Tall Poppy Syndrome is alive and well In New Zealand where a hard working and entrepreneurial 14 year old who runs his own business has been given a serious kick in the guts by some busybody wanker who has done his best to cost the boy his business.

Fourteen-year-old entrepreneur Johnny O’Neill is frustrated he can no longer ride his mower to jobs after a member of the public complained.

A young Cromwell entrepreneur who runs a garden maintenance company has been banned from riding his lawnmower to jobs.

Johnny O’Neill, 14, set up his successful business J.C. O’Neill Contracting in 2017 and until recently had been driving to jobs around the small Central Otago township on his ride-on 780cc lawnmower.

However, he has been forced to employ a driver to take him to jobs or tow the mower behind his bike after he received a written warning not to drive the mower.

“Police called and said I needed to come in and have a chat about the ride-on mower because someone had complained … It’s too big and apparently has too much power.”

The mower, powered by hydrostatic transmission, travelled up to 5kmh towing a trailer with equipment, and would be lucky to get downhill at 10kmh, he said.

“It’s not exactly going fast … I would class it safer than a push bike. What’s the difference with me going down the footpath with a weed eater on the side and someone mowing their lawn next to the footpath … or a Lime scooter or e-bike that are a lot more dangerous than what a ride on lawn mower would be?” 

He was disappointed a member of the public would try and “put their foot in the way”. The setback was going to cost $25,000 in wages employing someone else, as well as costs running another vehicle.

“It’s taken a lot of long hours and long days to get where we are at. We now service 293 clients a week so it is a bit of a logistical exercise. I do 40 of those myself and the staff do the other 250 … I reckon it is a lot better thing to be doing than sitting at home on your Xbox.”

His company had a turnover of more than $100,000 last year with only himself and a part-time worker, he said.

What an impressive young man. Sadly he has learned at the tender age of 14 that when you are successful there are sadly people in the world who take pleasure in trying to cut you down. Enforcement in this case was at the discretion of the police so it is very disappointing that they decided to kick this hard working young man in the guts rather than make a sensible decision to allow him to continue.

The ban was a blow for Johnny, who now has to be driven to jobs, walk a push mower to jobs 10 blocks away, or tow it behind his bike.

“It’s really, really hard for Johnny. He’s such a driven and determined kid – there is no stopping him.

“He’s learned about marketing, tax, mechanics – he built his first trailer himself.”

He had developed a comprehensive health and safety plan, and was taking automotive classes at the Otago Polytechnic’s Cromwell campus twice a week on top of high school and the 40-odd hours he worked in his business.


Kia Kaha Johnny don’t let the bastards get you down. Your work ethic and determination is an inspiration to us all. You rock!