Obituary: Kenneth Leung
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.”