Michael Hill (entrepreneur)

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Sir Michael Hill

Michael Hill (cropped).jpg
Hill in 2011
Richard Michael Hill

(1938-12-23) 23 December 1938 (age 84)
Whangarei, New Zealand
Known forJewellery business
Ann Christine Roe
(m. 1965)
Parent"NBR Rich List - Wealth Order". Archived from the original on 21 May 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2017. </ref>
AwardsCNZM (2002)
New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year (2008)
KNZM (2011)

Sir Richard Michael Hill KNZM (born 23 December 1938) is a New Zealand jeweller, entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded global jewellery retailer Michael Hill Jeweller in 1979. He retired as the company's chairman in November 2015. He currently resides in Arrowtown and was Ernst & Young's 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year in New Zealand.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Whangarei on 23 December 1938, Hill was educated at Whangarei Boys' High School from 1949 to 1954.[1] Hill recalls being bullied, stating that he "hated" his time at school.[2] He left school at 16 to pursue a career as a concert violinist but a year later was told he would have had to start much younger in life to be a noteworthy musician.[3] Hill abandoned his hopes of a career in music and started working for his uncle, Arthur Fisher, at the family jewellery store. He performed well as a salesman and window dresser, winning international awards for his efforts in the latter.[4] He later took over the store's newspaper and radio advertising, drawing attention to the business with bizarre themes for the advertisements,[3] and was later promoted to manager.

In the spring of 1964, while working in the store, Hill met Christine Roe, an Englishwoman who taught art at a local high school. They married in March 1965 and had two children, Mark (born 1969) and Emma (born 1971).[1]

On 1 October 1977, the house that had taken them four years to build was destroyed in a fire.[citation needed]

Michael Hill Jeweller[edit]

Following this setback, Hill re-assessed his life. With the help of a friend, he tried to buy his uncle's business, but the uncle refused to sell. On 13 May 1979, Hill opened his own jewellery store nearby, calling it Michael Hill Jeweller.[3] One of his main points of difference was to limit his store's product range to jewellery items, dispensing with silverware, clocks, porcelain and glassware commonly found in other jewellery stores at the time.[3]

Hill had set himself a goal of "seven stores in seven years",[3] and in 1986 he exceeded that, opening his eighth store in Newmarket. On 9 June 1987, Hill floated Michael Hill Jeweller on the New Zealand Stock Exchange, raising enough capital to expand the business locally and into the Australian market, where the company opened four stores in Brisbane later that year. In 1988, Hill set himself and his company another goal: "70 shops in seven years". This goal was also achieved.[4] In 2002, the goal of opening 1000 stores by 2022 was established by Hill, with the further aim of taking the brand global.[4] During that same year, the company opened its first three stores in Canada,[4] and by the end of 2009 the company had 242 stores in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.[citation needed]

Hill's daughter, Emma Hill, succeeded him as chairman after the November 2015 annual general meeting.[5]


Although he didn't become a concert violinist, Hill has maintained a strong love for the violin his entire life and continues to play. In 2001 he founded the biennial Michael Hill International Violin Competition "for emerging young violinists".[6] The winner of the competition receives a substantial cash prize, a recording deal for international distribution and a "Winner's Tour" in which the competition winner performs in concert halls around New Zealand and Australia in the calendar year following the competition.[7]

The Hills golf course[edit]

The Wolves are Coming—when installed at 798 Art Zone

After buying a run-down farm in Arrowtown, Hill's interest in golf grew to the point where he built his own 18-hole golf course called "The Hills" on the property.[8] Built into the course is a unique two-thirds underground clubhouse designed by Auckland architect Andrew Patterson and his company, Patterson Associates. The clubhouse won the New Zealand Institute of Architects Supreme Architectural Award in 2008 and was a finalist in the World Architecture Festival in 2008 in Barcelona.[9][10]

The course is notable for the sculpture which makes much of the course into an open-air gallery. Giant sculptures dot the course, many of them the work of Hill's son, sculptor Mark Hill.[11] These works complement Michael Hill's own impressive collection of art.

Hill had The Wolves are Coming by Chinese sculptor Liu Ruowang installed. Originally on display at 798 Art Zone in Beijing, the 110 larger-than-life wolf figurines were placed at the golf course in October 2012 on a site chosen by the artist, and not at the site prepared by Hill's staff. At the centre of the installation is a sword-wielding warrior; this piece alone weighs 3 tonnes (3.3 tons).[12][13]

New Zealand Open[edit]

The 2007, 2009 and 2010 New Zealand Open golf tournaments were held at The Hills.[14]

VvS1 yacht[edit]

In April 2007, Hill launched the VvS1, a 112-foot super yacht built for luxury charters in the South Pacific. Designed by Hill and his wife, Christine, the vessel won three awards in the 2008 World Yacht Awards in Cannes: Best Motor Yacht, Best Interior and Best Functionality.[15]


Hill has had three books published about succeeding in business. The books use stories from his own life to illustrate his points about achieving success.

  • HELLO – Michael Hill Jeweller was published by Penguin Books in 1994.[3]
  • Toughen Up: What I've learned about surviving tough times was published by Random House in 2009.[4]
  • think BIGGER: How To Raise Your Expectations And Achieve Everything was published by Random House in 2010.[16]


Hill was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.[1] In the 2002 New Year Honours, Hill was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to business and the arts.[17] He was promoted to Knight Companion of the same order in the 2011 New Year Honours, also for services to business and the arts.[18]

Hill received Ernst & Young New Zealand's Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2008. The awards "acknowledge the accomplishments of entrepreneurs and celebrate the contribution they are making to New Zealand's economy and society".[19]


  1. ^ a b c Taylor, Alister, ed. (2001). "New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa 2001". New Zealand Who's Who, Aotearoa. Auckland: Alister Taylor Publishers. ISSN 1172-9813.
  2. ^ "Daisies from Michael Hill - romantic". Stuff. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Hill, Michael; Bryan Staff (1994). HELLO – Michael Hill Jeweller. New Zealand: Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd. ISBN 0-670-86033-6.
  4. ^ a b c d e Hill, Michael; Claire Harvey (2009). Toughen Up: What I've learned about surviving tough times. New Zealand: Random House New Zealand. ISBN 978-1-86979-046-2.
  5. ^ Harris, Catherine (15 August 2015). "Following in dad's footsteps". The Press. p. C15.
  6. ^ "Michael Hill International Violin Competition – The Michael Hill Story". Archived from the original on 27 April 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  7. ^ "Michael Hill International Violin Competition – 2011 Competition Prizes". Archived from the original on 11 April 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  8. ^ "The Hills Golf Course". Remarkable Golf Tours. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  9. ^ Turner, Greg (November 2007), "A world class golfing experience" (PDF), The Cut, New Zealand, pp. 24–26, archived from the original (PDF) on 24 May 2010, retrieved 10 May 2010
  10. ^ "A double honour for New Zealand architect". Retrieved 6 May 2010.[dead link]
  11. ^ "PGA provides chance to view sculpture on private course," J. Beech, Otago Daily Times, 28 March 2012.
  12. ^ Chandler, Philip (18 October 2012). "Sir Michael's stunning new sculptures". Mountain Scene. Archived from the original on 20 December 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  13. ^ Edens, John (18 October 2012). "These wolves are teed off". The Southland Times. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  14. ^ COWLISHAW, SHANE (1 February 2010). "Hills aims for a par 2011". The Southland Times. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  15. ^ "diamond" (PDF), M2 Magazine, New Zealand, 29 September 2008, archived from the original (PDF) on 18 July 2011
  16. ^ Hill, Michael. Think Bigger: How to Raise Your Expectations & Achieve Everything. Random House, 2010.
  17. ^ "New Year honours list 2002". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2001. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  18. ^ "New Year honours list 2011". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 Category Winners". Archived from the original on 26 April 2010. Retrieved 30 April 2006.

External links[edit]