From 1978-1982, Ray Parker was one of a particularly dynamic group of students at St Peter’s College. In school they felt comfortable pushing the boundaries, both academically and with co-curricular activities. It was encouraged to take part in all of the activities on offer and the co-hort competed enthusiastically in the Eisteddfod, the Bishop’s Shield, School musical, House competitions and in a full range of sporting activities.
Ray was a boarder in the SPC Hostel and remembers his school days as happy and challenging. Outside of school hours he recalls many memorable outings with one of the Brothers at the wheel of the school minibus, setting off for a favourite swimming hole or a keenly contested table tennis match. Many lifelong friendships were formed in these years, not least with classmate Sharon Corcoran, who later became his wife.
Ray's story continues below
Life in the Hostel provided a very structured day. There was no time for TV, and study and revision could become group activities where ideas sparked back and forth.
Ray came from a farming background in Roxburgh, but these were hard years for farmers, so he took extra lessons in accountancy at Gore High School in years 12 and 13, as it wasn’t then available at St Peter’s.
He went on to gain a scholarship to Otago University from an accountancy firm in Invercargill and went back south to work for them as a chartered accountant, after graduation.
A return to Dunedin found him working for a client who started buying farms to convert to dairying and this project grew into the world’s largest pastoral dairy farm owning company, Tasman Agriculture, which listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange. At just 26 he was appointed CEO of Tasman and they went on to own 96 farms – 73 in the South Island and 23 in Tasmania.
Later when the farms were successfully sold down, Ray was employed by Fonterra as General Manager, Shareholder Services, later developing his own business interests in the Rural and Commercial sector. He has recently joined ASB as a Rural Corporate Manager, based in Dunedin.
Throughout his career he has worked with young people looking to progress and has found working with the Young Enterprise Schemes to be particularly satisfying. He would like to see a much broader understanding of career options offered in schools as well as an emphasis on teaching Mandarin and Spanish. These are the languages that business will need in the future, as New Zealand develops trade with the Chinese and South American markets.
Ray also sees a need for more agricultural teaching in NZ schools, with agricultural scholarships for boarders. He feels strongly that the education that he received at SPC fitted him for the role that he has today, both academically and socially and hostel life was a great preparation for life away from home at university.
In his spare time ray enjoys water skiing, boating, mountain biking and walking when he gets away to his holiday home in Twizel to relax with his family. Early musical participation in school Eisteddfods resulted from the competitive spirit amongst his peers and he has continued his interest in the guitar and banjo, but a part in his wider family’s band was short lived.
Ray has been able to maintain his connections with agriculture through its need for strong financial backing. Asked about future trends, he would like to see the country investing more in start-ups, cutting edge technology and home grown businesses, plus recognising Ag for the value it brings to the economy and local communities.
He speaks from experience.