Local Gisborne business man John Larsen is well known for his sense of humour and generous nature, but what may not be so well known is that the much-loved local identity was born in Dannevirke, only coming to Gisborne as a young man in 1972.

In his early years in Gisborne John worked all around the district with his mobile sawmilling business. He used to set up in front of the old butter factory at Makaraka. Just over the rail tracks sat an empty yard and he dreamed about one day owning the site. Hard work and determination saw him realise that dream when in 1989 he bought the property.

It wasn’t easy in those early days. He had to mortgage the place “lock, stock and barrel”, borrowing 100 percent of the purchase price with interest rates at 24 percent. He remembers naysayers predicting he wouldn’t last six months, and even though the years have told a different story with his successful business standing the test of time, those words still ring in his head.

John’s generous commitment to the community has seen him support a wide variety of local causes. He has sponsored, among other things, show jumping and the Gisborne races, The A&P Show, Waipaoa Farm Cadet Training and Gisborne Chamber of Commerce.

When John helps a cause he believes in he invests both his time and money. He is a committee member and gold sponsor of Ngatapa Rugby and Associated Sports Club, and more recently a strong advocate for the endowment fund the club has established at The Sunrise Foundation (Sunrise).

Johns says he “picked up on the value of it immediately”. The endowment model appeals to him as he knows that “donations to Sunrise are a way to give now, that will give forever”.

“I know the value of money, you can’t just give, give and give into a black hole. That will fritter your money away and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Giving to Sunrise is all about sustainability, it will return to the community forever.”

Glenda Stokes, Sunrise Executive Officer, says John’s ongoing support for Sunrise is greatly appreciated.

“John has not only donated to Sunrise, he also supports our organisation out in the community by helping others to understand how the endowment model works. He really gets it and his endorsement lends weight to what we are trying to achieve.”