family, including grandchildren, and enjoyed visiting Dunedin, where he and Margaret hailed from.
Favourite local haunts included Frankton Arm Tavern, for pub meals, Millbrook, for Sunday lunches, and The Cow, where ‘Her Majesty’s Pleasure’ was his favourite pizza.
Having first joined the former Bank of New South Wales in 1961, Harry was a loyal Westpac employee for 40 years, culminating in seven years as CEO before a short stint in Sydney.
He grew its NZ market share by acquiring Trust Bank for $1.3 billion in ’96.
He also worked tirelessly to ensure the bank retained as much autonomy as possible from its Aussie parent, and successfully had it listed on the NZ sharemarket.
‘‘Basically, I don’t want to see this bank do what all the others have done, and that is every thing ends up in Australia,’’ he said in his last year in charge.
Harry was also ahead of his time in promoting women in the profession.
In a tribute, former employee Stu Woollett writes: ‘‘Harry was an excellent CEO and the last of the real leaders who worked from shop floor to top floor by the power of character, intelligence and pure horsepower — no fancy school, impressive qualifications, and smooth talking …
‘‘Everyone who followed was in his shadow, literally and figuratively.’’
He’s survived by Margaret, his daughters Glenn and Kristen, and their respective families.