In Memoriam – Neil Graham

Neil Graham, co-founder of Mainfreight and first patron of the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games, passed away last week aged 71 after a long battle with his health.

Neil Graham image

Neil Graham being invested as an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013 (credit – Fairfax Media)

Known fondly as ‘Grumpy’, Neil had been a personal friend of Games founders Steve and Karen Hollander for 30 years as Steve explained:

“Grumpy was a larger than life character whose sense of humour was always close to the surface. Whether in the boardroom or sharing a Dublin hotel in 1991 with the Aussie Rugby World Cup team who he playfully tormented, he was always having fun no matter where he was or who he was with.

“Neil was a fantastic mentor and an invaluable sounding board for us while we were developing the Games concept. He was a hugely generous man, supporting dozens of charities and individuals in need at home and abroad.

“On behalf of everyone at the Games, we pass on our sincere condolences to his family and friends. We’ll miss him.”

Neil Graham was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013. Just days before he died, Neil received a standing ovation at the unveiling of a new artwork that he had funded for Christchurch Art Gallery – British artist Martin Creed’s 46-metre long neon sign ‘Everything Is Going To Be Alright’.