A man who in his twenties dared to take on the cosy club of import licence-holders who controlled the New Zealand car industry by building his own car for commercial production was always going to be someone to watch. Who could have picked, however, back in the early 1970s, that this young engineer would one day persuade Sir Richard Branson to zip across the English channel in his amphibious car, the Aquada? The life of businessman, inventor, merchant banker, philanthropist, art collector, adventurer and inveterate traveller Alan Gibbs has been far from ordinary. The onetime died-in-the-wool socialist became one of the free-market advocates who were never far from Roger Douglas's inner sanctum as he transformed the country's economy in the mid to late 1980s.His role earned him the eternal loathing of many on the left even while others in the arts community were grateful for his philanthropy as a major funder of the Auckland Art Gallery with his then wife, Jenny Gibbs. These days he is focussed on bringing the Aquada into commercial production and on acquiring new works for his remarkable sculpture collection on the Kaipara Harbour, The Farm, which has works by Richard Serra, Anish Kapoor and Andy Goldsworthy, among others, and is of international stature.
Paul Goldsmith is the author of several very successful and highly regarded biographies, among them those of John Banks and Douglas Myers. A onetime Auckland City councillor, he lives in Auckland and became a National List MP at the 2011 general election.
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