What my NBR Rich List experience says about New Zealand

Years ago I worked for the National Business Review and contributed towards the annual Rich List special edition.

It was difficult to get New Zealanders to acknowledge they were wealthy.

This revealed two interesting lessons.

First, there was the Rich Lister who repeatedly tried to talk down his net worth each time I interviewed him. After three or four conversations I asked him why he was so keen for us to lower our estimate of his wealth. He told me he had a call from Inland Revenue Department after the previous year’s Rich List. The tax collectors wanted another look at his accounts after reading his list entry.

Second, I mentioned the New Zealanders’ reticence to a friend. He said that in Australia and America, people hire public relations agents to make sure they get put on similar lists. This speaks volumes about the cultural differences between New Zealand and these countries.