A kiwi Treasure – The Mad Butcher

When Sir Peter Leitch left school, no one, including himself would have believed what would have transpired in his life.

He was just 15 when he left school in Wellington, was dyslexic and recalled, “I was in the dumb class. It was a toss up between me and another boy who was the dumbest in the school.”

Well academically he may have struggled back then, but geez he’s made every post a winner since with a combination of street smarts, passion, work ethic and a genuine love of community and in particular those less fortunate.

He progressed from a newspaper boy to butchers boy in Seatoun, Wellington before leaving to live in Auckland. In 1971 he opened a butchery in Rosella, Mangere East and from an incident in a pub where someone called him ‘That fu….g mad butcher’, the name stuck and became famous.

In 2004 he was voted the 41st most influential New Zealander by Listener magazine, his distinctive gravel voice, enthusiasm and humour promoting his shops and rugby league became part of the Kiwi advertising landscape.

By 2012 he had 36 Mad Butcher stores around New Zealand from Whangarei to Dunedin, but not only was he a very successful businessman, his charity work and enthusiastic support for New Zealand Rugby League has made him a much loved and admired household name in New Zealand.

His club the Mangere East Hawks, the New Zealand Warriors NRL side and the Kiwis have all benefitted from his enthusiastic support and he’s so revered at Warriors headquarters that the club retired the #19 jersey in his honour and presented him with a ring which is usually presented to players who play 100 games for the club.

He managed the Tri-Nations-winning Kiwis in 2005 and is loved and respected by the rugby league fraternity World wide.

In 2004 he was voted the 41st most influential New Zealander by Listener magazine, his distinctive gravel voice, enthusiasm and humour promoting his shops and rugby league became part of the Kiwi advertising landscape.

A Kiwi Treasure

Sir Peter was awarded the Queen Service Medal in the 1991 Queens Birthday honours list, then in 2010 in the Queens Birthday honours list he was knighted, receiving the Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and philanthropy, just recognition of the great work he does in the community helping the less fortunate in many areas.

In 2011 he replaced former Prime Minister Helen Clark as patron of the New Zealand Rugby League and he is a Life member of New Zealand Rugby League.

Sir Peter remains just as enthusiastic about rugby league and the Warriors and now enjoys a life which is still busy but more relaxed in the tranquil serenity of his home on Waiheke Island.

He and a fellow Knight on the Island, Sir Graham Henry are great mates and enjoy kayaking together on occasions.

From Butcher Boy to Knight - The Mad Butcher plying his trade

Sir Peter married his wife Janice in 1968 and even at the age of 77 when most people are slowing down, he still leads a full and active life promoting rugby league wherever he goes and helping out and donating to various charities.

A quote by the man himself sums up what he’s about. “Everyone thinks my passion in life is the Vodafone Warriors but my real passion is people. The greatest gift you can give someone is your time”

Sir Peter Leitch (The Mad Butcher) very kindly made himself available for an interview with me on AbsolutelyFamous and he was in vintage form, even throwing in a couple of his trademark Mad Butcher advertisements which he was famous for. 

Please lookout for the video upload coming soon. 

Interview & Words by John Alexander | Header Image: Three legends of New Zealand League - Sir Peter Lietch, Benji Marshall and Shaun Johnson. Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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