David Ellis(Averill, 1967 -70) - OC of the Month January 2021
Monday, 11 January 2021

We are both delighted and honoured that David Ellis CNZM (Averill, 1967 - 70) has agreed to be our first interviewee for our new KCOCA Interview  feature 'OC of the Month'.

The 'OC of the Month' feature will celebrate a different King's College Old Collegian on our website and social media each month. We hope this will provide our KCOCA community an opportunity to know a little more about some of our accomplished and hardworking Old Collegians from a personal perspective. 

David is the Principal for the Te Akau Stud and Racing Stables, with stables based in Matamata, New Zealand and in Singapore.

Over the course of his life David has invested a huge amount of time and energy into Horse Racing in both New Zealand and Australia. In June earlier this year, David was recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours list having been appointed as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit(CNZM) for his services to Horse Racing New Zealand.

In the interview David tells us a little about what set him on this career path early in life and recalls some of his time at Kings College.

  • When you were at King’s College, what did you want to do for a career after you graduated?
I wanted to be the best sheep and cattle farmer in New Zealand. When I went out to Karaka to stay on a fellow student’s sheep and cattle farm, I thought, this is exactly what I want to do. I set my mind on qualifying for it. It was not easy as I did not come from a farming background and I’m the only farmer in my family. We started small but have finished up with a beautiful farm in Te Akau near Hamilton.
  • What is your best memory of your time at King’s College?  
The quality fellow students that I met. I was in Averill House, which was a full boarding house back then, and I made friends there that are still some of my closest friends today.
  • Which staff member do you remember most favourably from King's College and why?
Easily Ian McKinnon – he was a firm disciplinarian but a fantastic teacher, a great motivator, and a wonderful person. He went on to have a very distinguished career as a Deputy Headmaster at Eton College in Britain, and then Headmaster of both Wanganui Collegiate and Scots College. He is highly regarded by everybody that has met him. He and his wife Jenny are great friends of ours to this day.
  • What advice would you give to your school age self?
Work hard and you will find luck. 
  • Tell us about yourself now and what you do for a career?
Apart from owning Te Akau Stud, which is a 4000-acre sheep and cattle property in the Te Akau valley, we also own Te Akau Racing which is New Zealand’s leading racing stable – with stables in both Singapore and in New Zealand. I am very lucky that what I do for a living is my hobby and my passion.
I cannot describe how exciting it is and what a thrill my wife Karyn and I get out of seeing the ‘Tangerine Army’ winning races.
  • What does/did your job involve?    
My career involves buying and breeding racehorses with the goal of competing on the world stage. In the last couple of years, we have won major races in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Ireland, and England.
  • What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Our business operates seven days a week, 365 days a year. Horses must be fed and worked every day. So, there’s little time for relaxation! But we have a huge amount of satisfaction when we win a major race – which we are lucky to do frequently. It makes it all worth it.
  • What would you say is your biggest achievement to date?
Personally, being voted the Westpac Farmer of the Year. Professionally, winning racing premierships in two different countries in one season (New Zealand and Singapore).
  • What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
At present, it would be able to go for a holiday to Hawaii with my lovely children.
  • What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
A nice bottle of red, a cigar and my beautiful wife Karyn.
  • How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as a fair person and that my word is my bond. I would particularly like to be remembered by my staff as someone that would always support them.

If there is anyone you think would make a good OC of the Month, please get in touch with our KCOCA Executive Officer, Nicola Davies