A gentleman with a strong sense of fairness is how New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association President John Thompson described the late Chris Luoni.
“Chris was an active member of the Waikato Branch and served on the Council and it’s executive for many years,” Thompson said.
“He was very big on governance and ensuring that things were done correctly. With his knowledge of Bloodstock taxation and GST he was a great asset to the NZTBA and the wider industry framing many of the current rules.
“Another thing I admired about Chris was that he always liked to support people who were just starting out, and always encouraged young people to have a go.”
Luoni was a driving force behind the establishment of the New Zealand Hall of Fame and served as Chairman for a time. That was just one of the councils or boards that he served on according to his elder daughter Michelle Brock now the current Executive Officer of the Racing Hall of Fame.
“Dad served on many boards and councils, and like to be involved in the community,” she recalled.
“He was a great contributor to many organisations and his opinions were always very considered. He loved his sport especially rugby and was a big fan of Sky Sport watching racing and rugby.”
George Christopher Luoni (Chris) was born in Wanganui and spent his early years in Palmerston North before his family moved to their farm in Te Hoe in North Waikato.
He attended the local school before heading off to board at St Patrick’s College in Silverstream. On leaving school he worked in an accountant’s office and attended night classes at Wintec to study to become a Chartered accountant and graduated in 1975.
He held a practicing certificate from 1984 until 2009 and became a partner in the prestigious Price Waterhouse Coopers firm in their Hamilton branch.
Luoni’s strong belief in governance saw him become an Independent Councillor, past President and Board Chair of Governance New Zealand Inc, and he was also admitted as a Fellow of Governance New Zealand. A Fellow recognises outstanding professional service and achievement.
He was also Chairman of the Board and a National Trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award where he worked closely with former Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae.
It was during his teenage years that his love of thoroughbreds developed as his father George raced a few horses including the very good handicapper Happy Union, whose wins included two Avondale Cups.
About the same time as Happy Union was lighting up the racetracks Luoni decided to embark on his “OE” and being a keen skier who was proficient in French headed to Canada, to attend the 1976 Montreal Olympics. It was there he met his future wife Rosanna.
The pair returned to New Zealand in 1978 raised a family Michelle, Elizabeth and Richard and established Woodbine Farm near Hamilton where Chris indulged in his passion for breeding horses. Experiencing success as a breeder and owner with horses such as Listed stakes winners Ma Danseuse and Oliverdance, and he also raced the Group Two winner Balrani.
Besides Rosanna and his three children Luoni is survived by four much adored grandchildren Rory, Eva, Pippa and George Jonathan and his mother Jean an accomplished equine artist. -Michelle Saba, NZTBA