Millbrook, whose development started in the 1990s, transformed life in Arrowtown. It was a charming, but sleepy village with not much to offer its residents. Millbrook, developed with a real feeling for the area’s environment, was a tipping point that ended up bringing jobs, businesses, and big lifestyle improvements to Arrowtown’s people.
It was a challenging road for the Tokyo based Ishii family who – incredibly – were (and still are) in a business selling Japanese art supplies. They risked a huge amount on their vision, which was all about seeing the place and falling in love with it.
Sir Michael’s story is a little better known. Creating an exceptional course - The Hills - on his deer farm, added an extraordinary tourism facility to Arrowtown, and brought Arrowtown the NZ Open, which is huge for the village.
The keys attached to large greenstone citation tags were presented by the Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association (APBA), and the Arrowtown Village Association (AVA).
These two men are visionaries whose work has made a huge difference to Arrowtown.
Arrowtown’s constant challenge is preserving its historic village heritage, while still improving the lives of its residents, and the town’s economy. The achievements of Sir Michael and the Ishii family have helped us immensely. The quality and scale of their beneficial, and very individual accomplishments, is astonishing.
Mr Ishii and his family took full ownership of Millbrook in 1990. It was an enormous step for a family whose business was Japanese fine art supplies. His Millbrook mantra was always ‘a nice place for nice people,’ and its standards and sympathy with our environment have made it a golf resort benchmark.
Having Millbrook on our doorstep created new possibilities for life and business in Arrowtown – and we’ve seen its very beneficial results.
We all know Sir Michael as a generous community benefactor. His championship course at The Hills is a tribute to his talent and foresight. It shows off the beauty and spectacle of Arrowtown, and who else but Sir Michael would so memorably add a raft of standout sculptures to a golf course?
Sir Michael’s course is by some distance the most outstanding venue the New Zealand Open has had. And with the class of Millbrook by its side, it is the reason a small South Island town has become the host of our country’s premier golf event.
Scott Julian, Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association Chairman
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