Our People

Rotorua is world famous. Since the 1830s international visitors have enjoyed Rotorua’s natural geothermal wonders and Maori cultural experiences. Rotorua has built a successful reputation as an iconic tourism destination, renowned for its welcoming hospitality – referred to in Maori as ‘manaakitanga’ (mar-nah-key-tongue-are).

The city maintains a strong Maori Cultural heritage. The local tribe (iwi) is Te Arawa who has gifted substantial amounts of land to benefit the entire Rotorua community. There is a strong bicultural partnership between local government and Te Arawa.

Rotorua has an increasingly cosmopolitan character while leveraging the district’s bi-cultural strengths to provide a welcoming environment for locals and visitors.

Rotorua has many inspirational and passionate people. We acknowledge them for their inspiration, leadership and legacy! Here are a few:



Rotorua is home to a number of medium to large businesses, located mostly to take advantage of the city and region’s special advantages.

We celebrate our enterprenuers who have being instrumental in strengthening our district’s performance across all sectors of business including Forestry and Wood Processing, Tourism, Geothermal, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Education and Professional Services.

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce introduced “Rotorua’s Hall of Fame” in 2008 acknowledging business leaders in our community:



Malcolm Short, winner of Red Stag Timber Business Person of the Year Award for 2015.

A highlight of his career was leading the negotiations that secured the return in 1993 of Rotorua's railway land from the Crown to descendants of its original iwi donors.

Malcolm Short has chaired the Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust since 1982. In 1982, the trust reported annual income of $14,421 on an asset base of $2.3 million - barely enough to cover expenses. The Pukeroa Oruawhata Group now manages more than 175 commercial and residential leases largely focused in Rotorua's central business district. Last year the group generated gross revenues of $12.6 million and returned more than $628,000 to iwi shareholders and the community from an asset base that has grown to $171 million.

Malcolm originally took six months off his university studies when his mother asked him to come home and help out in the family transport business after his father suffered a heart attack. He ended up running the business for almost four decades.

As well as steering Pukeroa Oruawhata, Mr Short chairs the Ngati Whakaue Education Endowment Trust. The trust administers 92 leasehold properties gifted by Pukeroa Oruawhata to help fund local education needs. It has returned more than $1.7 million in the past 12 months and more than $13 million over the past 15 years.

Malcolm was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2006 for services to the Maori community.


2014 - Deryck Shaw

Deryck Shaw was named Rotorua Business Person of the Year in 2014, a member of the NZ Order of Merit in 2014, and is a distinguished alumnae of the University of Waikato. He is also a chartered director of the NZ Institute of Directors, member of the New Zealand Association of Economists and an associate fellow of the NZ Institute of Management.

He currently chairs the Lakes District Health Board and is deputy chairman of Te Puia (New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute), a director of CTAS, the national shared services health organisation and of NZ Health Benefits, and a member of the national executive of District Health Boards of NZ.


2013 - Mike Steiner

Mike Steiner, owner operator of Steiners, Interiors by Reputation has been a retailer in Rotorua for 50 years.

Mike has been instrumental in leading the Inner City Focus Group and the initiatives aimed at revitalising the city.


2012- Judith Stanway

Judith Stanway has been Chair of BDO Spicers New Zealand; managing partner of BDO Rotorua; Deputy Chair of Te Puia; Director of Lakeland Health, Scion and the Charities Commission; and Chair of Lakes District Health Board and the Rotorua Primary Health Organisation. She is an Accredited Fellow of the Institute of Directors, a Chartered Accountant, and holder of a Masters in Economics.

Under her stewardship, BDO grew from 39 partners and seven individually owned firms to 65 partners and 12 firms. She has worked with the forestry sector for many years, including holding director’s positions on timber processing companies.

She has governance experience in tourism and charitable trusts and has been the President of the Rotary Club of Rotorua Sunrise. As a Rotarian, she provided leadership for the establishment of an endowment fund for Hospice Rotorua at the Geyser Community Foundation and the setting up of Charity’s, a shop to raise funds for community organisations.

As an accountant she has worked with not-for-profit businesses, charities, and Maori trusts and has lectured at various universities and polytechnics.

Judith and Ross Stanway have four daughters who are extremely successful young women:  an accountant, a dermatologist, a teacher and writer, and a communications executive. Judith and Ross have eight grandchildren.


2011 - Joe LA GROUW

Joe La Grouw CNZM is the Chairman and owner of the Lockwood Group, Joinery Direct and La Grouw Corporation. He ran businesses in Taupo and Auckland before moving back to Rotorua to join the Lockwood team. He has been instrumental in developing the company to considerable international success and has been committed to maintaining the Lockwood manufacturing plant and company offices in Rotorua.

Joe is regarded as the elder statesman of the Rotorua Business Leaders Group and in this role he often leads delegations to the Rotorua District Council to promote economic development concepts. He played a prominent role in the formation in 2004 of Vision Rotorua, a pan business economic development lobby group.

In 2011 he was a key member of the project group that developed the Rotorua Economic Growth Strategy which was adopted by the Rotorua District Council. In the same year he was appointed as the Chairman of the Bank of New Zealand’s Partners Centre Central Plateau. In this role he will provide the bank with a voice of the community and share his tremendous entrepreneurial experience with clients.

As part of his major contribution to the Rotorua District he took on the role of inaugural Chairman of the Geyser Community Foundation. Joe and his wife Jo-Anne have been active supporters in the Rotorua community, sponsoring the Lockwood Aria, Lakeside Concerts, the Energy Event Centre, and many other local initiatives.


2010 - Warren harFORD

Warren Harford is a Director of Agrodome 2011 Ltd and of Lakeland Queen Cruises, two of Rotorua’s best-known tourist attractions. The Agrodome was started in 1971 by George Harford (Warren’s father) and Godfrey Bowen (father of another current shareholder, Paul Bowen). The Agrodome, situated on a sheep farm 10 km north of Rotorua, became a reality after Godfrey produced a sheep shearing show at the 1970 World Expo in Osaka, Japan.

In 1983, Warren Harford and Paul Bowen joined the Agrodome management team to start the second generation of family input in the business. Warren took responsibility for marketing and general management. In 1994, the Agrodome won the NZ Tourism Award for Best Visitor Attraction and in 1996 the Tokyo Agrodome which can seat 1,600 was opened.

The NZ Agrodome gives international visitors a hands-on, live experience of farming and an interaction with their commercially farmed animals including sheep, goats, cattle, deer, alcapas and ostriches.

Warren has been a member of New Zealand’s Inbound Tourism Operators Council for about 20 years and the Chair of the Rotorua Tourism Board. In 2010 ITOC gave Warren and award for outstanding services to the New Zealand tourism industry. Warren gives credit to his staff for the record turn-over achieved by the company during the economic downturn. In 2011, the Agrodome entered into a new partnership with the South Island iwi group, Ngai Tahu Tourism.


2009 - scott thompson

Scott Thompson was born in Rotorua and has worked here for 40 years. He started his career in the trades, and then bought and developed Damar Industries into a large coatings, chemicals and aerosols manufacturing business which became the Rotorua Business of the Year in 1996. Damar has also twice been voted the Bay of Plenty’s best manufacturer. Scott developed the light industrial Eastgate Business Park in Rotorua and moved his company there in 2002. He is a partner in Parklands Estate, an environmentally friendly gated lifestyle residential development close to the heart of Rotorua.

Damar focuses on the manufacturing of road and forestry marking paints, contract manufacturing of aerosols, liquid and powder products, putties, fillers and specialist coatings. The acquisition of Andrew Chemicals moved Damar into solvent packing and marketing to industrial users and retail consumers. They also pack and market pool care chemicals under the Pool Pride brand. At 10 million aerosol cans per year, Damar is the largest producer of aerosol products in NZ and they also export to Australia, Korea, South Africa, England and the Philippines.

Scott is very concerned about the environment and an onsite water-treatment plant at Damar ensures that no toxins can pollute the waterways and lakes. Scott and his wife Bev are very supportive of the local community and proud to be major sponsors of the Rotorua Energy Events Centre.


2008 - phil verry (1941 - 2009)

Phil Verry CA was the Executive Chairman of Waipa Corporation and Red Stag Timber. When he purchased the Waipa Mill in 2003 there was a shadow over the future of its 250 employees. Phil’s turnaround strategies doubled Waipa’s production and took it to a position of industry leadership as the largest sawmill in NZ.

He was the first Chairman of NZ Wood Innovations (Asia) which partnered with NZ Trade and Enterprise to establish the NZ Wood Innovation centre in Shanghai to showcase NZ Pine to the Chinese market.

Phil devoted much effort to developing the Interest Linked Savings Scheme, a solution designed to provide an effective methodology for the operation of Reserve Bank Monetary Policy to foster economic growth.

He established many new business ventures and acted as consulted to private sector and government agencies. Red Stag was a Foundation Partner of the Rotorua District Council and provided strong sponsorship to the Energy Event Centre.

Before moving to Rotorua Phil was a senior partner at Coopers and Lybrand in Wellington. He made a major contribution to the establishment of SPELD, an organisation that supports people with learning disabilities. He played leading roles in the wool industry, developing a strategic solution for the sell-down of wool stockpiles in Australia and New Zealand and chairing Merino New Zealand which established a distinct identity for NZ merino wool.



Johannes (Joe) La Grouw OBE was an architect, engineer, businessman, artist and philanthropist. He developed a patented house manufacturing system constructed of solid wood that became a New Zealand housing icon.

Joe and Johannes Van Loghem, the co-founders of Lockwood Homes, began their company in 1951 by importing prefabricated homes from the Netherlands. They soon realised that New Zealand’s vast timber resources offered unlimited potential for natural wood houses. They designed and built timber houses with interlocking joints which can survive the harshest conditions, including the 1974 Darwin cyclone and the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.

By the 1980s, Lockwood was one of the country’s biggest home providers. It also exported widely. In 1989, John van Loghem was bought out, giving the La Grouw family total ownership of Lockwood.

Apart from houses, Lockwood buildings include the NZ pavilion at a World Expo, commercial buildings, and a Maori meeting house. Opening the 50-year tribute to Lockwood in 2006, Prime Minister Helen Clark said: ”Lockwood has earned a special place in our history, for its design innovation and for the scale of its business. This company has boosted the local economy, creating jobs and opportunities for other businesses.”

Joe became a Companion of the NZ Order of Merit for services to business and the community. Over many years he gave generously of his time and funds to Rotorua organisations.




With our great outdoors, excellent facilities and strong support it's no wonder Rotorua produces world-famous sports people across all sporting disciplines. We’re very proud of all of our sporting achievers including our past and present Olympic champions and world champions:

  • Julia Edward - 2015 World Rowing Champs gold medallist
  • Valerie Adams – 2012 Olympic shot put gold medalist; 2013 World Champion
  • Sam Sutton – 2012, 2011, 2010 3rd time consecutive world extreme kayak champion
  • Lachlan Stevens-McNabb – 2011, 2010 UCI BMX world champion
  • Ruia Morrison – first New Zealand woman to compete at Wimbledon 57, 58, 59 and 1960
  • Sam Bewley – 2008 Summer Olympics cyclist bronze medalist
  • Dame Susan Devoy - 1990, 1992 World Open squash champion
  • Buck (Wayne) Shelford – 1987 Rugby World Cup champion