Elected Life Member in 2009
Passed Away 17 June 2009

In the following article prepared by Carolyn Howden, we profile Michael Dow and his involvement with Omaha.

Michael Dow – “Sold On Omaha”

Omaha Beach Club life member Michael Dow loves Omaha with a passion that has been his constant companion in all his life goals. His baseline is to succeed in whatever he undertakes and have a lot of fun along the way.

And succeed he has, in his battles to pioneer the concept of strategic planning in New Zealand, to help introduce Saturday trading, to become a joint founder of the first FM radio station in New Zealand, explore new ways of direct marketing in the late 1980s and to launch a product brand on 56 stores and hundreds of trucks throughout New Zealand.

For the past 10 years, Michael’s zest for a challenge has been focused on Omaha, selling real estate and fighting for the community and lifestyle he so passionately embraces. He has served on the Omaha Beach Ratepayers and Residents Association and the Omaha Beach Golf Club committees, provided more than $75,000 in golf club sponsorship, helped the Omaha Beach Surf Lifesaving Club and the local bowling club with fundraising, paid for half the cost of a security camera at the entrance to Omaha, and initiated the formation of the Omaha Beach Foreshore Protection Society.

It is with the same passion that he is now (2008)rallying residents to help fight the proposed Omaha Park development at the southern end of Omaha. He sees this as a serious threat to the quality of the existing Omaha Beach residential development. It is more than 50 per cent bigger than Omaha is now, all putting extra pressure on existing facilities including the roads into the beachside resort, the beach itself, its boat ramp, tennis courts, golf course and reserves, and offering very little in return, he says.

“I want to make every single person of Omaha, as a property owner, renters, and just plain lovers of Omaha, to be aware that they will be affected if this was to happen,” he says. “At this stage, it is a battle being carried by just a few, and that is not fair.”

Omaha was an uninhabited sandspit when Michael was born and raised in Auckland. The development was a sketch in the sand when he and his family moved to Timaru and the 16-year-old set his sights on becoming a New Zealand tennis champion. The contours were being carved out when he completed his degrees in accounting and economics and became a graduate trainee for BP Oil in 1969.

Sections were just being released on the market in 1972 when the world experienced its first oil crisis and Michael showed his entrepreneurial skills to lead the world’s first release of frozen funds back into his company’s coffers in New Zealand.

His role was that of a strategic planner, something so new to New Zealand that he left the international oil company to set up his own consultancy in New Zealand. That move resulted in him buying and developing an eight-chain store of Record Warehouse Ltd, and his successful battle with unions and the Government that led to the introduction of Saturday trading.

His venture into the music world also brought him into contact with world-renown musicians (ask him about Mick Jagger), and another exciting battle to create the country’s first licensed FM radio station.

The sharemarket crash of 1987 swept Michael’s business away within hours but the new innovation of direct marketing soon caught his creative imagination and led to a huge contract with the New Zealand Milk Corporation to launch Anchor Milk throughout New Zealand, following the deregulation of the milk industry in the early 1990s.

By 1993 Omaha was a popular beachside holiday spot, specially favoured by the Dow family for their summer holidays.

By the late 1990s, Michael and his wife Sheryl had had enough of Auckland and they wanted to settle in Omaha. After a walk along the beautiful four-kilometre beach, Michael would set off daily for his new challenge, working for a real estate company in Ponsonby, until a fellow Omaha resident and real estate agent suggested he join her local real estate company and specialise in Omaha.

Michael had found his niche and in those heady days of 1995 locals were ’wowed’ when a beachfront property sold at auction for $437,500. It took several more years before a property passed the million-dollar mark and Michael later sold a beachfront property for the highest yet (2008), at $2.8 million.

He rose to the challenge of a possible walkway along the foreshore that would threaten the privacy and value of every beachfront owner, he fights for the protection of the sand dunes as part of an undertaking by the Omaha Beach Foreshore Protection Society, and he took an active part in seeing Omaha become such a safe community, with its security camera and regular security patrols.

He was therefore shattered when he was stopped by a couple of local residents from opening a real estate office within Omaha, even though he had met all the legal council requirements. He knows of many other local residents who operate businesses from their homes but he impresses on all potential buyers the complexities and consequences of covenants that sit on Omaha Beach land titles.

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