Wellington property developer Mark Dunajtschik has been honoured by the property industry as this year’s Property Council New Zealand Members’ Laureate, a lifetime membership awarded once a year. Having devoted over 20 years of service to the property sector, Mr Dunajtschik was called “a shining example of ‘property for good’, consistently breaking the often-negative connotations that come with the role of property developer”.
Dunajtschik is a humble man who came to New Zealand as a toolmaker in 1958 to make a new life after an extraordinary plight that saw him imprisoned by Yugoslav forces in a concentration camp in Knicanin before eventually escaping with his mother to Germany. There he trained as a toolmaker, before spending five years travelling the world and deciding to make New Zealand his home.
After a few months on Kiwi soil, Mark established Precision Grinders, running the business successfully for 25 years. After retiring in 1987, he dabbled in property investment and development as a hobby, quicky accumulating and adding value to commercial and residential property around central Wellington, developing his unique, hands-on formula for success. As Sir Bob Jones once famously quipped, “all property developers go broke and the only exception he knows is that bugger Mark Dunajtschik, and the reason he doesn’t go broke is because he keeps his property.”
Not only does Mark have an exceptional story, he has also added extraordinary value to the Wellington cityscape and community. His legacy includes properties such as Environment House, the James Smith Building, the Harcourts Building, HSBC Tower, the Asteron Centre, and more recently the new $50 million-dollar Children’s Hospital for Capital and Coast District Health Board, which he has developed and gifted to the city. Mark has also been benefactor for many charitable organisations including a helicopter service which eventually morphed into the present Life Flight Trust, disability provider Hohepa, the Wellington Free Ambulance and as one of the first private donors to the Michael Fowler Centre.
Renowned to his hands-on approach to property development, Mark gets involved personally in everything from electrical, plumbing and carpentry work, to ensuring lifts and doors are working properly, and negotiating with potential tenants and agents. He is among New Zealand’s most successful property developers and investors, although he only started in the industry as a “hobby” at the age of 57.
Property Council chief executive Leonie Freeman says “it gives us great pleasure to present this year’s Member Laureate to this truly deserving property entrepreneur and philanthropist. I’d like to personally congratulate Mark for this well-earned award and thank him, and his partner Dorothy, for their enormous contribution to both the property industry and the wider community.”
For more information on the Property Council New Zealand’s Rider Levett Bucknall Property Industry Awards, and a full list of winners and nominees, visit the Awards website.