While waiting to get my fish and chips order today for lunch, while out planting some trees for a client I started reading an article by Deborah Hill Cone in the Friday September 3rd edition of the Business Herald lift-out (5 year old "Womans Days" with Rach & Rod on the cover don't do it for me anymore) and what was she writing about?
Yep the man without a plan, the man everyone loves to hate, formally the richest man in Timaru (where is that again?) Allan Hubbard.
I wasn't going to go back there but after my order of 1 chips and a scoop arrived (that is what they call it in the Hawkesbay where I lived my formative years) I just had to keep reading.
Debs made some really good points.
We already know the financial shenanigans and shell games Mr Hubbard and his good mates were up to with other peoples moola but Debs, (I can call her that because I live in Auckland and we are a close knit family up here too) as she does, came at things with quite a unique angle.
She was looking at the intensely close, almost incestuous nature of the order of things in the part of the country that Hubbard and his mates come from.
This she contends, dates back from early settlers who arrived in boats from old mother England and continued their class distinctions in their new land that shows today in the back slapping, secret handshaking, old schoolboy network that supported Mr Hubbard and that supports him to this day. This New Zealand breed of wannabe aristocrats didn't like to flaunt their wealth Though.
She described them well as the airtex wearing, holey jumpered men who looked like paupers but were actually well to do and their lady companions who "wore their collars upturned".
It was kinda like an awe shucks look at me mentality I'm so down to earth, I must be I'm dressed like a bum.
Witness the epitome of this in Mr Hubbard. New Zealands answer to Warren Buffett, who is well known for his frugality and homespun hokiness - he would call it old fashioned. Mr Hubbard is top to toe well-worn Hallensteins circa 1950 and even drives a beat up VW which doesn't look like it has seen much back seat action (if at all) since it was bought by him in the 1960s.
Of course at at one stage though the NBR valued this man a half a billion.
That is of course when this whole charade unravels into reality.
These strange people in this clique of people down there in the Canterbury area (If you are reading this and actually flaunt your wealth like most Aucklanders then I am probably not talking about you) stick together like a Parnell Girl to her Takapuna Grammar old boy 10 years her senior and the motivation for support of Allan Hubbard seems connected to the tribe mentality of looking after the individuals in the pack, should the whole tribes reputation suffer a mortal moral, legal or in this case financial gaping wound.
If I maybe serious for one moment, this appears to be the reason why the main pack behind support for Allan Hubbard, the old boys network of Canterbury ( I am a bit jealous because Onehunga High School where I hail from doesn't have this sort of network) is rallying the ignorant, angry, lonely hoi poloi around them in the hope that the herd will stop the all important old boys network from a fatal blow.
This sort of protection of the big fish is great if you can get it and the network in and around Christchurch and Timaru are doing a sterling job of circling the wagons in the face of the reality of even bigger fish from the Serious Fraud Office and forensic auditors crawling so far up Mr Hubbard's backside not even a Christchurch Boys High School old boy could get a finger up there let alone anything else.
I had a different opinion of the support for Mr Hubbard, I thought it was sheer ignorance and stupidity (well?) but my good mate Debs up here in Auckland has convinced me it is mostly about protectionism; of a group that has always seen itself as the ones who make the decisions and wield the power over ordinary folk like you and me.
Amazing what you can find in yesterdays fish and chip paper huh?
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The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition) by Benjamin Graham
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c Share Investor 2010
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