Sir John Graham (1935 – 2017)

BLAKE Medallist 2012

Leader in sports, education and governance.

Sir John Graham has demonstrated transformational change and inspirational leadership on the sporting field, in the classroom and at the board table. An outstanding exponent of New Zealand’s national game, he played 22 Tests for the All Blacks between 1958 and 1964, including three as captain. He is widely regarded as one of the most exceptional All Blacks of all time.

His mana within sport led to his appointment as Manager of the New Zealand cricket team from 1997 to 1999, and President of the New Zealand Rugby Union from 2005 to 2006. In 2007, he received the Westpac Halberg Leadership Award.

An absolute belief in the power of education saw Sir John commit decades of his life in posts across the education sector. As Headmaster of Auckland Grammar School from 1973 to 1993, he drove ‘Grammar’ to push the boundaries of excellence.

Sir John’s co-founded the Academic Colleges Group, which works to encourage its network of schools across three countries to take a student-focused approach to education.

Sir John was a member of the University of Auckland Council from 1994, and was the Chancellor from 1999 to 2004. Sir John also held a number of directorships, including IT distributor Renaissance Corporation, The University Bookshop Ltd, transportation company Owens Group Ltd, and was Chairman of the NZ Education Scholarship Trust and numerous charitable trusts.

In 1999 Sir John was named ‘New Zealander of the Year’ by North & South magazine. In 2009, he was awarded the Distinguished Citizen of Auckland Award for his contributions, leadership and service to sport, education and charity.

In the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Sir John was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education and sports.