My father always resisted getting life insurance despite mum’s occasional urging, and when he suddenly died the lack of a ‘safety net’ brought terrible stress to my family. I was only six at the time but I vividly remember mum having to work tirelessly to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. This experience led me to take out my own life insurance policy at 20, and ultimately into a career helping people ensure the continuing welfare of their family should the unforeseen happen to them.
After years of being frustrated by the confines of the corporate world and then unable to find the right business to buy, I eventually discovered during my time as GM of AA Life an industry which was picture perfect for me
It was a double blow for my family when my uncle was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident while we were returning my grandfather’s remains to his ancestral land. The family was devastated by his death, especially as it was already an emotional time for us all. My uncle could always be relied upon to lend a helping hand when needed and it came as no surprise to us that this commitment to whanau continued even after his death. He had taken out life insurance, and although he couldn’t physically be there for his family, his good sense and foresight was.
After nearly 15 years of corporate life including five years in Sydney as part of a Carter Holt Harvey and Saatchi & Saatchi joint venture start-up company, and two-and-a-half years with AA Life, I realised the insurance industry was where I wanted to carve out my place in the business world. I now get the opportunity to mix with people from all walks of life, hear their fascinating stories and play my small part in helping secure their futures.
David started work in his father and uncle's paint and wallpaper shop in 1947. By 1951, he had taken over its management and started developing Levenes. When David sold Levene & Co. in 1994 it had 52 retail stores along with large paint and wallpaper manufacturing plants.
David's interests today include property, horticulture, a television production company and private investments – such as Legacy Life, of which he is a 45% shareholder.
David has been inducted into the North Shore, Manukau and New Zealand Business Halls of Fame. He has a charitable foundation that supports many other charities and he is patron of the Outward Bound Trust of New Zealand and Parkinson's New Zealand. He is also a director of many private companies.
David has a background in manufacturing and, for the past 32 years, has been joint managing director of Textile Bonding Limited – a company that exports 70 per cent of its production to all parts of the world. Over the past three years, David has taken a consultants role with Legacy Life and moved to manage the Levene Group of Companies, working closely with Sir David on maintaining existing companies while strategising on new investments.
David is a minority shareholder in Legacy Life and believes that future planning through insurance should be a very important part of every New Zealander’s life. David is also a past chairman of the Outward Bound Trust of New Zealand and the Ellerslie Flower Show. He is also a director of a number of private companies.