June 2024


By Hemant Patel


Don Ha has stepped aside from his CEO position at RE/MAX New Zealand to make way for his greatest supporter and RE/MAX New Zealand COO, Mala Maharaj.

On 15th April 2024, Ms Maharaj became the CEO of RE/MAX New Zealand and RE/MAX Fiji, four years to the day after joining Mr Ha on the leadership team in a corporate role, upon his purchase of the master franchise for the region. Early last year, he was also granted master franchise rights to Fiji.

Ms Maharaj joined Mr Ha in business in 2004. In the 16 years until she was invited to take up the COO role, she was general manager at Don Ha Real Estate then, subsequently, general manager at RE/MAX Revolution before being invited to the COO role in 2020.

Her management roles through more than three decades have consistently been with ‘big name’ companies including Coca-Cola Amatil and KPMG in Fiji.

Very heavily vested in RE/MAX New Zealand from the outset, she stepped up to a higher level of commitment as co-owner in the New Zealand master franchise in April last year.

Ms Maharaj now looks after massive day-to-day operations of a major franchise business, the systems and processes, and the network of broker owner clients and their businesses.

Garry Malcolm, who this month celebrates 20 years of continuous service with RE/MAX in New Zealand, says the new CEO is very capable of stepping up to the role.

“Mala has big shoes to fill but in the decade I’ve known her, she has always demonstrated the qualities of a fine leader for this network, and I’m very excited she has the opportunity to excel in the CEO position,” the RE/MAX Team Realty broker owner said.

Cheryl Luster, Director of Global Development, RE/MAX, LLC congratulated Ms Maharaj and Mr Ha on the leadership changes.

“I am very excited for Mala and for RE/MAX growth in the region because she is a true business professional, and a wonderful leader and ambassador for RE/MAX worldwide,” Ms Luster said.

"Mr. Ha is clearly at the forefront of real estate leadership in New Zealand. What sets him apart from other leaders is the experience and streetwise sense gained through 30 continuous years in the industry."

He now takes the esteemed role of Chairperson of the Board for RE/MAX New Zealand and RE/MAX Fiji.

This allows him to also sink his teeth into his great love, Don Ha Project Marketing, where since the start of April this year, he’s brought in $200million worth of new listings and has had vendors invest more than $150k in marketing dollars, and sees the sales figures on a fast upward trajectory. Web site traffic has also risen dramatically – around 30 per cent since April.

Winner of global RE/MAX awards, the Don Ha Projects Team has successfully been involved in billions of projects nationally and internationally. This has created employment for hundreds of contractors and suppliers. Client reach is global, through the Asia-Pacific and through Europe, locations in Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Japan, Australia, New Caledonia, France, UK, Mongolia and more.

Mr Ha says, as CEO, he’s spent many hundreds of hours over the past four years in leading RE/MAX through growth and profitability in New Zealand.

“Mala has been right there beside me and she knows the business inside out.

"She is fully experienced and possesses the optimal qualities to lead RE/MAX New Zealand and RE/MAX Fiji into the next phase of growth. Therefore, I decided it was time to focus on my other talents and passions such as coaching, teaching, mentoring, marketing, brand awareness, and sponsorships."

He began this year celebrating one lifetime dream, becoming principal real estate sponsor of the Hurricanes Super Rugby team.

“It’s a dream come true to become a sponsor of a Super Rugby team. I’ve wanted to be associated with a rugby team since I was a teenager. Now I plan to help families on their journey of real estate ownership as well as also creating a life after sport legacy for the players.”

This year Mr Ha became the first Australasian to author a title with the highly selective Forbes Books. In his book, 'The Art of Exponential Success: How Little Steps, Big Discipline, and Boundless Compassion Can Transform Your Life,' he shares his remarkable journey, offering steps to build a meaningful life and career. Remarkable and improbable, his life story spans from war-torn Vietnam and Hong Kong refugee camps to establishing a billion-dollar real estate empire.

"As a boy, I sold dented food cans on the streets to survive. My book shows you how I shed my ‘refugee’ mentality and instead embraced the idea of exponential success,” he says. “I explain, from my own experience, how to grow wealth, keep it, and maintain a positive mindset even if you face setbacks."

“My book has lessons based around my philosophy of small steps leading to big results, creating a disciplined life, having no limits in thinking and practising boundless compassion.”

The Art of Exponential Success was released in hardcover worldwide in March and is available through Amazon. https://amzn.to/3IbVIRy

Mr Ha expects RE/MAX to be an even greater brand in New Zealand and Fiji in five years’ time, which he says is an outcome of its values - loyalty, trust, respect and hard work.