‘A gift to NZ’: Tributes for businessman and philanthropist Sir Eion Edgar, who has died aged 76

Sir Eion Edgar, a Queenstown-based investor, businessman, philanthropist, husband and father, has died aged 76.

He had been fighting pancreatic cancer since late last year.

Sir Eion made a big difference in New Zealand as a philanthropist in sport, education, youth, arts, sports and health.

He was the chairman of numerous charitable trusts and organisations, including the Edgar Olympic Foundation, New Zealand Dementia Prevention Trust, and Winter Games NZ Charitable Trust.

He was also an official patron of Diabetes New Zealand, the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and the New Zealand Football Foundation.

Sir Eion was a dearly loved husband, father, father in law, grandfather and friend to many, his family said in a statement.

“Eion had a positive impact on the lives of many New Zealanders across the vastly diverse causes, projects and businesses he supported so passionately. He was a leader in philanthropy in New Zealand and brought others along with him to amplify his impact and help make New Zealand a better place. He leaves behind an enormous legacy.

“Eion will be greatly missed by all and we ask for privacy and respect for his family and friends at this very sad time.”

Sir Eion helped in the creation of the University of Otago’s Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Centre, and in the creation of the southern hemisphere’s largest single-building indoor sports arena, Dunedin’s Edgar Centre.

He was the chancellor of the University of Otago between 1999 and 2003, and was awarded Honorary Doctorate of Laws for outstanding service.

Sir Eion spent 20 years as the chairman of Forsyth Barr Group in Dunedin, until his retirement in 2018.

His friend of 36 years, Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult, confirmed that Sir Eion had died about noon today.

In an emotional tribute, he called Sir Eion “a good Kiwi man”.

“He’s been an absolute gift to our district, and the whole of New Zealand,” he said.

“I’m devastated.

“He’s just been one of those people, whenever there’s a been a cause Eion’s been there to support it.”

He was generous not only with his own money, but also in convincing others to support causes, Boult said.

“He will be enormously missed.”

Forsyth Barr issued a statement saying it was “deeply saddened” at the death of a former chairman, colleague, mentor and friend.

“Eion always wanted the best for the firm and encouraged everyone to take the opportunities and enjoy what we do.He loved Forsyth Barr and seeing the firm develop.”

“New Zealand has lost a truly iconic and visionary leader.”

The company expressed its condolences and best wishes to Sir Eion’s wife of 50 years Lady Jan Edgar, to his sons Jonty, Hamish and Adam and to the whole Edgar family.

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