• There are only two billionaires living in New Zealand:  Soichiro Fukutake and Graeme Hart
  •  Fukutake is Benesse Holdings’ honorary advisor
  • Graeme Hart leads the company behind Reynolds Consumer Products

New Zealand only has two billionaires: Soichiro Fukutake and Graeme Hart. Here is how they built their fortunes.

New Zealand’s GDP in 2019 was $208.744 million. With less than five million population, the country is relatively smaller when it comes to its number of people and mass area of 268,021 km. It is not surprising that only two have eclipsed the billion dollar mark in terms of net worth in the country.

Fukutake has a net worth of $1.2 billion. According to Forbes, he is the heir of Benesse Holdings, a language school which focuses on senior care and other services. His son, Hideaki Fukutake, sits as a board member while Soichiro serves as an advisor.

The Japanese businessman is an art patron. He collaborated with architect Tadao Ando and transformed neglected areas into “paradise” that artists could enjoy. According to The Japan Times, the pair managed to build the Ando Museum and launch “The Setouchi Triennale” that features art pieces from various artists.

Per This is NZ Life, one of the projects was located at the islands found in Seto Inland Sea of Japan while the Chichu Art Museum houses works of Claude Monet and Walter de Maria, among others. The communities where the art projects are located have enjoyed a bit of the Renaissance.

The second billionaire based in New Zealand is Hart. His net worth is around $13 billion. Hart’s business focuses on the packaging of everyday essentials such as milk cartons, water bottles, paper and aluminum foils, per Forbes.

The self-made billionaire’s Rank Group has been offloading some of its assets to pay off some debts. In 2015, it sold its subsidiary SIG for $4.1 billion. SIG is responsible for making cartons of V8, Ocean Spray, and Dole.

The 64-year-old is elusive to the public and rarely makes public appearances. His rags to riches story gives hopes to people in his country. South China Morning Post claims Hart used to work as a mechanic and truck driver. Now that he has massive wealth, he now spoils himself with his money.

With the debut of Reynolds Consumer Products in February 2020, he scored another financial gain. He rewarded his hard work with a superyacht named Ulysses, which carried a price tag of around $200 million. Ulysses can accommodate another small yacht on its vessel and a helipad.

Both Fukutake and Hart have businesses that can be considered essential during the coronavirus lockdown. This is why they gained a lot amid the health crisis. New Zealand is one of the nations that’s leading the fight against COVID-19 using government transparency, mass testing and contact tracing.