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IT pioneer lived life with passion

Friday 15th December 2000

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INNOVATIVE: Trevor Eagle
  • Trevor John Eagle

1932-2000

When Trevor Eagle stormed out as manager of IBM's Auckland branch in 1969, there was no turning back.

He has just had a row with a colleague but didn't let the upset hold him back. He almost immediately founded a company, International Data, sold it two years later, and bought it back in 1974.

This signalled a new phase in Mr Eagle's flamboyant business career - a career that came to a sudden end on Saturday when he died after swimming off his launch in the Hauraki Gulf.

Mr Eagle (68) and his wife of 44 years, Coralie (nee McGuire), had been entertaining members of the Unitec Centre for Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship honour board of which he was patron. He collapsed as he climbed aboard Virtual Reality after swimming off Motuihe Island. Two of his sons were on the launch at the time.

A masters swimmer, Mr Eagle represented New Zealand at backstroke at the 1950 Empire Games in Auckland. It was part of a busy life that included schoolteaching, horseracing and breeding.

But Mr Eagle is best remembered as founder and managing director of the highly successful computer company Eagle Technology, which grew out of International Data.

It was not all plain sailing but with the support of Coralie, his business partner, Mr Eagle prospered. His personal wealth in this year's National Business Review Rich List was listed at a minimum of $26 million, most of it generated from privately held Eagle Technology and related companies.

Auckland-born Mr Eagle had a vision for the IT industry and innovation generally, holding various industry posts in addition to his company directorships.

These included being a founding member of the New Zealand Council for Business Development, a committee member of Technology New Zealand's advisory board, a fellow (and former trustee) of the World Wide Fund for Nature and Auckland area chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme.

Mr Eagle was also president of the Computers and Office Products Industry Federation in 1987 and the Information Technology Association (1988/89) and chairman of the Computer Industry Joint Action Group (1990/91).

Mr Eagle is survived by Coralie, whom he married in 1956, three daughters and three sons, including Craig Eagle who is Eagle's general manager and his heir-apparent. A fourth son, Heath, died aged 20 in a car accident in 1991.

- Graeme Hunt

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