Sir Bob Jones

PHOTO: Sir Bob Jones. RNZ

Sir Robert Edward Jones is a property investor, author and former politician in New Zealand. During the course of various political campaigns, he has developed a reputation for making highly controversial off-the cuff remarks. Wikipedia

Ashley Church | COMMENT: As a kid growing up in a poor family in Hawke’s Bay in the 1970s my aspiration certainly wasn’t to be a property investor. It was to be a journalist…. or maybe a lawyer. The former will bring a smirk to the face of those who endure my grammatically challenged weekly rantings, and the latter probably won’t surprise many. But I ended up becoming neither.

Instead, as a 14 or 15-year-old kid, I read Jones on Property in the late 1970s and I was hooked. This book, which is now a classic, was written by the great Sir Robert (Bob) Jones and it introduced me to terms such as “positive gearing” and “capital growth” – ideas which seemed like magic at the time because they showed how owning several homes wasn’t actually much more difficult than owning just one, and how, by applying a bit of simple math, anyone could dramatically improve their own position.

By the mid-1980s, and still in my early 20s, I was living evidence of Jones’s words, having built up a portfolio of eight rental units, which I then sold a couple of years later for no other reason than that I was young and stupid and not nearly as savvy as I thought I was at the time.

I didn’t get back into property investment until the early the 2000s but, in the almost 20 years since, property has been very good to me and my family. It has given me choices and opportunities that my 1970s state house self couldn’t have dreamed of, provided my wife and I with a level of comfort and, inexplicably, given me a platform through which to talk about property and other social, philosophical and political issues which matter to me.