Garth Barfoot has been described as a remarkable New Zealander. Looking at the lifetime achievements across business, sport and the community of the long-time Beach Haven resident, that description is pretty accurate.
Garth was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to business, sport and the community in 2014. He is also the Patron of Triathlon New Zealand, a Life Member of the NZ Real Estate Institute and Life Member of the North Harbour Triathlon Club.
He published an autobiography, titled ‘On the Move’ in 2014.
From a business perspective Garth admits that his biggest achievement is what the two family real estate agency – Barfoot & Thompson – achieved during his 60 years of working for it.
His father, Val Barfoot, started the firm as a 25 year old in 1923. He was joined by his brother a year later and in 1934 by Maurice Thompson.
Garth Barfoot joined as an accountancy cadet in 1957, he became a director of the business at age 30, and after a 40 year stint as a director retired from the business in 2017 at the age of 81.
When he joined the company there were 88 staff and 15 offices. When he left it had 2380 staff and 73 offices.
In the wider real estate community Garth is proud that Barfoot & Thompson have been seen as a leader. He says an example was the company being at the forefront of the voluntary change to pricing in dollars and not pounds – something that those in charge of weighing babies have yet to completely achieve.
Garth was on the joint Law Society and Real Estate committee which was successful in introducing the now standard real estate agreement for the whole of New Zealand, saving buyers and sellers in this country hours of time and zillions in legal fees as their lawyers no longer had to read the fine print. It was the same in every agreement
Another change that Garth is proud of is Barfoot & Thompson’s support to the community. When he started in 1957 there were no donations or sponsorships at all. Today examples that stand out for him are their 16 year support of the Starship Hospital, the sponsorship of the World Masters Games in Auckland in 2017 and their 90th birthday gift to the City which resulted in the Lighthouse, a sculpture at the end of Princes Wharf – an eye catching sight for all to think about! Barfoot & Thompson are known of champions for the community.
Garth Barfoot is greatly respected within the business and sports sectors, and community, for his strong moral compass and honesty, and that he regularly donates his time, as well as funds, to charities and sporting events.
He is also admired for his commitment to his chosen sport of Triathlon. When he was 56, Garth competed in his first triathlon – he doggie-paddled during the swim and borrowed a bike, but has gone on to compete in more Iron distance triathlons all over the world, including the iconic Kona World Championship Ironman, and at 77 he was the ITU Long Distance World Champion for his age group. He was competing in world multisport events right up until 2019.
Interestingly – for someone so embedded in the real estate industry – Garth Barfoot has only ever owned one house. The one he and his wife, Judy, built for $30,000 and paid $12,000 for the land. Their house is in Beach Haven, which was Birkdale when they bought the land. Judy and Garth Barfoot have three grown up children – names here Kiri, Henry, Cushla – and a very proud Grandparents to Tane, Tacinda, James and Annelise.