John Buck, chairman of Hawke's Bay winery Te Mata Estate, has been awarded a Companion of New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for his work in wine and the arts.
The New Year’s honour recognises Buck’s leadership role in the New Zealand wine industry, helping to establish Hawke’s Bay Vintners (now Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers) and serving as chairman of the New Zealand Wine Institute from 1991 to 1996.
Under his leadership, the institute developed an export strategy, targeting NZ$100m of export sales by the year 2000; dismissed by some as fantasy, it reached its goal with a year to spare.
Buck, 70, bought Te Mata Estate in 1974 after he and business partner Michael Morris spent several years searching for vineyard sites suited to making fine Cabernet/Merlot and Chardonnay wines.
Since then, Te Mata has planted or acquired nine vineyard sites in the area, producing its wines from a total estate of 260 hectares and exporting them to well over 30 countries.
Buck, who was inducted into the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame last year, helped to establish the Hawke’s Bay Charity Wine Auction in 1991.
The CNZM award also recognises his contribution to the arts in establishing the New Zealand Poet Laureate award, and in the restoration and success of the Hawke’s Bay Opera House.
‘I’ve always believed that New Zealand wine, and the arts, can foot it with the world’s best,’ Buck said.
‘All I’ve ever done is put that belief into practice. It’s been a pleasurable challenge.’
Written by Richard Woodard