The ‘greying establishment figures’ of Auckland are being superseded by a new generation of businesspeople, artists, politicians, journalists and sportspeople. This is the view of Metro magazine, which in 2007 attempted to identify who makes up the emerging influential set of Auckland. This blog post surveys the results of Metro’s roll-call of ‘Aucklanders in their 40s and younger who will make a difference in their fields over the next decade’. [Read more below]
While such ‘power lists’ are always subjective and prone to all sorts of journalistic errors, they do provide an interesting snapshot of the configurations and nature of power. The Metro’s list of ‘Auckland influentials’ attempts to give a flavour of the individuals of emerging importance from a number of different sectors. The following people are part of the ‘new liberal establishment’ – or at least part of the challenge to it.
Music magnate Campbell Smith is on the list because of his virtual monopoly on the management of the Auckland music scene. Not only does he run the annual Big Day Out, his CRS Management company looks after leading musicians such as Bic Runga and Brooke Fraser. He’s also the chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ). He’s married to Boh Runga.
So-called “Modern investor”, Andrew Clements, is the epitome of the contemporary Auckland business establishment. He has his own investment vehicle, Zeus Capital, part-owns a winery (Palliser Estate), and is on the board of 12 companies. As well as these business ventures, Clements is a trustee of Graeme Dingle’s Foundation for Youth Development. But Metro says his ‘power comes not from being connected, but from being connected to the money’.
Greg Muir has been part of a number of New Zealand’s so-called success stories: he led the extension of the Pumpkin Patch empire of kids’ clothing from 90 stores to over 180 throughout many countries; he ran The Warehouse for five years, and is now the chairman of the Hanover Group (New Zealand’s largest privately owned finance company). He also has a huge influence in Auckland rugby, being a director of Auckland Rugby and the Eden Park Trust Board, as well as chairman of the Blues Super 14 franchise. Little over a year ago he was named by Management magazine as NZ’s executive of the year.
Selwyn Pellet is on the list because he runs multiple high-tech companies, including internet security company Endace, which is the only NZ company listed on the London Stock Exchange’s alternative investment market. He’s also helping guide government policy in the IT sector.
Non-Aucklanders will see Sara Tetro’s inclusion in the Auckland list as appropriate. She’s made her fortune and profile through reality TV, management of celebrities, and the professionalisation of sport. As the founder of The People Shop, Tetro provides fodder for shows such as Celebrity Treasure Island; as a celebrity agent she looks after the advertising careers of Daniel Carter, Michael Campbell, Wendy Petrie and Marc Ellis; and as board member of the New Zealand Rugby Players Association Tetro’s ‘been instrumental in setting up collective bargaining for professional rugby players’. She also does the mandatory charity work of an ‘Auckland influential’ by helping the North Shore Hospital Foundation and Springboard Trust (‘which helps principals of low-decile primary schools in South Auckland with governance issues’).
David Skilling is one of the few of Metro’s ‘Auckland influentials’ that’s also currently in the Listener’s Power List. He’s in both due to his control of the New Zealand Institute, a politically-savvy think tank associated with ‘forward thinking’ and modernisation. Metro notes that Skilling previously taught at Harvard University and worked at Treasury.
New Lynn MP David Cunliffe is credited by Metro as being ‘one of Labour’s heavy hitters, and a contender for even bigger jobs in the future’. He is described as highly ambitious and business-savvy. His background is given as ‘former diplomat, economist and strategy consultant with the Boston Consulting Group’, and therefore Metro sees him as a future ‘finance or foreign affairs minister’.
Metro believes that West Auckland MP Paula Bennett is the ‘New National Party face’ despite – or maybe ‘because’ - being something of a ‘rough diamond’ by the party’s usual standards. The magazine predicts that ‘the 38-year-old is a shoo-in for advancement under a National-led government. Yes, it helps that she’s a Maori woman in a party that struggles to attract good Maori or women candidates but she has proven herself a savvy political operator’. Unlike the archetypal National MP, Bennett is ‘a single parent who knows what it’s like to work in hospitality and retail jobs, giving her an authority on welfare and education issues that other, privately schooled voices often lack’.
Unsurprisingly, John Key is picked as a future Auckland prime minister. His pragmatism and savvy nature is focused on by Metro, who says that he’s no radical ideologue and he’s no Don Brash: ‘There’d be tax cuts, yes, but even if the economy went bung, there would be no lurching off down the paths favoured by Brash and an earlier generation of purists. Key doesn’t pick unnecessary fights or waste his political capital on ideological squabbles’.
Rookie Northcote MP Jonathan Coleman is picked as another future minister, if not future leader of the National Party. The magazine notes that ‘John Key thinks enough of him to have given him the broadcasting spokesmanship, in which role he has turned the screws on Labour’s Steve Maharey’.
Phil Twyford is an aspiring MP with the right background and all the right connections according to Metro. He’s worked in Helen Clark’s electorate office, he’s been a journalist, worked as a union organiser, ‘spent a dozen years campaigning with Oxfam, first as chief of the New Zealand organisation then lobbying in Washington’, and now he’s the secretary on Labour’s policy committee. After being elected in 2008, he’s sure to ‘punch well above the weight of a typical first-term MP and rise quickly’.
Unite union organiser, Matt McCarten, is judged to be ‘still full of fight even if the battleground has shifted’ from parliamentary politics. But Metro still wonders: ‘Can that street-level activism ever translate again into a political force?’ His influence also comes from ‘his typically straight-talking Herald on Sunday column’.
McCarten’s ex-Alliance comrade Laila Harré is labelled as the ‘Workers’ voice’ by Metro. She’s influential not just for her work in the union movement – first in the Nurse Union, then with the National Distribution Union – but also because she ‘provides one of the clearest voices of opposition to some of the prevailing economic orthodoxies’.
Labour’s next generation is said by Metro to include Kate Sutton, who already holds a number of titles on the liberal-left. In recent years she has chaired the Tamaki Community Board, been president of the Auckland University Students Association, represented alumni on the university council, been elected Women’s Vice-President of the Labour Party, acted as International Secretary of Young Labour, and been project manager for a community education trust in South Auckland. Metro says ‘it won’t be long before the 26-year-old stands for parliament’.
New Zealand Herald Editor Tim Murphy is obviously in the Metro’s power list. The magazine says that ‘Murphy has spent most of his journalistic career at the Herald and came to the editor’s chair in November 2001, aged 37, with a promise to maintain the paper’s intellectual rigour’, and in the job he’s kept a low profile and made the political leanings of the paper less detectable – but this was written prior in earlier 2007 and prior to the EFA. The conservative Herald has daily sales of about 191,000, and is therefore incredibly powerful. Furthermore, Metro says that ‘if the Herald thinks something is significant, politicians tend to agree’. Murphy is therefore pivotal.
The Herald’s columnist Tapu Misa is seen as influential as she’s ‘and has long been the most prominent brown voice in the mainstream print media’. The Samoan-born Misa is also ‘a long-serving member of the Broadcasting Standards Authority’.
Julie Christie is apparently regarded as ‘a potential future head of Television New Zealand’. She’s already made a fortune setting up and then selling her television production company Eyeworks, and ‘has done lucrative deals in Hollywood and London’. Metro believes she’s ‘unrivalled locally as a creator and producer of television formats’.
Another television production company supreme, Paul Casserly, is seen as an ‘Auckland influential’ due to his work on such series as Eating Media Lunch. He’s also ‘the core member of electronic act Strawpeople’.
TVNZ’s new head of news and current affairs, Anthony Flannery is judged to have been successful in ‘turning One News around after a disastrous drop in the ratings’. His role will impact on the future of broadcast journalism in NZ.
Although assumed by many to be passed his prime, Mike Hosking will take over the breakfast show on Newstalk ZB from Paul Holmes later this year. Being the ‘radio star’ of ‘the country’s highest-rating radio station’ naturally puts him on the list.
Russell Brown is on Metro’s list, probably because he seems to be everywhere in the liberal-modern media: ‘he regularly writes about in the Listener’, he blogs on ‘his award-winning website Public Address’, he runs ‘into a radio show on Radio Live’, and ‘he’s one of the few freelancers allowed to write for competing titles Unlimited and Idealog’. He’s also does work for the Sound Archive, the Broadcasting Standards Authority, and New Zealand On Air. Furthermore in 2008 he's going to be fronting the new media programme called Media 7 on the new TVNZ Freeview channel TVNZ 7, which has been funded for 34 episodes.
Shane Bosher is the theatre director at the Silo. Metro credits Bosher with rejuvenating the theatre by shifting ‘the theatre’s focus away from New Zealand experimental work in favour of tried (sometimes controversial) international work by playwrights’.
Oscar Kightley was named Arts Laureate in 2006, and his artistic influence is clearly nationwide, with the cartoon animation bro’Town incredibly successful. It’s onto the fourth series, and is changing the way that a lot of people think about issues of ethnicity, culture and nationhood.
Former Black Cap Justin Vaughan is included as an ‘Auckland influential’, partly because he’s the CEO of New Zealand Cricket. As well as being ‘a medical doctor with an MBA’, Vaughan used to be ‘was chief executive of BrainZ Instruments, a multi-national medical technology start-up selling brain monitoring equipment’.
In the field of Rugby, Rob Nichol is judged to be one of the most important because he’s the boss of the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association. Metro says that ‘his rugby work will undoubtedly most shape the country’s future state of mind’. He’s also the executive director of the New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association.
Others featured in the Metro list were:
Mark Donaldson / Noise controller
P-Money / Hip hop entrepreneur
Michael Parekowhai / Artist
Nastasha Conland / Curator
The New Zealand Trio / Chamber stars
Anna Miles / Artmeister
Ralph Buck / Dancer
John Chen / Concert pianist
Ant Timpson / Film buff
Nicholas Stevens and Gary Lawson / Architects
Andrew Patterson / Architect
Claire French / Biochemist
Steve O’Shea / Squid man
Bronwen Connor / Pharmacologist
Peter Shepherd / Biotechnologist
Valerie Vili and Kirsten Hellier / Shot put
Brian "Bluey" McClennan / League coach
Roger Mortimer / Sports agent
The full article is available online here.