CELEBRATING THE BIG 100 AND 16 YEARS AS SPONSOR OF THE MG MYSTICS – THE STORY OF BARFOOT & THOMPSON’S LOVE AFFAIR WITH NETBALL
On Tuesday nights at Epsom Girls Grammar, Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson is often found under the netball posts. Peter and a mixed team made up of staff and agents from the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland branches play in a corporate league and Peter’s preferred position – goal shoot.
Netball, and almost all other popular sports in New Zealand for that matter, has long since benefited from the generous support of Barfoot & Thompson – a founding sponsor of the MG Mystics.
This year Barfoot & Thompson is celebrating a remarkable milestone, 100 years in business. To mark the centenary and to celebrate our own 16-year partnership, the Mystics will be wearing a bespoke dress designed by Barfoot & Thompson during the match versus the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Central Pulse on Saturday 15 April.
Ahead of the big occasion we caught up with Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson.
Peter is the grandson of founding partner Maurice Thompson who in 1934 joined brothers Val and Kelland Barfoot to embark on a fortuitous career in real estate with what would later become Barfoot & Thompson – one of New Zealand’s longest standing and most successful real estate agencies.
As he was due to ship out for duty in World War Two, a young and ambitious Maurice was made a partner in the company, with Val and Kelland wanting him to find comfort in the knowledge that upon his return he would have a career and business to pick up and run with.
The agency has since stood the test of time, enduring through two world wars, the great depression, share market crashes and in more recent times – a global pandemic. Throughout it all, Barfoot & Thompson has remained a family-owned and operated business, with the agency now onto its fourth generation; Peter’s daughter Paula, 26, is a sales agent in the agency’s Grey Lynn office and his nephew Matt Thompson is a relieving manager. Other family members within the business include directors Kiri Barfoot and her cousin Stephen Barfoot, whilst Henry Barfoot (Kiri’s brother) is manager of the Milford branch
And family, at its heart, is the very reason for supporting sport, Peter says.
“What we look at is families and children. We’re a family business and our values are very family-based. Sport is central to family life in New Zealand. Getting kids into sport is really important for their longevity, not only for their physical health, but their mental health too. It gives them discipline and even if they don’t follow through and continue playing into adulthood, those skills, those relationships and that discipline carries through,” Peter says.
In addition to the Mystics, Barfoot & Thompson is also a sponsor of the Blues Super Rugby team, the Auckland, Counties, North Harbour and Northland NPC rugby sides, the Robinhood Stars, a seemingly never-ending list of kids’ sports and the Starship Children’s Hospital for which it has raised over $6.5 million.
But its support of netball extends well beyond the Mystics, back to the early National Bank Cup days of the Auckland Diamonds, before the launch of the ANZ Championship trans-tasman league.
MG Mystics CEO Phil Vyver says, “We are extremely grateful for the long-term support that Barfoot & Thompson has provided over the years. Peter in particular goes the extra mile and provides great support to the players and coaches. The relationship is much more than a traditional sponsorship, Barfoot & Thompson is a part of the Mystics whānau.”
For Peter, the most rewarding part of Barfoot & Thompson’s involvement with netball is the people.
“It’s the players and the management. People like Temepara ‘Bubs’ Bailey, Anna Harrison, Anna Stanley and Maria Folau in those early days. It’s the faces of the players, the fans and the interaction with the players and management.
“We want them to know we’re behind them all the way, through the wins and losses. They’ve given our people plenty to smile about and especially through those tough times during covid, the video clips thanking us really helped to keep our people motivated,” says Peter.
The perfect finish to the ANZ Premiership this season, Peter says, would be a Mystics versus Stars final.
“That would be the perfect result for us, seeing our two teams in the final.”