Provider of leadership and sponsorship recognised with MNZM

Electrinet founder Barry Atkinson is handing the reins over to regional manager Stu Blair. Mr Atkinson is pictured with his 11-year old Australian Terrier Shady. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

BARRY Atkinson was brought up to think about other people and help out where help was needed.

His exceptional nature to give — in time, money and employment — was recognised in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to philanthropy and the community.

The 64-year-old said it came as a bit of a shock.

“It’s a great honour though,” he said.

“I’ve always been grateful for everything I’ve been taught and learnt and was brought up to think about other people and always helped out where I can.

“One of my problems in life is I’m so busy I never have time for myself. But busy people achieve things.”

Mr Atkinson knows how hard it is to get people on boards and committees, which is part of the reason why he does it.

“My wife Sue and I also help the community financially. I suppose I learnt from her. She’s always giving away money,” he said.

Retirement is not a word in his vocabulary.

“I’ve no intention to retire, I haven’t got time to, there’s plenty to do.”

An active relaxer, he walks their dog Shady about six kilometres a day.

He enjoys cooking, so cooks many of the meals, including for the family on Sunday nights.

He also has a comprehensive workshop at home where he enjoys his hobby of engineering and woodwork.

Mr Atkinson also loves to travel, a couple of months each year, which includes recent trips to Russia, England and Ireland. Next on the list are Iceland, Greece, Turkey and the Balkans.

He joins travel groups or goes alone as wife Sue often prefers to stay at home to look after the animals on their lifestyle block.

Anonymous fund

The couple set up a fund that provides grants and donations to the community and national organisations, but they do not accept applications. Instead they choose who to help, with the main stipulation being they are not named as the donors.

“We don’t do it for thanks, we do it because there is a need for the community and national organisations.”

Over the years thousands of dollars have been given without fuss.

Together the couple have three daughters and six grandchildren. There were 21 family members around the Christmas dinner table this year, including wider family.

Mr Atkinson was born in Gisborne and went to Kaiti School, Ilminster Intermediate and Gisborne Boys’ High. He left halfway through sixth form to work at the courthouse. From there he worked at BNZ, the Kawerau mill, as a house painter, the post office and Telecom before he was made redundant.

He established Electrinet in 2001, which he built into a substantial company of 50 staff. Electrinet was bought by Horizon Energy Group in 2016 and Mr Atkinson is the regional manager.

He has three life memberships and was chairman of the Gisborne Riding for Disabled (RDA) for 15 years, leading the organisation through a major location change to establish an indoor arena at Showgrounds Park.

As chairman of Gisborne SPCA, he led that organisation to become locally governed and financially stable, and helped initiate a project to plan a new animal centre for Gisborne.

He also provided leadership and sponsorship to the upgrade of the Electrinet Sports Centre and sponsored local Relay for Life events, and motorsport and golf venues.

Mr Atkinson was one of several business donors who, in partnership with the Hauora Tairawhiti district health board, built a diabetes unit at Gisborne Hospital.

He was also vice-chairman of the Cosmopolitan Club for several years, a sponsor of Hospice Tairawhiti, of which he is still a trustee, a life member, past president and chairman of the Poverty Bay Hockey Association, and life member of RDA.

He is a Justice of the Peace and the local court panel manager. He and his wife will attend an investiture ceremony this year for the formal presentation of his MNZM.

  • Nuhaka School principal Nick Chapman was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education and conservation; Wairoa’s Hinekakaho Averill Manuel-Kohn received a Queen’s Service Medal for services to community and Maori; and Dr David Tipene-Leach got an MNZM for his work in promoting Maori health on the East Coast and in the Bay of Plenty. More on these in tomorrow’s Herald.

BARRY Atkinson was brought up to think about other people and help out where help was needed.

His exceptional nature to give — in time, money and employment — was recognised in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to philanthropy and the community.

The 64-year-old said it came as a bit of a shock.

“It’s a great honour though,” he said.

“I’ve always been grateful for everything I’ve been taught and learnt and was brought up to think about other people and always helped out where I can.

“One of my problems in life is I’m so busy I never have time for myself. But busy people achieve things.”

Mr Atkinson knows how hard it is to get people on boards and committees, which is part of the reason why he does it.

“My wife Sue and I also help the community financially. I suppose I learnt from her. She’s always giving away money,” he said.

Retirement is not a word in his vocabulary.

“I’ve no intention to retire, I haven’t got time to, there’s plenty to do.”

An active relaxer, he walks their dog Shady about six kilometres a day.

He enjoys cooking, so cooks many of the meals, including for the family on Sunday nights.

He also has a comprehensive workshop at home where he enjoys his hobby of engineering and woodwork.

Mr Atkinson also loves to travel, a couple of months each year, which includes recent trips to Russia, England and Ireland. Next on the list are Iceland, Greece, Turkey and the Balkans.

He joins travel groups or goes alone as wife Sue often prefers to stay at home to look after the animals on their lifestyle block.

Anonymous fund

The couple set up a fund that provides grants and donations to the community and national organisations, but they do not accept applications. Instead they choose who to help, with the main stipulation being they are not named as the donors.

“We don’t do it for thanks, we do it because there is a need for the community and national organisations.”

Over the years thousands of dollars have been given without fuss.

Together the couple have three daughters and six grandchildren. There were 21 family members around the Christmas dinner table this year, including wider family.

Mr Atkinson was born in Gisborne and went to Kaiti School, Ilminster Intermediate and Gisborne Boys’ High. He left halfway through sixth form to work at the courthouse. From there he worked at BNZ, the Kawerau mill, as a house painter, the post office and Telecom before he was made redundant.

He established Electrinet in 2001, which he built into a substantial company of 50 staff. Electrinet was bought by Horizon Energy Group in 2016 and Mr Atkinson is the regional manager.

He has three life memberships and was chairman of the Gisborne Riding for Disabled (RDA) for 15 years, leading the organisation through a major location change to establish an indoor arena at Showgrounds Park.

As chairman of Gisborne SPCA, he led that organisation to become locally governed and financially stable, and helped initiate a project to plan a new animal centre for Gisborne.

He also provided leadership and sponsorship to the upgrade of the Electrinet Sports Centre and sponsored local Relay for Life events, and motorsport and golf venues.

Mr Atkinson was one of several business donors who, in partnership with the Hauora Tairawhiti district health board, built a diabetes unit at Gisborne Hospital.

He was also vice-chairman of the Cosmopolitan Club for several years, a sponsor of Hospice Tairawhiti, of which he is still a trustee, a life member, past president and chairman of the Poverty Bay Hockey Association, and life member of RDA.

He is a Justice of the Peace and the local court panel manager. He and his wife will attend an investiture ceremony this year for the formal presentation of his MNZM.

  • Nuhaka School principal Nick Chapman was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education and conservation; Wairoa’s Hinekakaho Averill Manuel-Kohn received a Queen’s Service Medal for services to community and Maori; and Dr David Tipene-Leach got an MNZM for his work in promoting Maori health on the East Coast and in the Bay of Plenty. More on these in tomorrow’s Herald.

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