Queen Honours Bruce Stewart

Posted 19 Sep 2017

Company Co-founder becomes Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit

The first time Calder Stewart co-founder Bruce Stewart had anything to do with Royalty was when a young Queen Elizabeth II visited New Zealand in 1954, one year after her ascension to the British Throne. She and her husband, Philip, were on their first New Zealand tour.

The Queen stopped briefly in his home town, Milton, but Bruce at the time was working in Gore. He was also undertaking his Compulsory Military Training (CMT) and thus found himself on guard at a road in Edendale, Southland, charged with ensuring the Royal entourage passed safely by as they travelled on to Invercargill.

The second time was in 1964 when the Royal couple visited again, and Bruce and his wife, Elsie, travelled to Oamaru. This time he found himself within about three metres of the Queen.

By that stage, Bruce Stewart was deeply involved with developing the highly successful company that bears his name and that of his co-founder, Lance Calder, a business they began in 1955.

A third occasion occurred on May 24 this year when Bruce found himself before the Queen’s Representative in New Zealand, the Governor-General, the Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, to become an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM).

He received the award in the New Year’s Honours List for his services to the community and the construction industry, most notably the company he built into the national concern it is today.

An official citation with the award acknowledged his work not just in jointly forming a business that went from just three staff in 1955, to a multi-million dollar company employing about 450 staff in 2017.

Sadly, Lance Calder died in 1974 but, despite that setback, Bruce continued to grow the business until his four sons – Peter, Alan, Andrew and Donald - joined Calder Stewart from the 1980s.

The citation also acknowledged his role in business organisations including the Otago Manufacturers’ Association, Otago Master Builders and New Zealand Metal Roofing Manufacturers. 

The company’s broader base was also acknowledged through the likes of Bruce’s membership of the South Otago Farm Forestry Association for 35 years.

In community roles, he also served as a councillor on the Milton Borough Council for six years and Bruce District Council for three years.

He has been a member of the Rotary Club of Milton for 50 years and served as an elder and deacon of Tokomairiro Presbyterian Church for a similar period.

Sons Alan and Donald and grandson David were with Bruce and Elsie in Wellington for a proud occasion in May, the official award ceremony which included reading the citation of Bruce’s achievements and the pinning of the medal on his chest by Dame Patsy, complete with official photograph.

Although he no longer has an official capacity within Calder Stewart, Bruce retains a keen interest in everything it does and is a regular visitor at the Milton office. Old habits die hard.