P Style Banner Apr2024 Micheal Hill

Diamond Hearts

Sir Michael Hill's special legacy

  • Property Style
  • 21st Apr 2024

Diamond hearts

Whether it’s saving some of New Zealand’s native birdlife or introducing young Kiwis to a love of the arts, Sir Michael Hill is intent on making an impact. 

Sir Michael Hill is a man of many unexpected talents and curiosities. Most recognised as one of NZ’s most successful entrepreneurs, it’s his under-the-radar philanthropic work that’s making a true difference at both a national and grassroots level.

With interests in the arts, conservation, the environment and empowering women, Michael works with his family – wife Christine, daughter Emma and son Mark – on selected projects to create positive change.

“There are so many wonderful people working out there – some on a voluntary basis – to improve the world we live in, and we feel that it is incumbent on people who can assist to do so,” he explains. “We focus on a few causes and try to make a meaningful difference to them. As I have learned in life, you can’t be everything to everyone, so I generally pick a path and stick to it.”

Sir Michael Hill

One of the Hill family’s most recent projects is supporting predator control in the Southern Lakes, where Michael has lived since 1995. The family funded the installation of 60 predator-control traps, which are managed by the non-profit conservation organisation Southern Lakes Sanctuary.

“Predators such as possums, stoats and rats have flourished in our region at the expense of our natural fauna and flora. Their impact, specifically on our native birds, has been catastrophic,” he says. “I remember when I first took over the deer farm – which is now The Hills – almost 30 years ago, there was not a lot of native fauna. After developing the golf course and planting hundreds of trees and other natural habitats, we now enjoy an abundance of native birds.

“The new high-tech traps are a game changer, and we are excited by the results that are being achieved.”

The Hill family home in Arrowtown is nestled in one of NZ’s most beautiful regions, where views of the jagged Remarkables and rolling green pastures abound. Aptly named “The Hills” not only for its owners but for its landscape, the extraordinary property features an immaculately kept private golf course and a luxury six-suite lodge, the accommodation of choice for many well-heeled international visitors.

“As a family we are extremely lucky to be the custodians of the magnificent piece of land that is The Hills, and it is our intention to preserve it in the best-possible way for future generations,” says Michael.

Sir Michael Hill The Hills

Michael and Christine live a 10-minute walk away from their children’s homes and they often get together in the shared vegetable garden or meet up for family meals. Michael and Emma will talk business – both remain on the Michael Hill Jeweller board of directors – while the whole family enjoys a deep connection to nature and exploring the great outdoors.

“As a family we love being in nature,” says Emma. “We greatly appreciate and enjoy the backcountry, native bush and trails in the Wakatipu Basin, so our support of Southern Lakes Sanctuary comes naturally, as does our support of Live Ocean. Last year we raised money and directed funds through Live Ocean to help save the Antipodean albatross, which risks extinction due to long lines from fishing boats.

“Meanwhile, our two philanthropic focuses at the Michael Hill Foundation are empowering women and nature restoration,” adds Emma. “We partner with Women’s Refuge and One Tree Planted – it’s organisations like these that make the world a better place.”

P Style Blog Apr2024 Sir Mike01

The generosity of the Hill family also extends to the arts. A family of accomplished artists and musicians, they are the benefactors of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition, which attracts the best young talent from around the world to NZ every three years and provides an instrument bank to young Kiwis learning classical music.

“We hope to draw attention to classical music and inspire our young musicians. NZ is a very sport-focused nation and I believe it is important that we maintain a connection to the arts,” says Michael. “Contributing to these various causes gives us a sense of fulfilment and pride.”

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