'ODT' chief knighted

Sir Julian Smith and Beverley, Lady Smith, walk on Warrington Beach this week. Sir Julian is one...
Sir Julian Smith and Beverley, Lady Smith, walk on Warrington Beach this week. Sir Julian is one of seven men and two women who have topped the New Year honours list. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.

Otago's Julian Smith, OBE, is one of seven men and two women who have topped the New Year 2013 New Zealand Royal Honours list.

Julian Stanley Smith, OBE
For services to business

The Dunedin businessman - the chairman and managing director of Allied Press, publisher of the Otago Daily Times - has been made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to business. Also knighted are Owen Glenn, Bob Harvey, Paul Holmes, Justice Mark O'Regan, Mark Solomon and Mark Todd. Justice Judith Potter and Wendy Pye have been made Dame Companions of the Order.

They are among 191 New Zealanders to be recognised in the 2013 New Year honours.

Dunedin's Julian Smith, OBE, says his knighthood is recognition not only of his own endeavours but also those of his forebears.

Sir Julian, the chairman and managing director of Allied Press, publisher of the Otago Daily Times, and his brother Nick, an Allied Press director, are the fifth generation of their family to serve in the newspaper industry in Dunedin.

They are descendants of George Bell, who founded The Evening Independent in the city on January 22, 1869. Later that same year Mr Bell incorporated The Evening Independent in The Evening Star after purchasing the latter title.

''I'm very pleased from the family point of view,'' Sir Julian (69) said after deciding to accept his knighthood.

''We have been involved in newspapers and Dunedin for a long period of time and I am mindful that I would probably not have been in the position to do the things I have done if it wasn't for those who went before.''

He is also grateful to his wife Beverley and his children, sons James and Richard - who have joined him in the family business at Allied Press - and daughter Joanna for their support during his career.

Sir Julian was born in Dunedin in 1943 and educated at John McGlashan College and the University of Otago.

He joined the board of the Evening Star Company Limited in 1974.

When the Evening Star and the Otago Daily Times merged in 1975 under the holding company Allied Press, Sir Julian became deputy chairman of the holding company, a director of the ODT, and chairman of the Evening Star Company Limited.

With the merging in 1979 of Allied Press and Otago Press and Produce Limited - of which he was general manager and a director - he became deputy chairman and group managing director.

In 1986, Sir Julian initiated a management buyout, thus privatising the company into local hands.

He continues to lead the company, and his controlling interest has ensured the Otago Daily Times and the company's other media investments (which include nine community newspapers from Canterbury to Southland, two regional television stations and a majority interest in the Greymouth Evening Star and associated titles) remain New Zealand-owned.

The ODT is the last independently owned metropolitan newspaper in New Zealand or Australia and Sir Julian is proud it continues to play a significant role in the region.

This includes not just its daily coverage of the South. Through his proprietorship, the company has had a policy of supporting the Otago province through business ties and in charitable ways. The company, and Sir Julian and the family, have been willing supporters of Dunedin and regional projects for which the community at large have been beneficiaries.

He is proud, too, to continue to live and work in Dunedin.

''I am humbled by the acknowledgement, but I do think it is good for the city and for the region for people from Dunedin to be recognised in such a way,'' he said.

''I'm also pleased a representative of the newspaper industry has been recognised, as they have in the past.''

Sir Julian is the fourth ODT executive to be knighted. The newspaper's first editor, Sir Julius Vogel; former managing director and editor Sir George Fenwick; and former editor Sir James Hutchison were all similarly honoured.

Sir Julian is the longest continually serving member of the governing body of the New Zealand Newspaper Publishers' Association, being appointed to the organisation in 1978 and continuing in the role for the past 33 years.

A former president of the NPA, he also represents the association as a member of the nomination committee for trustees of the news agency Thomson Reuters Ltd.

He was chairman of the New Zealand Press Association from 1983 to 1989 and from 2002 to 2006.

''On a personal note, the recognition is very meaningful given that the ODT completed its 150th year in November and the Evening Star, through its successor The Star, is 150 in the coming year,'' Sir Julian said.

Sir Julian has been a president of the Otago Chamber of Commerce and the Otago Commerce Club, is a past chairman of the John McGlashan College Board and is currently Patron of the Otago Aero Club.

He was from 1999 until 2009 the Honorary Colonel of the 4th Otago-Southland Battalion Group, a volunteer Army Reserve Unit, and since 2005 has been chairman of the Otago Southland Territorial Forces Employer Support Council.

He was awarded a New Zealand 1990 Commemorative Medal, received an OBE for services to business management and the community in 1994 and made a fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Directors in 2009.

Sir Julian is known to many as ''JCS'' Smith. He is in fact JS Smith - a fact unknown even to him until his early 20s when he first needed a passport. By then, though, the moniker ''JCS'' had stuck.

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