Paul Adams – the founder of the city’s biggest land developer Carrus Corp – has been knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his services to philanthropy.
Sir Paul has played an influential role in the city for decades and is seen by the business community as a major driving force behind the city’s growth, and in particular for his role in helping bring the new University of Waikato campus to Tauranga’s downtown.
University of Waikato senior deputy vice chancellor Alister Jones told Bay of Plenty Business News that Sir Paul had been “a passionate advocate” for both the University of Waikato and Tauranga.
“He has been extremely supportive of the university’s developments in Tauranga and he is constantly engaged in enhancing the way the university can make a positive contribution to this rapidly advancing city,” said Professor Jones.
Until a year ago Sir Paul was a member of the University Council and he is the current Chair of the Campus Development Committee.
“His time, guidance and advice through the campus development period was highly valued, as are his on-going direct contributions to the wider university expansion. Paul and his wife Cheryl provided a very timely and generous gift to establish and accelerate the development of a high performance sports research institute, and to facilitate the development of sport and health interdisciplinary teaching and research programmes. He also facilitated links between the University of Waikato and the University of California.”
Among his other charitable and business roles, Sir Paul also served as chair of Accessible Properties from its establishment as a wholly owned subsidiary of IHC New Zealand in 2010 until last year. Accessible Properties is now the largest non-government social housing provider in New Zealand.
Accessible Properties chief executive Greg Orchard said Sir Paul’s commitment to providing good quality housing and tenancy services to people in need had been unwavering.
“Sir Paul has long been a force in the housing space and is particularly well-known for developments in the Bay of Plenty and beyond to Wellington,” says Greg.
“But his influence reaches far beyond his business interests – he has generously given his time and energy to social support organisations and Accessible Properties.”
Sir Paul and his older brother were brought up by his mother, a tailoress, in a state house in the Hutt Valley after his parents split up when he was 11. He has noted in past interviews that while there was generally enough food to put on the table, there were few extras for solo mothers then.
After going to Naenae College he worked as an engineering cadet with the Wellington Harbour Board, and qualified as a civil engineer, as well as gaining qualifications in business management and dispute resolution.
After 10 years in the construction industry, he became the biggest player in the Bay of Plenty kiwifruit industry, owning or managing 45 orchards and 10 packhouses and coolstores, and employing 200 people. From that he moved into property development with Carrus Corp, and went on to become the largest land developer in the Bay of Plenty, later expanding the business to Hamilton, Rotorua, Taupo and Wellington.
Sir Paul said in a recent news report on his knighthood that “sooner or later, socialists run out of other people’s money”, but that being recognised for his philanthropy was humbling.
“I’m a capitalist and a private enterprise person, but I have a social conscience,” he said, adding that capitalism worked best when it was combined with a social conscience.
In recent years his social endeavours have taken priority over his business activity. as well as his role until recently in chairing Accessible Properties, and the Campus Development Committee, he made major contributions to revamping the Bay Oval cricket ground, and the Adams High Performance Sports Centre.
He also served on the governing bodies of organisations including state-owned enterprise Kordia, Te Kura Correspondence School, Tauranga Boys’ College and the Elms Foundation.
He is chair of Tauranga’s Civic Amenities Group, which is seeking to provide civic amenities lacking in Tauranga’s CBD, including a new civic centre, performing arts centre, museum, hotel and a sports/entertainment stadium. Sir Paul is a patron of Waipuna Hospice and Te Tuinga Whanau Support Trust.
He was also a founding director of Tauranga’s economic development agency Priority One.
Sir Paul would like to see more successful people turning their hands to philanthropy.
Accessible Properties Greg Orchard said that in Tauranga particularly, Sir Paul was involved in a network of social and iwi groups determined to end homelessness in the city.
“He knows what a difference a good home makes and he won’t sit by and watch people suffer.”