Owens, Robert Arthur

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Sir Robert Arthur Owens - KNZM - CBE Order of Merit (Chile)

Manchester-born master mariner Bob Owens arrived in New Zealand in 1946 with £140.

He moved to Tauranga where he set up a shipping and stevedoring business (later the Owens Group) in 1953. He was a pioneer exporter of logs to Japan and in 1967 became representative for Mitsui OSK Lines.

Owens became a national figure in 1972, putting together the New Zealand half of the joint venture to acquire the Union Steam Ship Company from P&O.

Owens made his name in local body politics, serving after the 1971 election as mayor of both Tauranga and Mt Maunganui.

In 1982 he led a trade mission to South America and was instrumental in breaking the Australian-led trade ban against Chile.