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Mr Thomas, a chartered accountant, was appointed to the Skyline Enterprises board in 1975. At the age of 32 he became chairman, a position he held for 33 years.
Under his leadership Skyline grew to a market capitalisation of $780million, employing more than 1000 full-time staff.
He also established the Mountain Scene, now owned by Allied Press, in 1972 - initially as a fortnightly tourist publication.
It is now one of New Zealand's most award-winning independent newspapers.
When he was named in the Queen's Birthday Honours list he said he was "a bit flattered".
He is pictured with Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.