He derives great contentment from his philanthropy, particularly when he hears from people who’ve directly benefited. And he’s proud of the awards, though characteristically self-effacing when asked if there’s an accolade he hasn’t won.
“Well, I’ve collected a lot lately. On one hand I’m flattered, being a senior citizen, but on the other it indicates you’re going to fall off the perch soon!”
There seems little risk of that. Sir Mark works just as hard now as he always has, spending up to 45 hours a week in his office, plus additional time at home with Dorothy, who manages the finance and administrative side of the business.
He’s had to make some concessions, though
An inveterate mountain man, his eyes light up when he talks about the “wonderful terrain” of the Tararua Range and the Southern Alps. But he gave up his beloved skiing last year – at 86 – and while still a keen hunter, it’s on flat ground nowadays. He speaks of the comradery of the hunting and classic car clubs he belonged to with great affection.
Sir Mark is not one for waxing lyrical on the nature of happiness or success; he’s never given it much thought. He supposes success is achieving a good standard of living and being able to put something back into the community based on your achievements. Making an indelible mark on a cityscape doesn’t hurt, either.
“In my case, when I drive around town and know that I own this building and built that building it makes me feel content that I have achieved things.”
He credits hard work, “wise and risky investments”, and optimism for his own trajectory.
He’s still an optimist: “Very much so. Absolutely. No question about it.” But his message to younger generations is there are no short cuts.