Honour a `humbling’ experience

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By DAVID HILL

Murray Sutherland says he is “humbled” to receive a Queen’s Birthday honour.

The Kaiapoi timber company owner was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list earlier this month for services to the timber industry and the community.

“It has been a humbling experience – something that comes out of the blue.”

Mr Sutherland says he is the fourth generation owner of Sutherland Timber, which was founded at Tuatapere in Southland 100 years ago. The family business moved to Cheviot 75 years ago, before establishing a sawmill at Kaiapoi in the 1950s.

He says the family started out harvesting rimu, before crossing over to plantation crops and in recent years had expanded into the ITM franchise. Sutherland Timber now employs 110 staff and supplies to Asia, Australia and the United States.

“I am trying to write a book, but it’s a bit challenging when you’re writing about your own family.”

Mr Sutherland has lived all his life in Kaiapoi and over the years he has lent his support to the local community through financial sponsorships and practical assistance.

“We were fortunate to have grown up in this town. There’s good people in this area and there’s good governance from the (Waimakariri) council – the whole thing works really well.

“We’ve tried to keep a pretty low profile, but if we can help out a kid or help by making some timber available to a club or a local school we just try and support them. Someone listed it all, but I’ve never really thought about it, we just like to help people and back them for good reasons, as work has allowed.”

Following the Canterbury earthquakes Sutherland Timber even provided local residents with materials to weatherproof their homes while they awaited repair work.

Mr Sutherland says over the years he has had the support of his wife Annie and “good staff around me”.

His own children have taken over the day to day running of the business, with oldest son Johnny now the managing director, son Davie running the Kaiapoi ITM timber yard and daughter Amy Sherwin running the Ashburton ITM timber yard.