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Our thoughts are with our members and their organisations impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle. Boards have a key role to play in the wake of any crisis. See guidance for chairs and directors

Cantabrians Humphry Rolleston and Rex Williams awarded Distinguished Fellowships

Media release
By Institute of Directors
13 Apr 2021
read time
2 min to read
Rex Williams and Humphrey Rolleston

From left: Geordie Hooft MInstD (Canterbury Branch Chair), Humphry Rolleston DFInstD, Rex Williams DFInstD, Kirsten Patterson MInstD (IoD CE). Photo credit: Sandy Brinsdon, TheAfterWorkPhotographer

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has presented its highest accolade of Distinguished Fellow awards to Humphry Rolleston and Rex Williams, in recognition of their decades of exceptional service and outstanding contribution to business, governance - including the IoD itself – and the wider community.

Chair of the IoD’s Canterbury Branch Committee, Geordie Hooft said: “We are extremely grateful to them for generously giving their time to support development of others in the governance community, which they continue to do today.

“For instance, Humphry recently contributed to a session for IoD members about boards ‘Making the tough choices,’ while Rex led a discussion on ‘Do communities get the best value from the current board appointment system?’”

Humphrey Rolleston profile

Mr Rolleston started his first business, in New Guinea, in 1970 before returning to Christchurch to set up a property development and management company with friends, which sold its property interests in 1987. He then established Canterbury Finance, which he sold to the Southbury Group, although he retained a significant minority shareholding in the larger entity. He sold out of Southbury Group in 2004 and went on to invest in a range of businesses in New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, South East Asia and the UK.

His governance career has spanned 35 years, including as a director and chair on a number of leading Government, private and public companies. He joined the IoD in 1993. While now retired from all public companies, he continues to chair two charitable trusts: The 180 Degrees Trust, which runs outdoor education programmes for teenagers at risk in Christchurch, and The Christchurch Foundation – the city’s charitable trust.

Mr Rolleston said: “It is an honour to receive this award from the Institute of Directors. They are an organisation set up to assist people wishing to take on the responsibilities that go with being a director of any company regardless of its size. They are doing constructive work in this space.

“Successful companies build better communities. They stimulate change and they help raise standards of living for all stakeholders. An enlightened and flexible governance approach is a critical skill set needed by directors if they want their companies to be successful organisations.

“Capable CEOs perform well if they are reporting to broad-minded directors. All CEOs need room to breathe and directors need the wisdom to know how much room is appropriate for their CEO.”

Rex Williams

Mr Williams spent 30 years in the cement, quarrying and concrete industries. Following his retirement in 2007 he focused on governance in a range of sectors, including tertiary education, health and local government. He is Chair of Styx Living Laboratory Trust and former Chair of HW Richardson Group.

He said he was humbled to have been made a Distinguished Fellow. “My experience has been across a range of governance. I have enjoyed all the activities and have always been happy to take on something new, to learn something and see what I can contribute.”

Mr Williams said a key attribute for directors was to “count to five before responding on matters of governance”. 

“As a manager, you are always being asked to make quick decisions, but governance is more about being thoughtful about matters before making a decision.

“I think governance is about values. I have had the good fortune to work with brilliant chairs who have set those values. It is not easy, but you agree the values around the table and then you cast the die.”

The longstanding IoD members were made Distinguished Fellows in a presentation at the organisation’s Canterbury branch in Christchurch on 13 April.

Media contact

Vanessa Glennie
IoD Corporate Communications Manager
027 957 0315