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Kapiti Horowhenua Business Hall of Fame

Kapiti Horowhenua Business Hall of Fame Inducts Two Prominent Businessmen

Two prominent and highly successful local businessmen and community leaders have been inducted into the Kapiti Horowhenua Business Hall of Fame.

Mac Tatana and John O’Sullivan were inducted into the Hall of Fame at this year’s Electra Kapiti Horowhenua Business Awards Gala Dinner on Friday 9 October 2015, bringing the number of business people admitted to the Hall to eighteen.

Johnston Mac Tatana: Hard Working Businessman and Community Leader

On his fifteenth birthday Mac Tatana left secondary school with no formal qualifications and began his working life. Even today his only formal qualification is a drainlayer’s licence, but he believes his most important “qualification” is a certificate from the “School of Hard Knocks”.

Mac admits that he’s had to work hard for his success, making many sacrifices along the way - from precious time with his family, to sport and other past-times. Heavily dependent on payments from debtors, and working six days a week to survive, life was tough in the early days – especially with the added pressure of a mortgage and a young family.

Inheriting a second hand concrete mixer from older brother Alec, Mac embarked on his first job in September 1964 – securing the contract to carry out curbing and channelling work and a nib wall for a subdivision in Kings Drive, Levin.

This led to several years of curb and channel work on footpaths, mainly for the Levin Borough Council, still using the second hand gear from Alec and with a hired trailer. After several years he was able to buy his first excavator, secured with a very expensive loan, which he hired out to other local operators when not in use.

Today, Tatana Contracting Limited remains a family business based in Cambridge Street, Levin undertaking a wide range of civil engineering projects throughout the lower North Island. A Tatana company, Anzel, has the New Zealand franchise for an extremely modern technology pipe lining system.

A strong feature of Mac’s life has been his association with the Matau Marae, where he has become a highly respected Koroua (elder) of the Marae, providing leadership, guidance and a positive influence. He was a driving force in a ten year project to rebuild the marae after the original one was nearly destroyed in the Wahine storm.

Mac is a Life member of the Levin Cosmopolitan Club, an honour he received for many years of practical support with both contractor machinery and skills at countless working bees.

But most importantly, having missed valuable time with his six children in his younger years, Mac is thrilled to be able to spend time with his grandchildren today.

John O’Sullivan: Visionary Entrepreneur

John O’Sullivan grew up in Kapiti and attended St Patrick’s School and Kapiti College before completing his secondary studies St Patrick’s College, Silverstream. Then, armed with a commerce degree from Victoria University, he embarked on a 14 year career with Lion Breweries in hotel management, before spending what he calls his “best four years ever” at home with his children while his wife Rosie returned to work.

It was during this time that John began to develop his concept for what would eventually become a multi-million dollar retirement village business.

Driven by a desire to “create a retirement village community my grandmother would happily call home” and with its beginnings on a Levin property, Summerset Village in Whanganui was born, followed by Kapiti and then Palmerston North.

By the time Summerset was sold for $125 million in 2006, the business was a household name in New Zealand with 10 villages and 3 land banks. Today, the business that John created is a listed company with 25 villages nationwide.

John has always believed in supporting locals and putting back into the community. He is proud of the fact that, from the beginning, trades and professional suppliers to Summerset were encouraged to own shares in the company. Throughout John’s 167 months at the helm of Summerset, its contractors were always paid on time, while many local companies that got their start in being suppliers to Summerset have gone on to create successful businesses in their own right.

John has had a long history of active involvement in the Kapiti community. While his children were growing up he was on the Board of Trustees for the primary school, the committee of the Waikanae Recreation Centre and a Treasurer for his local scout group.

Today he is the Chair of the committee planning the relocation of the school and churches of Our Lady of Kapiti Parish to its new site on Milne Drive.

Ten years ago John launched the Amnico Foundation, an organisation that focuses on the support and education of youth. Among other things Amnico is the principal sponsor of Youth Quest, and has also helped put young men through St Patrick’s College, Silverstream.

John says that of all the things he has done, he is most proud of the difference he is helping make in these young people’s lives.


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