Stephen Collins


PHOTO: HARCOURTS/SUPPLIED Collins was chief executive of Harcourts from 1985 to 2000.

OBITUARY: From 14 real estate offices in New Zealand to more than 900 worldwide, Stephen Collins never lost sight of his dream.

The Christchurch property tycoon was the man behind the expansion of Harcourts​, one of New Zealand’s biggest real estate companies.

Collins was born in Christchurch on September 2, 1946, to parents Samuel and Bella. He had an older brother, Peter.

He died peacefully at home with his family by his side on June 27, aged 72.

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Collins left school at 15; the family story goes he walked out a week before he was legally allowed to, as he didn’t enjoy the rules.

He began a signwriting​ apprenticeship but soon took off to Australia to play the stockmarket.

Over the ditch, he made and lost a small fortune and never trusted the stockmarket again, moving his sights to property.

He returned to Christchurch and at age 26 opened Collins Real Estate.

Paul Wright, who worked for Collins in the early days and is now co-owner and director of Harcourts International, said Collins always had a “massive vision to grow our business”.

“He was a rock star by 30, shaking up the local real estate fraternity by introducing marketing, putting up the first ‘for sale’ signs – unheard of in the day when all property details were kept secret.”

Collins Real Estate merged with Wellington based Harcourts in 1985 and Collins became chief executive. The merged company had 14 offices and 140 staff.