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Tait Communications Hi-Tech Hall of Fame - Flying Kiwi

Fisher & Paykel

Fisher & Paykel

Fisher & Paykel – Flying Kiwi 2005

Sir Woolf Fisher (1912-1975) and Maurice Paykel (1916 - 2002) established iconic New Zealand appliance manufacturers Fisher & Paykel in 1934.

One day in Auckland in the early 1930s Woolf Fisher had offered to sell a surplus of refrigerators that the parents of his close friend, Maurice Paykel, didn’t want. Fisher realised there was a future in refrigerators following the pair's first sale in Whangarei.

The company’s focus on research and development has seen it come up with a range of cutting-edge technology, including the Electronic Control System washing machine, Eco-smart washing machines and Active Smart fridges.

In the same tradition of innovation and excellence, it developed ground breaking healthcare equipment, eventually forming a separate company in 2001 - Fisher & Paykel Healthcare F&P exports to 80 countries worldwide and is one the few high-tech companies that are household names in New Zealand.

In 2005 Fisher & Paykel became the first billion dollar high-tech company in New Zealand

Woolf Fisher was knighted in January 1964 and, together with Maurice, led the company until his death in 1975. Sir Woolf Fisher admired integrity, kindness, generosity, leadership and boldness of vision along with exceptional zeal, keenness and capacity for work. An emphasis on staff welfare - employees were provided with excellent meals and conditions - and Fisher's easy personal relationship with his workers contributed to the company's enviable industrial relations record.

Maurice Paykel put his energies into the administrative side of the business, ensuring that whatever deals his partner did, the company delivered on. In 1975, after the death of Sir Woolf, Maurice assumed the leadership of the firm. He became chairman in 1979 and was consistently involved in the leadership and direction of the firm until his death in 2002. Fisher & Paykel continues to develop world-leading technologies under the chairmanship of Maurice's son, Gary Paykel.

Sir Woolf and Maurice both enjoyed extensive extracurricular activities. Sir Woolf led a New Zealand Trade Mission to Australia, established the Woolf Fisher Trust, was active in the Outward Bound Movement, served on the Trade Promotion Council and owned the Ra Ora Stud at East Tamaki. He was also a director for the NZ Insurance Co. Ltd; chairman of the New Zealand Steel Investigating Co. Ltd; a council member of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce; a committee member of the Auckland Racing Club; president of the Auckland Polo Club; trustee of the Institute of Economic Research; and a member of the Auckland Rotary Club.

Maurice was equally involved in the community. He established The Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust and donated significantly to the first Foundation Chair of Ophthalmology. He also had other directorships and was chairman of the Woolf Fisher Trust, member of the New Zealand Inventions Development Authority, member and chairman of the Medical Research Council and active in the Laura Fergusson Trust.

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