The evolution of manuka honey to becoming a global success is something Ray Lewis looks back on with pride. Mary Anne Gill discovers why and a little about his footballing pedigree.
One of Waikato’s oldest legal firms has hired a familiar face as its new chief executive.
English-born Liverpool Football Club supporter Ray Lewis, 59, has joined Harkness Henry having first come in contact 20 years ago when he was divisional manager at Comvita and then in 2006 when he took over as Waikato Chamber of Commerce chief executive.
That relationship with the firm’s commercial team made it easy for him to get his feet under the desk at its central Hamilton offices in the KPMG Centre.
“It’s an absolute pleasure to join an organisation in such robust health and with an already-established reputation of service excellence,” he said.
And if the firm is looking for someone to play a part in any social football games, Lewis has the pedigree. His grandfather Harry Lewis scored 57 goals in 101 wartime matches for Liverpool from 1916-1919 before joining the first team and going on to play 70 games and scoring 12 goals before he transferred to Hull City.
See: Harry Lewis profile
His grandson Ray Lewis was born on the Wirral Peninsular between Liverpool and North Wales. He emigrated to New Zealand in 2002.
A physicist originally, Lewis’ first job was as a consultant at AgResearch before joining Cambridge-based Comvita in 2004.
He worked closely with Waikato University professor Peter Molan around his work researching the medicinal benefits of manuka honey.
The technologies were at early patent, pre-commercialisation phase but the potential was clear. Lewis’ task was to take the technology beyond New Zealand.
“To do this well we needed the very highest levels of legal counsel and support because of the complex deal negotiations across the globe.”
Enter Harkness Henry. Two years later Comvita signed a global manufacturing and licensing deal.
“It is now a personal delight for me to know that manuka honey for wound care is now a mainstream offering in hospitals and wound care centres around the world, and all that was in no small part due to the excellent legal advice I was acquiring from Harkness Henry.”
When he joined the chamber, Lewis proactively developed strong relationships with a broad range of legal firms on behalf of members.
“I quickly came to realise how fortunate we are here in the Waikato with the high number of truly excellent legal companies available, and I firmly believe it is one of the drivers behind this region’s high performing economic growth across recent decades.”
Lewis started with Harkness Henry last month.
The firm, under other names, has been in the Waikato since 1875 and in 1945, when the practices of Phillip Harkness and Clive Henry merged, became Harkness Henry.
The firm has offices in Paeroa and from April 1, 2022, in Cambridge when it merged with Cambridge Law Centre.