Meat industry entrepreneur and philanthropist Graeme Lowe has died at the age of 77.
His family said in a statement that he passed away peacefully at his Hawke's Bay home today, after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.
Lowe began his career in the New Zealand meat industry with the purchase of Dawn Meat Ltd in Hastings in 1964.
During the late 1970s, he earned a reputation as the "godfather" of the meat industry for what many consider his most significant contribution to business when he successfully led a six-year deregulation battle.
At full-capacity Lowe Corporation provided jobs to over 1500 people across the country.
After selling his meat processing plants in 1998, Lowe continued to operate companies associated with the meat industry in tanning and rendering.
Two weeks ago, Lowe was inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame. He also is a recipient of the Queen's Service Medal for public service and the Companion of New Zealand Order of Merit.
Hawke's Bay business and community leader Kevin Atkinson said Lowe has been the region's greatest contributor.
"As an individual, Graeme has given more to Hawke's Bay than any other person in our community. Young and old, everyone across the region has benefited from his overwhelming generosity.
"I have known Graeme for many years and today we have lost one of the region's true legends," he said.
Graeme Lowe is survived by his wife Jenny, and their three children.