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Jim and Susan Wakefield 1500

Susan and Jim Wakefield

Susan and Jim Wakefield first met in 1971 while working at Christchurch accountancy firm Gilfillan Gentles Pickles Perkins & Co (later KPMG)

The couple worked together for more than a decade before romance bloomed between them. They were married in May 1992.

Both enjoyed considerable success in their careers. Susan juggled directorships at Ernest Adams, the Bank of New Zealand and Landcorp with a partnership at a tax consultancy firm, and was named chair of the Commerce Commission in 1989.

Jim bought the car leasing part of Avis Rental and took it from a struggling minnow to a trans-Tasman titan with 25,000 vehicles on New Zealand and Australian roads. He made significant contributions to New Zealand’s harness racing industry as both a horse owner and breeder and chair of Harness Racing New Zealand.

In 1994, with retirement on the horizon, the couple purchased Amersham, a house on a large section on Whitewash Head, Scarborough, and set about designing and building their own Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired residence on the site.

The couple moved into their new home in 1997, naming it Ravenscar House after a village near Susan’s birthplace, and lived there alongside their growing art collection until the house was damaged beyond repair in the February 2011 earthquake.

Jim Wakefield died in 2020.