Bob Owens (businessman)

  (Redirected from Robert Arthur Owens)

Sir Robert Arthur Owens KNZM CBE (26 August 1921 – 5 September 1999) was a Tauranga businessman and was Mayor of both Tauranga and the nearby Mount Maunganui in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. He later moved from Mount Maunganui (which has the Port of Tauranga) to Auckland.[1][2] He was knighted in 1997.


Owens was born in Manchester and educated at Manchester Grammar School and Liverpool Technical College. He was in the British merchant service from 1937 to 1946 when he arrived in New Zealand. He was Chief Officer holding a Master Mariner's Certificate and on Royal Navy transport tankers in the Mediterranean from 1942 to 1944.

He started his own shipping and stevedoring business in Tauranga in 1953. The Owens Group expanded into travel and insurance, covered 38 companies, and represented the Mitsui OSK Lines in New Zealand. The Owens Group was taken over by Mainfreight in 1993.

He was a Tauranga City Councillor from 1962 to 1968, Mayor of Tauranga from 1968 to 1977, and Mayor of Mount Maunganui Borough from 1971 to 1974 (when he was defeated on the issue of amalgamation with Tauranga, which he favoured). He was on the Bay of Plenty Harbour Board from 1962 to 1988, Director of the Port of Tauranga in 1988 and Chairman of Air New Zealand from 1981 to 1984.[3]


In the 1991 Queen's Birthday Honours, Owens was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for services to transport industry, local government and community.[4] In the 1997 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to business and the community.[5]


  1. ^ Lambert, Max (1991) [1908]. Who's Who in New Zealand (12 ed.). Wellington: Reed. p. 483. ISBN 0790001306.
  2. ^ Jackson, Desney (1979). Notable New Zealanders: the Pictorial Who's Who. Auckland: Paul Hamlyn. ISBN 0-86832-020-X.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  3. ^ Alister Taylor (2001). "New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa 2001 Edition". New Zealand Who's Who, Aotearoa. Alister Taylor Publishers: 1018. ISSN 1172-9813.
  4. ^ "No. 52564". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 15 June 1991. p. 30.
  5. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 1997". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
Political offices
Preceded by
David Sceptre Mitchell
Mayor of Tauranga
Succeeded by
Eric Faulkner