2016 North Harbour Business Hall of Fame Laureates
Known predominantly as the media shy owners of both Pak n Save Albany, New Zealand’s largest and busiest supermarket and the SkyCity Breakers, and publishing company PQ Blackwell. Paul and Liz Blackwell are a truly incredible duo.
Paul Blackwell was raised in Auckland the eldest of 3 brothers. He is an Old Boy of St Peters College and upon leaving school joined the Farmers Trading Co, where he quickly rose to the position of Store Manager. He left in 1987 and purchased a bookshop in Matamata, followed by purchasing Matamata New World in 1993.
Liz on the other hand grew up in Matamata, and she attended Matamata College, before becoming a teacher at Waikato University. She went on to teach at Hinuera Primary for 8 years.
Paul and Liz first met in Matamata while working alongside each other at the bookshop (Liz in her Teachers College holidays) then marrying in 1991 and raising 4 children together in both Matamata and Takapuna– now aged between 21 and 10.
In 1998 they moved to Takapuna to open and operate Albany Pak n Save.
Pak n Save Albany rapidly became New Zealand’s largest and busiest supermarket. Paul became a Director of parent company Foodstuffs in 2010.
With busy lives raising 4 children and managing Pak n Save, the Blackwell’s were looking for something to do as a family unit, so in 2003 became season corporate seat holders of the Breakers. Then there was a move to support the team further with Pak n Save joining as sponsors. In 2005, Paul and Liz made the decision to purchase the Breakers, which was not just funds but their time, values and passion,
Paul and Liz have said that their main goal was to make a difference in the young players lives. They believe strongly that young people need positive role models and felt that basketball - something their own kids had started to develop a healthy fascination with - could provide that vehicle. And boy have they achieved that – Within the first season of joining, their presence was felt. Over the proceeding 11 years since first taking ownership, the team has won four Australian NBL Championships within five years, sadly missing out on their 5th this week, and have grown a reputation as New Zealand’s most successful sporting franchise both on and off the court.
Paul and Liz have a family approach to every member of their team – they greet each new player at the airport when arriving in New Zealand and are the first to help players when they need it, providing everything from stocked fridges when arriving to the country to lending an ear over coffee. They believe in creating an environment where other people can grow and do just that for every signed player, growing role models both on and off the court. A number of international players have signed here, leaving top franchises to play for the Breakers on the basis of the Club’s reputation of family values, success and professionalism.
They’ve carried the same values right across basketball in New Zealand reaching thousands of youngsters and inspiring communities through the basketball academies and camps that have been implemented to support youth.
Paul and Liz’s philanthropy is very private; they don’t ask for recognition for their donations and it doesn’t nearly stop with the Breakers. They were a founding sponsor behind the Force Netball team in 2000, providing donations to help ensure the North Shore based team could survive. Their giving knows virtually no bounds with support and donations given to, amongst others, the Well Foundation, the official fundraising body for the Waitemata DHB boosting health and wellbeing in Auckland’s North and West along with the YES Disability Centre, the Heart Kids of New Zealand and Starship Hospital. More to this, their considerable donations to all of these organisations cannot be quantified in dollars – whilst significant, it’s their ethics, family values and astute business minds provided to organisations that makes them so incredible.