- Politicians do well on the power list. Although there are only 12 MPs in the whole list, 4 out of the top 5 are politicians. New entries include Simon Power, Judith Collins, Tony Ryall and Nick Smith.
- The Listener sure to do love John Key – although he’s too managerial and not rightwing enough
- The A-list ‘Top 10’ has been expanded by the peculiar inclusion of Phil Goff in the #11 position!
- One significant change in the A-list is Rodney Hide’s elevation from #7 to #4,
- Notably, Rightwing Treasury boss John Whitehead jumps into the A-list at #9
- Air New Zealand’s Rob Fyfe’s sudden inclusion at #6 of the A-list is a bit trivial
- The Listener heralds the inclusion of the country’s senior receiver, Michael Stiassny at #7, as ‘the most telling detail about this year’s Power List’
- Tariana Turia, is the only woman in the Top 10 power list at #8
- There are seven women on the power list this year; there are seven Maori
- The Environment category is distinguished by the arrival of five completely new environmental power listers – including Gareth Morgan. Nick Smith surges into the #1 spot from nowhere
- Four of ‘Business & Economy’ places go to either new entries or re-entries on the power list
- All five of last year’s Maoridom power listers have been delisted from this category in 2009; Pita Sharples is #2, transferring from #6 on the 2008 A-list, and coming in for criticism from the Listener
- In the Media category, John Armstrong of the New Zealand Herald is #3. And David Farrar has finally made the power list.
The Top 10 A-list
Those at the top of the top 10 A-list remain the same as in 2008: John Key at #1, Bill English #2, and Alan Bollard #3. The Listener sure to do love John Key (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb). They even say that he has been ‘identified by leadership scholars as pioneering an entirely new style of political leadership in this country’, and paint him as a very successful and unique prime minister:
so far his reasonable, moderate demeanour and light-handed management has worked magic for the Government’s standing. He has been the polar opposite of Helen Clark, resisting both the micromanagement of others’ portfolios and playing favourites in the caucus.
Where Key is to be criticized by the Listener, it’s for being too managerial and not rightwing enough:
the compulsive dealmaker in him may have cost him the opportunity – while his novelty value and popularity are still high – to take the bold, voter-testing measures that may be needed to shore up the economy. His management so far suggests he is more centre than centre-right. Distinctive, National-flavoured reforms on his watch have been comparatively few
Bill English’s position at #2 seems a bit kind, as his shine has certainly been dulled during 2009. Yet his strength is possibly in his moderation, which helps keep the Government popular. The Listener notes that English (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb) has ‘resisted the policy lurches’ and moves slowly trying to take supporters and stakeholders with him: ‘Famously cautious, he has been taking his time weighing up his reform options – far too much time, according to the business and agricultural sectors’. The Listener suggests there is an ‘ambient tension’ between English and Key: ‘John Key is known to be resistant to sweeping fiscal reforms, whereas English – egged on by many in the National Party and Act – is leaning towards stiffer measures’.
As well as pronouncing Bill English as a success in managing the economy, the Listener also awards the Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard at the next position on the list at #3 because his ‘steady hand has helped marshal the economy through a stressful and difficult year’. Along with other A-listers, English and Treasury’s John Whitehead, he has managed to reassure the markets of the safety of investments in New Zealand.
One significant change in the A-list is Rodney Hide’s elevation from #7 to #4, which seems hard to justify. It’s again worth noting that for last year’s list, political scientist Jon Johansson dissented from Hide being on the A-list at all. Furthermore, the Listener actually makes a number of vague criticisms of Hide in the commentary.
Steven Joyce remains at #5, which is probably an understatement – he’s a real powerful influence within government, and can be expected to have a higher position, at least in 2010. The Listener makes the following insightful comment about Joyce (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb):
Though a first term MP, he has slotted naturally into the inevitable nucleus of ministers around the Prime Minister who dominate the Cabinet. Extremely close to John Key, he also forms a bridge between National’s old guard and its ambitious new MPs. Experienced in the backroom as party campaign chief, and business-savvy as a successful radio entrepreneur, he also shares Key’s ease of manner in public situations.
Air New Zealand’s Rob Fyfe’s sudden inclusion at #6 doesn’t appear to be very strongly backed up in the Listener description (after not previously making the any part of the wider list at all). In fact the Listener says he’s ‘neither a gifted orator nor a particularly charismatic presence’. His inclusion is explained, however, by his ‘reputation as an outstanding executive, the best evidence of which is that the national airline is making a profit’ under his control. He’s lauded for using ‘the recession as an opportunity, announcing the decision to stock up on new aircraft while they are going cheap’. He’s also ‘a talented and sincere communicator’ who ‘spends a day a month on the shop floor alongside frontline workers’ and is apparently at ease chatting to cleaners. Fyfe’s inclusion in the A-list thus seems to be a bit trivial.
The Listener heralds the inclusion of the country’s senior receiver, Michael Stiassny (pictured on the right) at #7, as ‘the most telling detail about this year’s Power List…. Yes, it has been a tough year; a year when debt became a dirty word, when old power bases were weakened by the recession’. Stiassny, a receiver with firm KordaMentha is apparently ‘in hot demand from banks keen to limit their losses as the economic slump sends increasing numbers of companies to the wall. With 25 years’ experience in insolvency work, he’s the country’s senior receiver’. He’s also ‘big in the horse-racing industry as chairman of the Racing Board’.
Tariana Turia, is the only woman in the Top 10 power list at #8, and you can’t help wondering if her placement is to ensure that the male dominance of the A–list isn’t open to criticism (Helen Clark no longer qualifies in 2009). The Listener justifies Turia’s inclusion on the basis of her attainment of a number of ‘policy trophies’ such as the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act, the Whanau Ora project (devolving sizable chunks of the welfare budget to Maori), and the concessions to iwi over the ETS. The magazine even goes as far as suggesting that Turia (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb) ‘may be the most successful minor party coalition leader of the MMP era’ – which is quite some claim, until you think of the competition, yet it still seems a stretch.
Rightwing Treasury boss John Whitehead jumps into the A-list at #9 (after a disappearance from the wider power list for the last three years) on the basis that he ‘has found his voice in his calls for bold policies to address the country’s unbalanced economy’ and ‘leading the rethink on how the public service can deliver more services for less’. Apparently he has strong influence with Bill English through regular ‘wide-ranging evening chats in English’s office’. Whitehead’s inclusion is clearly notable, and probably well warranted. The 2010 Budget might well reflect this judgment.
Peter Jackson is #10 on the A-list, which is probably fair but uninteresting. Yet Jackson wasn’t even deemed influential enough to make the wider power list for the previous two years. Obviously the forthcoming Avatar, The Hobbit, the Lovely Bones, and the Tintin movies warrant his inclusion.
In my commentary last year, I stated that ‘the exclusion of Phil Goff is particularly interesting. Never before has the Leader of the Opposition be left off the Power List’. This year, the Listener panel couldn’t quite bring themselves to put Opposition leader Phil Goff (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb) in the Top 10, which is understandable, so they’ve established a peculiar #11 position for him within the Top 10!
In order to make way for the five new inclusions in the Top 10 A-list, two A-listers have moved off to the Maoridom category (Tumu te Heuheu to Maoridom’s #1 and Pita Sharples to Maoridom’s #2), one A-lister, Gareth Morgan has moved to the Environment category, #2, and unsurprisingly, both Helen Clark and Michael Cullen have dropped right off.
Government & Law
The previous ‘Law’ category has been expanded into a ‘Government & Law’ one – and there are three newcomers to the list of the five most powerful, as well as one re-entry. Geoffrey Palmer is the only power lister to remain from 2008, although he drops a place, and it’s noted that ‘With the change of government, that power has waned significantly’ but he retains the respect of Justice Minister Simon Power and his position as president of the Law Commission.
The retread is Garth McVicar at #5 – previously overall at #32 in 2006 – whose influence is derived from his control of the Sensible Sentencing Trust which ‘has been influential in seeing laws introduced that have enhanced police powers, increased sentences and enabled victims to be heard’. The Listener notes that within Cabinet there are many ‘like-minded’ people, if not friends of, McVicar.
The newcomers to the Government & Law category are Simon Power at #1, Judith Collins at #3, and Rob Cameron at #4. Power (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb) is seen as a liberal on justice and law, yet has pushed through the Government’s ‘drive to be tougher on law and order’ – which suggests his strong pragmatism, and the Listener says, his potential future to replace John Key as PM.
Judith Collins (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb), is by contrast, a hardliner and not a favourite of the press gallery apparently. She’s at #3 due to her ‘strong grasp of the portfolio’ and ‘sound political instincts’.
Rob Cameron’s inclusion at #4 is a blast from the past. He’s there because of his strong advising on SOEs and involvement ‘in many high-profile private-sector transactions’ – whatever that means!
Dropping off the list from 2008 are: Solicitor-General David Collins, Te Arawa lawyer Annette Sykes, Criminal lawyer Greg King, and President of the Police Association Greg O'Connor.
As usual, state employees make up a significant proportion of those that run New Zealand according to the Listener. There are about seven state bureaucrats of one form or another in the list, which is probably a fair representation of power in New Zealand. For example, John Anderson is #3 on the Health, Education and Social Issues list. Anderson ‘is chairman of TVNZ, Capital & Coast District Health Board and the NZ Venture Investment Fund’ and in 2008 ‘was appointed commissioner of the struggling Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’.
Two public servants that are not included on the list, but noted anyhow are Brian Roche and Margaret Bazley. Roche has a whole string of recent jobs/appointments to suggest his power within government: new chief executive of NZ Post, negotiator for the purchase of KiwiRail, project manager in the bid for the Rugby World Cup 2011 hosting rights, an adviser on Treaty settlements, chair of the NZ Transport Agency, deputy commissioner of the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, and fix-it man for the previously troubled Te Wananga Aotearoa.
Margaret Bazley is similarly well integrated in government power: previously head of the ministries of Transport and Social Welfare, more recently she has led the review of the legal aid system, been a member of the Waitangi Tribunal, chair of the Fire Service, headed the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct, and been a member of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.
Science & Technology
The previous ‘Science’ category has been expanded into a ‘Science & Technology’ one – with two newcomers to the list of the five most powerful, as well as one re-entry.
Unsurprisingly, Peter Gluckman moves up to #1 (from #3) after he ‘became the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser in July’. The Listener reports that ‘one insider calls him the real Minister of Science’. Working with Gluckman is the #4, Stephen Goldson, who ‘is a go-to guy for ministers and other bigwigs who want to talk science policy’.
Jenny Morel – also the partner of Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard – is back on the list after being dropped in 2008, on the basis of her ‘pioneering venture capitalism’. One of seven women on the 2009 list, Morel is apparently ‘also on the board of Global Women, formed this year to create a powerful sisterhood of businesswomen’.
Internet accounting pioneer Rod Drury and CRI CEO Shaun Coffey are new to this category. Falling off the list are Jim Watson, Garth Carnaby, and – justifiably – Jim Anderton.
Health, Education & Social Issues
This is a new, rather amorphous, category in the power list, replacing 2008’s ‘Health & Medicine’ list. It has three new ‘power listers’: Tony Ryall (#1), Rod Carr (#4) and Nigel Latta (#5). Sue Bradford is a re-entry to the power list, although there isn’t a lot of justification made for her re-appearance and her inclusion seems to be more of a political obituary and tribute. Public sector CEO John Anderson is also back, at #3.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canterbury, Rod Carr, is deemed to be a power lister, with the Listener noting that ‘he started trading shares when he was 12’, became the deputy governor or the Reserve Bank, before then heading Jade Corporation. He’s recently launched a $100m philanthropic bond issue for the university. But is Carr really more powerful than David Skegg of Otago University or Stuart McCutcheon of Auckland University? (Furthermore, Carr only made it to #18 on The Press' power list for Christchurch).
The Environment category is distinguished by the arrival of five completely new environmental power listers. Only Gareth Morgan (#2) has been a power lister before, but was not associated with the environment until his book, Poles Apart: Beyond the Shouting, Who’s Right about Climate Change?
Nick Smith (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb) surges into the #1 spot from nowhere. Last year, I commented on his absence, saying, ‘To me it would have seemed much more realistic to have ranked Nick Smith at #1 in this category – instead he surprisingly doesn’t make it anywhere onto the Power List. Regardless of whether Smith’s blue-green environmental politics are good or not, he’s very clearly a very well-researched and well-connected and competent environmentalist. What’s more he’s now Minister for the Environment, charged with creating an Environment Protection Agency, the minister in charge of climate change legislation, and the Minister for ACC!’ So I’m glad to see Smith’s now a properly registered as part of the elite Establishment. The Listener declares Smith’s ‘ETS is a triumph of politics over principle’.
The fluidity of the Environment category, means that all five from this category have been delisted, and probably rightly so. They were: David Parker, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Russel Norman, Jan Wright (Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment), and David Wratt (Leader of the National Climate Centre at NIWA).
Business & Economy
Graeme Hart is once again uncontroversially deemed the most powerful and influential New Zealander in business and economy in 2009. The Listener points out that he is ranked 110th on Forbes’ World Billionaires 2009 list, is worth an estimated $8.1 billion, and was described by Forbes Asia magazine this year as the ‘master of the leveraged buyout’. The NBR says that Hart (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb) ‘singlehandedly built his company from nothing to the size of Fonterra in just 20 years. According to Forbes, Mr Hart has achieved greater success than global business celebrities including Rupert Murdoch. His Rank Group is, of course, 100% New Zealand owned’. It still seems strange that back in 2007 the Listener demoted him from #2 to #29, and in 2009 I would put him on the A-list.
The other four ‘Business & Economy’ places go to either new entries or re-entries on the power list. Leaving the list in 2009 are: Adrian Orr (CEO of New Zealand Superannuation Fund management company, Mark Weldon CEO of New Zealand Exchange, Craig Norgate (leader of Wrightson) and Jim Bolger. It’s hard to understand Orr’s demotion, but the Listener explains that Norgate was delisted due to him losing ‘his sheen when his plan to merge PGG Wrightson and Silver Fern Farms fell apart’. Norgate’s delisting is justified, and in fact last year I protested his continued inclusion on the list, saying ‘Craig Norgate’s inclusion is also problematic… in recent years he’s been fired from the top of Fonterra and stuffed up in his attempt to reorganize the meat industry… So why has he jumped from 27 on the overall list to #4 on the business list?’
Jim Bolger was previously on the list due to chairmanship of state owned entities such as Kiwibank, and seems to have been replaced on the list by Kiwibank CEO Sam Knowles (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb) who is #2 in this category. The Listener notes Kiwibank’s success: ‘Its steady growth has defied all expectations, adding market share by one percentage point each year since it started…. It turned in a healthy $52.5 million profit this year – up 43% on last year’.
Business lobbyist Phil O’Reilly is back on the list (at #3) after a strange absence in 2008 – which I noted in last year’s commentary. O’Reilly (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb) was once described in the Listener as the ‘unchallenged voice of collective business’, and was on so many [Labour] government quangos that he’s generally seen as ‘the spider at the centre of the web’. In 2009 the Listener says ‘O’Reilly has been influential in Government thinking, helping fill some of National’s many policy gaps’.
‘Boardroom maestro’ John Palmer is back on the list (#4), again representing the numerous captains of industry that now straddle the private-public owned industries – he is chair of Air New Zealand and Solid Industry, but is also on the boards of AMP and Rabobank Australia.
Tax expert John Shewan is ranked at #5 in this category on the basis that he ‘chairs the biggest of the big four accounting groups, PricewaterhouseCoopers’, he’s ‘a talented communicator’ and is ‘the go-to guy for politicians and journalists looking for insight on tax matters’.
All five of last year’s Maoridom power listers have been delisted from this category in 2009 – which seems rather rash. In particular, Paul Morgan, a well-connected lobbyist and the CEO of the Federation of Maori Authorities is the most conspicuous and surprising deletion. In 2008 he was #1 in this category on the basis that he controls assets of $5 billion and I can see no reason for his influence and power evaporating. Furthermore, Morgan was in fact a significant factor in the current Government’s recent controversial decision to conceed nearly $50m to five iwi over the introduction of the ETS. In 2007 the Listener said that Morgan had been ‘a significant irritant to the government’ due to his defence of ‘Maori property rights’. Then in 2008 the magazine reported that he had had his message heard by National.
Jim Mather, CEO of Māori Television, was previously at #2 in the Maoridom category, but has been shifted to #2 of the Media category of power listers.
At #1 in Maoridom in 2009 is Tumu te Heuheu – the Tuwharetoa paramount chief. He was previously deemed the 4th most powerful person in New Zealand, but has been shifted off that A-list. te Heuheu’s power comes from his leadership of eight Central North Island iwi in their bid for the return to tribal ownership of $450 million worth of forestry land and cash from the Crown, which was finally transferred this year, making the collective ‘the largest single forestry landowner in the country’.
Pita Sharples is #2 on the Maoridom list, transferring from #6 on the 2008 A-list. After lauding him in 2008 as one of the most powerful New Zealanders and the ‘defacto leader of the Maori Party’, the Listener commentary on him in 2009 is rather critical:
Sharples has proved a surprisingly cack-handed political operator: an old dog who cannot learn the new tricks of coalition management…. his unilateral decisions to do his own thing, without even warning co-leader Tariana Turia, have fuelled National suspicions that he is sly rather than simply unpolished
Examples of the loose Sharples (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb) include: his decision to meet and tacitly encourage Fijian dictator Frank Mainimarama’, declaring the Government would sign the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples Rights, meeting with gang leaders, and his involvement in the Maori TV rugby world cup bid. The Listener also cites his ‘uneasy relations with Turia and some Maori Party staff not having helped’. Perhaps Sharples will be off the list completely in 2010?
A nice example of modern Maoridom can be found at #3 on the list: Business Roundtable chair Rob McLeod (pictured on the right). As the Listener says, McLeod ‘straddles the Maori and Pakeha worlds’ and has been favourable with both Labour and National governments. In the last year he has worked in a number of review positions:
the Capital Markets Development Taskforce; the Tax Working Group; the Taskforce on the Maori Economy; the National Infrastructure Advisory Board; and the Defence Review
In addition, McLeod is ‘an adviser to Tainui Group Holdings and chief negotiator for his iwi, Ngati Porou, on its Treaty claim’. Although McLeod figured on the first two power lists, he then stayed off for the next three years, probably reflecting the discredited and unpopular image of the Business Roundtable.
Newcomer to the 2009 Maoridom list, Katerina Mataira is at #5, as a ‘language pioneer’ (essentially replacing Linguist Wharehuia Milroy who was #3 last year). She seems to have an impressive history ‘at the forefront of the Maori language revival’ – setting ‘up the first Maori language class in a state school in 1956’, helping establish the first Maori language immersion school in 1985 and then becoming a founding member of the Maori Language Commission in 1987. But is this 77-year-old really the 5th most powerful in Maoridom? Similarly, at #4 is ‘activist minister’ Hone Kaa, without any overwhelming justification.
In the Sport category, four out of five power listers are completely new: Martin Snedden (CEO of Rugby NZ 2011), Daniel Vettori (Black Caps captain), Ricki Herbert (All Whites coach), and Peter Dale (NZ Community Trust Chairman). Valerie Vili retains her position of #4. Gone are John Wells, Scott Dixon, Steve Price, and Alan Isaac.
The Primary Sector is a renamed version of last year’s Agriculture category. The first two positions remain the same – Chris Kelly (CEO of Landcorp; married to Fran Wilde) is #1 and Henry van der Heyden (Chairman of Fonterra) is #2. Chris Kelly, the Listener notes, is working in a tough sector but ‘the country’s biggest corporate farmer’ still made a ‘respectable (albeit reduced) net profit of $10.3 million’. van der Heyden’s position is justifiably safe on the power list, because ‘As chair of Fonterra, Henry van der Heyden oversees 8% of New Zealand’s GDP’ and 10,500 farmer shareholders. van der Heyden (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb) ‘has also been on the board of Auckland Airport since September, has several directorships with smaller companies, and has farming interests in the Waikato and Chile. Agribusiness is clearly alive and well in New Zealand.
The new additions to this power list category seem sensible: the Talley brothers at #3, Alan Hubbard at #4, and Keith Cooper at #5.
Peter and Andrew Talley – who the NBR report as having a $300m fortune – control ‘an increasingly powerful dynasty that straddles the fishing, vegetable processing, meat and dairy sectors’ as well as being stakeholders in South Pacific Meats, Affco meat processor, and Wyatt Creech-created Open Country Cheese (which ‘is the No 2 milk processor in the country’).
Alan Hubbard is important to this sector because of his finance company South Canterbury Finance which apparently backs ‘struggling local farmers and businesses’ – especially in the South Island. Hubbard (pictured on the right - by Murray Webb) ‘also owns the biggest helicopter outfit in the country’ as well as much of Dairy Holdings (58 farms).
Cooper runs the biggest meat company in New Zealand – Silver Fern Farms co-op (previously known as PPCS).
Arts, Culture & Entertainment
Renamed ‘Arts, Culture & Entertainment’ from just ‘Culture’, this category is mostly the same as in 2008. Richard Taylor of Weta Workshops is now at #1, the Flight of the Conchords and Auckland music mongul Campbell Smith are still there. Newcomers are South Pacific Pictures CEO John Barnett at #3 (shifting from the Media category) and Jane Wrightson – the NZ on Air CEO – at #4.
Those populating the Media category have changed significantly from 2008. Most significantly, the blogosphere is finally acknowledged with the inclusion of Kiwiblogger David Farrar (pictured on the right) at #4. The Listener says:
the genial and rotund Farrar has been compiling his blue-tinted mix of news, analysis and opinion since 2003, during which time Kiwiblog has become part of the daily routine for Beltway insiders and others with an interest in politics and public policy. Despite long-standing National Party affiliations, Farrar has been known to take a whack at his own side and to give an approving nod to Labour and the Greens on the rare occasions when their positions accord with his own.
John Fellet, the Sky TV boss has shifted up from #4 to #1. The Listener notes the power of his company: ‘More than 779,000 households now subscribe to Sky TV – that’s nearly 50% of the population – and 100,000-plus homes are hooked up to MySky’.
The Maori TV boss Jim Mather is #2. The Listener says that ‘Maori TV’s emergence as a major media player that can no longer be ignored’.
John Armstrong of the New Zealand Herald is #3:
Amstrong’s opinion carries weight because he has been covering politics for a long time (since 1985) and has acquired a reputation for being scrupulously fair and balanced…. when he expresses himself forcefully, politicians take notice
‘Radio jock’ Murray Deaker is #5. Apparently he is ‘the acknowledged king of sports radio’ and was voted ‘best sports presenter’ for the sixth time in 2009.
A representation imbalance?
Politicians do well on the power list. Although there are only 12 MPs in the whole list, 4 out of the top 5 are politicians, and 7 in the ‘Top 10’ A-list. Ministers of the Crown, in particular, are well represented, with 10 on the wider power list. Other ‘non-MP politicos’ on the list include David Farrar, Geoffrey Palmer, Sue Bradford, John Armstrong, and Garth McVicar.
Of the 64 people on the power list, by my rough count, 27 are some sort of business owners or ‘captains of industry’. But in many ways its surprising that more businesspeople aren’t recognized by the Listener as being part of the power elite. The stark reality is that, for better or worse, businesspeople effectively run this country and have vast influence over our lives – thus the NBR’s annual Rich List is probably a much better indication of where real power really lies. It’s therefore surprising that the Listener doesn’t include such people on their list as Jan Cameron and the Todd family.
Of course, while business and its allies are still relatively well represented on the power list, there are no direct representative of the labour movement on the list. There’s no Andrew Little or Helen Kelly. Such exclusions are, of course, probably a much greater reflection of the labour movement than of the Listener. The movement is still incredibly weak and seemingly irrelevant. But if anyone from the movement was to be included, I’d advocate that it be the Unite union’s leader Matt McCarten. He heads a relatively tiny union, but punches well above his union weight, is significantly influential on the political left, and is still someone to watch out for in the future – especially if he ever rebuilds a leftwing parliamentary political party to mop up the leftwing and working class votes currently ignored or taken for granted by Labour and the Greens. Other key leaders and thinkers in this regard are Laila Harre and Chris Trotter who might well find themselves on the Listener’s power list in the future.
There are seven women on the power list this year (Tariana Turia, Judith Collins, Jenny Morel, Sue Bradford, Katerina Mataira, Jane Wrightson, and Valerie Vili) – down from eight last year. Female power is thus, still only a small element of the New Zealand Establishment (despite the fact that fairly recently women occupied the top five constitutional positions in government). Previously included on various Listener power lists, and conspicuous by their absence are Sian Elias, Kerry Prendergast, Julie Christie, Trelise Cooper, and Paula Rebstock. Other women who have more deservedly fallen from the list include Jenny Gibbs, Helen Clark, Heather Simpson, Jeanette Fitzsimmons, Theresa Gattung, Kaye Parker, June Jackson, and Annette Sykes. There’s a few other female NBR Rich Listers who could obviously be included, such as retailer Jan Cameron (worth $340m) and liquor billionaire Lynette Erceg.
There are seven Maori on the wider power list – which is only slightly under-representative of wider New Zealand society, and therefore suggestive that there are at least some Maori who actually have significant power in NZ. But some that have been excluded seem a bit surprising: broadcaster and Maori Party champion Willie Jackson, MP (and future Labour leader?) Shane Jones, Judge Joe Williams, and Ngai Tahu’s Mark Solomon (who's recently strengthened leadership of Ngai Tahu's $600m surely counts for something).
Geographically, the North Island dominates once again. But there are at least six South Islanders included: Rod Carr (Christchurch), the Talley brothers (Motueka), Nick Smith (Nelson), Alan Hubbard (Timuru), and Geoffrey Palmer (mostly Nelson).
Conclusion: the fluidity of power in New Zealand
There are 25 new entries to the power list and 11 re-entries by those that were on the list prior to 2008. In all, this means that about 36 delistings have occurred from the 2008 power list of 64. Is such fluidity really credible? As I noticed in last year’s commentary, there were 40 new entries for 2008, and I argued that such a high turnover did not reflect any real fluidity of the power elite in New Zealand, but is more reflective of journalist requirements to say something fresh. Once again there are plenty of signs that journalistic values prevail over analytical ones – which is fair enough. But there’s still room for a more systematic and rigorous analysis of Who runs New Zealand? Watch this space.
Who runs New Zealand in 2007?
Who runs New Zealand in 2008?