Obituary: Ken­neth Le­ung

The Orchardist - - Contents - By Rose Man­ner­ing

Well re­spected Asian im­port agent for the New Zealand pipfruit ex­port in­dus­try, Ken­neth Le­ung passed away re­cently in Hong Kong. Ken­neth was the prin­ci­pal of the com­pany Buah Bua­han, and his fam­ily busi­ness had a long re­la­tion­ship with the New Zealand ap­ple in­dus­try which first be­gan in the 1970s and con­cluded more than 35 years later. For­mer New Zealand Ap­ple and Pear Mar­ket­ing Board (NZAPMB) ex­port mar­ket­ing man­ager Pat Turner says the strong in­tegrity of the Le­ung fam­ily in look­ing af­ter the Asian in­ter­ests of the board led to a long and fruit­ful re­la­tion­ship.

The board was first in­tro­duced to Buah Bua­han af­ter it switched to char­tered ves­sels with Reefer Line ship­ping in the 1970s, and one of the Reefer Line part­ners, Vin­cent Le­ung, in­tro­duced the board to his brother Ken­neth and his Hong Kong based fruit busi­ness. Pat re­calls the board used to sell fruit to Buah Bua­han on a con­sign­ment ba­sis, and from there gain ac­cess to the Chi­nese mar­ket. When trade be­gan it was a mat­ter of un­load­ing car­tons from the char­ter ves­sel onto barges to get fruit ashore, then boxes would be loaded onto the shoul­ders of wait­ing coolies to be trans­ferred to cool­stor­age.

“We had a long-stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with Ken­neth Le­ung; he had ab­so­lute in­tegrity,” Pat re­calls. Fruit would be sold on a con­sign­ment ba­sis and re­li­giously on a Fri­day pay­ments would be made to the board’s ac­count. The en­vi­ron­ment was one of ab­so­lute in­tegrity and trust, trad­ing al­ways ran smoothly.

“Ken­neth was held in high re­gard within the hong Kong fresh pro­duce in­dus­try and he rep­re­sented the New Zealand in­dus­try with skill, ab­so­lute in­tegrity, and com­mit­ment.”

For­mer NZAPMB prod­uct de­vel­op­ment man­ager David Cran­well says the New Zealand in­dus­try owes Ken­neth a great deal, as he gave the board much help in un­der­stand­ing the Chi­nese mar­ket. “He was an ab­so­lute gen­tle­man and his loy­alty to New Zealand and the board was sec­ond to none; he was the long­est serv­ing board agent in the world.” David re­calls the many times he passed through Hong Kong he was al­ways treated roy­ally by Ken­neth. His sen­ti­ments are backed by NZAPMB man­ager Clive Du­rand.

“As a long-stand­ing agent for the in­dus­try in Hong Kong and in later years China, Ken­neth and Buah Bua­han took their role very se­ri­ously and with pride. Ken­neth was held in high re­gard within the Hong Kong fresh pro­duce in­dus­try and he rep­re­sented the New Zealand in­dus­try with skill, ab­so­lute in­tegrity, and com­mit­ment. “He and his late brother, Vin­cent, who also had a long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with the in­dus­try as a reefer ves­sel op­er­a­tor, made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to achiev­ing ac­cess to the China mar­ket for New Zealand pipfruit. Their ef­forts through­out this process were in­valu­able and on­go­ing once ac­cess was granted.

“In my opin­ion the in­dus­try was very for­tu­nate to have Ken­neth and Buah Bua­han as busi­ness part­ners and the in­dus­try has lost a true friend in his pass­ing.” For­mer board chair­man John McCliskie says it is clear to see to­day how far ahead they were in trade in that part of the world, and en­abled the board to avoid the many pit­falls that other in­dus­tries have en­coun­tered. Ken­neth pi­o­neered the first sales into main­land China through the spe­cial eco­nomic zone, which gave the board a good pres­ence in that re­gion.

“But most of all, Ken­neth was very loyal to New Zealand and was very proud to rep­re­sent us in Hong Kong. He had a very soft spot for this coun­try, so much so that some of his fam­ily moved to New Zealand and he vis­ited many times in his later life.” “Ken­neth was one of the last agents of the old NZAPMB and he was a very good part­ner and be­came a friend of all of us over time. When­ever we were in Hong Kong, he looked af­ter us roy­ally and treated us with re­spect. He will be missed.”

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