When long time Tamahere man Dallas Fisher received an “official-looking” letter in the post, his wife thought it was a parking fine he hadn’t paid.
It was important – but it wasn’t a parking fine.
Fisher, who chairs the Tamahere Community Committee, has been recognised in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
He’s been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business, philanthropy and sport.
“I’m chuffed, but it’s not just me that makes things happen. You’ve seen it – all the staff that work here,” he told the Waikato Times.
Fisher is the man who brought the Sevens to Hamilton and is a founder of NDA Group, a leading Waikato engineering firm. He runs one of the biggest catering companies in the country – Montana Catering – and he was chair of Chiefs Rugby, during which time he helped the flailing franchise find success.
He has been chair of business development entity Waikato Means Business since 2016 and also chairs Go Bus Group, New Zealand’s largest passenger transport operator, which is a joint venture between the commercial arms of Ngāi Tahu and Waikato Tainui.
But it’s also his involvement with organisations such as Hospice Waikato, Mesh Sculpture Hamilton Trust, Waikato Breast Cancer Research and Perago Sporting Trust that saw him receive a Queen’s honour.
Montana Catering caters for Hospice Waikato’s biggest fundraiser – the Bucket List Banquet – a contribution of around $1 million over the past five years.
Fisher is very much the storyteller and a simple question about how he got into catering turned into a whimsical tale of his beginnings in Gisborne.
“Dad would leave early for work, so I would get up and cook him bacon and eggs.
“Oh, I remember one time Mum made a Peking duck. You’re supposed to dry the skin and I came home and she had a broom between two chairs with the duck hanging, with a vacuum cleaner on blow.
“Can you imagine the germs that were coming out of that?
“I’ve always been interested in food. At university, I used to work in a burger place to make ends meet, at a burger bar called Captain Delicious, and they made the best burgers in Palmy.”
Fisher said he understood the systems and how to work with people and what it’s like to be on a fryer for eight hours.
At university, he started a rock festival and then started learning about large rugby events in Hamilton. That led to his involvement with the Chiefs and helping to develop the stadium.
“I started out as an accountant,” Fisher said.
“I’m a numbers man, but it’s people who spin my wheels.”