People who matter

by Denis Welch / 25 November, 2006
Listed! The New Zealanders who make a difference, the ones who really get things done. For the third year, we identify the country's 50 most powerful citizens.

Trying to identify the 50 most powerful people in New Zealand is probably a kind of madness, but the world loves a list, and the Listener seems to have hit the spot with its Power List over the past two years. Not for nothing do the first four letters of our name spell "list".

Reaction to the last one was wide and varied, not least from regions that felt hard done by because their scions weren't represented on it. On the other hand, there was the kind of response it got from people like John Key, who marvelled at being ranked ninth most powerful person in the country when he couldn't even get his kids to do their homework on time.

Readers can be reassured, however, that in publishing these lists we haven't adjusted for parental status, gender, age, political views or personal domicile; there are no quotas here - and no achieveds, merits or excellences, either.

The art of such a list lies in defining power. Beehive power or boardroom power is reasonably easy to spot, but how many lives does it really affect? Then there's the far less visible power (or influence, if you like) of the unsung community workers and health professionals who literally save lives every day. In exercising their power, such people empower others - with hope, health, even life.

This year, as last, the selection panel were guided by a definition of power as the "ability to influence and shape people's lives, lifestyles and values in New Zealand today". Factors considered under this rubric were:

- Economic influence: for instance, the kind the Reserve Bank Governor or the Finance Minister has.

- Political influence: ministers of the government of the day will always have this, in varying degree, but so can opposition politicians, mayors, public servants, lobbyists and campaigners.

- Social influence: fashion designers, judges, journalists and TV producers, among others, can all affect the way we think and behave.

- Cultural influence: from the haka on the rugby field to the Hotere on the gallery wall.

- National influence: what we feel about ourselves as New Zealanders, our sense of national identity.

In considering the case for each candidate (and they were legion) the panel also kept in mind the questions: what would New Zealand be like if this person wasn't around? Would there be a sense of a gap that no one else could fill?

No one got on the list by virtue of being a "celebrity". No one got on if their influence was considered wholly negative. And no one got on just because they occupied a powerful position: they had to have transcended the position in some way. In the latter regard, it's worth noting that only three Cabinet members (Helen Clark, Michael Cullen and Trevor Mallard) made the list.

One difference to last year, when foreign-born people were ruled out of contention. This time round, the panel felt that "foreigners" such as Andrew Ferrier (Canadian) and Paula Rebstock (American) had done enough to qualify as dinkum Kiwis.

Incredibly, the final list - names and ranking - was arrived at by consensus, after a long day's discussion. No throats were torn out in the making of this list.

==Power Panel==

Sharon Henderson Group Managing Director of DDB New Zealand

Stephen Franks Chapman Tripp lawyer and former Act MP

Pauline Kingi Regional Director of Te Puni Kokiri's Tamaki Makaurau office

Jane Clifton Listener political columnist

Christopher Doig Chair of Creative NZ and board member of SPARC

Jacqueline Rowarth Foundation Chair of pastoral agriculture at Massey University (from January)

Sarah Sandley General Manager Advertising Sales & Marketing for APN NZ and former Listener publisher

Andy Hamilton CEO of The IceHouse (International Centre for Entrepreneurship) at the University of Auckland Business School

===1 - Helen Clark {Prime Minister}===


There was a moment - just a few seconds, really - when this year's Power List selection panel contemplated the idea that Helen Clark no longer deserved to be No 1. Briefly, the walls of Helengrad trembled. Then the moment passed, and the panel regained its senses. Of course she still had the most power. There could be no doubt about it. No more calls, please, we have a winner.

But there has been doubt about Clark this year - probably the shakiest year she has had as PM. As columnist Colin James says, a government starts with a stock of political capital that it consumes over time, and after seven years in office this government's capital is running low. Not used to being behind in the polls, perhaps, Clark has been uncharacteristically defensive and, at times, plain destructive. Calling Don Brash a cancerous influence was way out of line. And her graceless antics over the payback of election campaign overspending - culminating in an attack on the integrity of Auditor-General Kevin Brady (who rockets into the list at No 13 for standing up to Clark) - suggests judgment wobble if not power fatigue. But Clark didn't get where she is by not being a very astute politician, and with National still hesitating over its leadership, a process that seems to have been going on for donkey's years - or at least John Key's years - she has every opportunity yet to strengthen her grip on power and the Power List.

===2 - Graeme Hart {businessman}===


The seemingly unstoppable Hart continues to leap up the list - from 44th two years ago to sixth last year to second this time. Our richest man, whose personal wealth is now thought to be somewhere between $3 billion and $4 billion, he plays with major companies the way others would play with peas on a plate. It's always hard to know exactly what he's up to, however, as his business world remains an intensely private one; his Rank Group office in Auckland is unidentified (it doesn't even have a website: google "Rank Group" and you'll get a British film company), and when he took over public company Carter Holt Harvey he delisted it from the stock exchange and turned it into a private operation, no longer obliged to disclose information about its finances.

But it's no secret that he walked away with a cool $1.1 billion after selling the Uncle Toby's snackfood business to Nestlé Australia in May; and that he has just clinched the takeover of giant Australasian food company Burns Philp, which he'd effectively controlled for some time anyway.

Hart invariably moves at great speed to get what he wants, and when he gets it, or even when he signals that he wants it, it affects the whole business world of Australia and New Zealand - and, increasingly, beyond. The American magazine Forbes now rates him the 451st richest person in the world. Not bad for a former tow-truck driver and panel-beater who left school at 16.

===3 - Michael Cullen {Finance Minister}===


If there's one list that Michael Cullen would comfortably come top of, it would be the one for Understatement of the Year. Interviewed by Jane Clifton for the Listener in June, he routed all contenders for the title by saying, "I am probably a bit obsessed with prudence." Yeah, right. To which he added grouchily: "There has been this obsession [with tax cuts] which is hard to understand, and has led to an almost wilful self-delusion about the government accounts and what they mean. Everybody under the age of about 50 seems to assume that surpluses are some God-given right and they just appear automatically."

Sorry, Michael. Quite right, Michael. But it's that extreme caution of his, which over the years seems to have become almost pathologically ingrained, that keeps him at No 3 or thereabouts. The caution is both positive (equals sensible, unflashy management of the economy) and negative (equals sense of stagnation and fear of change).

However, the fact that he has been going about for several years with our tax cuts in his pocket gives him considerable power. We know, they're in there, but will they ever come out? Ever one for the pithy phrase, Cullen this year described the almost ceaseless demand for tax cuts as a consequence of "prudence fatigue"; but the grouch may yet be a giver.

===4 - Sam Morgan {auction man}===


When Sam Morgan sold Trade Me in March to media giant Fairfax for $700 million he scored $227 million for himself and became one of the richest people in New Zealand overnight. And not a soul begrudged him his success. As Power List selection panellist Stephen Franks points out, "one of the interesting things now is that the country has a number of rich people that they're not bashing". The 30-year-old's smarts in spotting an internet market gap seven years ago is the stuff of legend now: well over a million New Zealanders have since signed up to Trade Me. Morgan, who'll continue to run the auction website till 2008, is dabbling in other IT ventures but the real extent of his influence can be measured by the perturbation in the world of print newspapers: they are losing more and more classified and real-estate advertising to Trade Me. No wonder Fairfax decided "If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em."

===5 - John Fellet {Sky captain}===


Television New Zealand chief Rick Ellis failed entirely to make this year's list; the panel felt unanimously that market-savvy Sky Television CEO John Fellet had far greater claim to power and influence. Not only is Fellet throwing down the gauntlet to TVNZ by using Sky's free-to-air channel Prime to raid TV1's traditional turf, but also Sky's pay-TV customer base continues to climb: 675,000 and still counting. A new Docu-mentary Channel has just started up and the Arts Channel was relaunched in September. Forty-two percent of Kiwi households now get Sky, though some of them didn't for 13 hours in March, when Sky's satellite went on the blink; $1 million in compensation later, the network has a new satellite in orbit. It's also promising video-on-demand for MySky users by next May, plus a new set-top box in 2008 that will enhance computer/television interoperability. Profits are slightly down this year for Sky, but in anyone's box it's a major player.

===6 - Peter Jackson {film-maker}===


What, a whole 12 months and no new film from PJ? Give the guy a break. He's worked his butt off on The Lord of the Rings and King Kong for most of the past decade, and as a result achieved what even Steven Spielberg has never done: put out four consecutive movies grossing more than $US500 million each. Dropped from No 1 to No 11 on Premiere magazine's Hollywood power list but, as Premiere says, he still "gets on the horn regularly with the other technocrat titans - Lucas, Cameron, Spielberg and Zemeckis". Fox and Universal pulled out of a deal to finance Jackson's Halo game project but others will undoubtedly take their place. Next directing task is still likely to be The Lovely Bones, currently being scripted; meanwhile, Jackson keeps a paternal eye on protégé Christian Rivers directing the Dam Busters remake.

===7 - Tumu te Heuheu {paramount chief}===


"When he speaks, Maori listen and defer to him. And he selected Tuheitia." Those are the words of Power List panellist Pauline Kingi, who pinpoints te Heuheu as the man to watch in Maoridom, especially as the new king, Tuheitia, is still growing into the role. The paramount chief of central North Island iwi Tuwharetoa, te Heuheu is spearheading moves towards greater Maori unity: as this Listener is published he's hosting a major gathering of Maori leaders at Pukawa, the place on the western shore of Lake Taupo where the kingitanga movement was born 150 years ago. Last month he also organised a meeting with Ngai Tahu, Tainui and Whanganui leaders to develop a strategy for claiming property rights to the country's fresh water, while on behalf of his own tribe he's pushing for control of Tongariro National Park. On top of all that, in August he was appointed the chair of Unesco's World Heritage Committee - a first for New Zealand - and will host its 2007 conference in Christchurch.

===8 - Don Brash {National Party Leader }===


Sixth in the first Power List, Brash climbed to third last year on the back of almost snatching the election from under Labour's nose. This year, however, his influence has begun to wane, as more and more he's perceived as unlikely to lead National into another election. The man at No 9 hovers just behind him. Still, Brash has shown a remarkable ability to survive scrapes and scandals that would crush other politicians' careers; Don ain't gone till he's gone. Certainly, this time last year many people thought he wouldn't get through another 12 months as National leader. More and more he reminds us of that other Don, no, not Corleone but Quixote, a somewhat absurd but gallant figure who endears himself to us by his very misfortunes. The National caucus may not find them so endearing, however.

===9 - John Key {leader in waiting}===


Key has shown himself eminently capable of being a very sound finance minister - in his public statements on economic matters he has hardly put a foot wrong - but is a completely unknown quantity in just about every other field of public policy. Universally considered a racing certainty to be next leader of the National Party, he is nonetheless in danger of becoming a legend in his own lunchtime if he doesn't challenge Don Brash soon. For the first time he has overtaken Brash in the personal ratings and he just about overtook him on this year's Power List, too. But he marks time at No 9, waiting till he has the numbers, the nous - or the nerve.

===10 - Alan Bollard {Reserve Bank Governor}


Bollard has power all right, tremendous power over exporters' incomes, retailers' revenue and homeowners' solvency. Whether he raises, lowers or leaves alone the official cash rate determines how far the money goes for the rest of us. We hang on his words - when he says them, which is not often. The last significant ones were: "Further monetary policy tightening cannot be ruled out, and any easing of policy remains a considerable way off." That's Bollardese for pretty much anything can happen and probably will.

===11 - Andrew Ferrier {Fonterra CEO}===


Chief executive of Fonterra since 2003, the Canadian was considered an outsider when first appointed but has proved to be a good Kiwi joker by going into bat for our milk and butter. Our only company that registers in even a mildly significant way on the global radar - it's one of the world's top 10 dairy companies - Fonterra turns over more than $12 billion (twice what Telecom does) and generates 20 percent of New Zealand's entire export income. If Fonterra sneezes, the whole economy gets a cold. So far Ferrier has kept the giant cooperative healthy and buoyant. A measure of his power is the growing number of speaking engagements he gets offered on both sides of the Tasman; a measure of the man is that he is willing to accept them, and to talk about his management and leadership philosophy so others might grow.

===12 - Keith Turner {Meridian Energy CEO}===


===13 - Kevin Brady {Auditor-General}===


There used to be a series of cartoons by H M Bateman called "The Man Who ..." in which timid or insignificant individuals breached custom or social convention, eg, "The Man Who Threw a Snowball at St Moritz". We have one of our own now: The Man Who Said No to the Prime Minister. What a year for Kevin Brady. A career bureaucrat for 35 years, he has been Controller and Auditor-General since 2002 but nobody really noticed him until he dared to suggest that political parties, and particularly the Labour Party, misappropriated public money for their election campaign spending last year. All Helen broke loose. Refusing to be browbeaten, however, and maintaining at all times the neutrality of a true public servant, Brady went ahead and delivered an official report along those lines. With an ill grace, the PM finally backed down. A very rare defeat for her and a victory not so much for Brady personally as for the democratic system of accountability he so well represents.

===14 - Paula Rebstock {Cartel-Buster}


Under Rebstock's robust chairmanship, the Commerce Commission has got the corporate sector dancing on hot bricks. This year alone the consumer watchdog saw to it that several major companies paid the price for offences under the Commerce Act and the Fair Trading Act. Air New Zealand and Qantas got seriously pinged ($600,000 and $380,000 respectively for misleading fare information); Carter Holt Harvey copped a $900,000 fine for timber-sales tactics; and all the major banks were penalised for failing to tell their customers about certain fees. Power company Vector also got told off and now Mastercard and Visa face civil proceedings for alleged price-fixing. "New Zealand," said Rebstock in March, "is a country where cartel participants should never feel safe." She might feel a little insecure herself, however, as her term ends next month and there's no guarantee of reappointment; the government is also reviewing competition laws with a view to relaxing them and thereby at least partially de-fanging the Commerce Commission.

===15 - Pita Sharples {Maori Party Co-Leader}===


The grey-locked grandad came perilously close to being hailed the grandfather of the nation in June when he spoke out about the killing of the Kahui twins. His obvious grief, his humanity, his emotion on national television and, perhaps most of all, his willingness to acknowledge serious problems in Maori culture had even opponents praising his leadership and mana. With co-leader Tariana Turia seemingly content to take a back seat, Sharples has been the public face of the Maori Party this year; and he wears it well. As Power List panellist Jane Clifton observes: "Even people who are terrified of the Maori Party can look at Pita Sharples and say, 'I can listen to that guy.'" Oh, and his birthday's the same as Sir Ed's.

===16 - Trevor Mallard {Sport Minister}===


Political strongman and a champion of sport and recreation funding at the Cabinet table. Under his guidance, it has gone from about $38 million to $90 million. Sport has seldom had a more persuasive or effective political influencer than him in the Beehive. He also played a small but crucial part in undermining Don Brash's leadership when he made cracks in the House about "affairs" and the Business Roundtable. This year, however, he remains becalmed at No 16 on the list. Maybe he'll make the top 10 when he finally gets the job he covets - finance minister. If he doesn't blow his credibility on the Rugby World Cup stadium first.

===17 - Tim Murphy {Editor}===


Ironically for someone who's the editor of the most influential newspaper in the country, the New Zealand Herald, Tim Murphy detests personal publicity. Which, traditionalists would say, is entirely proper. The proof of an editor's merit is in the printing, and the Herald, though slowly losing circulation in a tight market, remains pre-eminent as a political and social agenda-setter. This year, says Jane Clifton, "they've made big calls. When they take over a story they own and operate it." Examples: the Kahui case, the Taito Phillip Field inquiry, the electoral spending controversy, the Rugby World Cup stadium debate. When the Herald decides that something's important, politicians tend to think it's important. Under Murphy it has become a genuine campaigning paper. The Herald also has the best political, business and social issues writers, and this year it launched the Business, a classy weekly supplement.

===18 - Allan Hubbard {Businessman}===


There'd be a gaping hole in the South Island economy without Allan Hubbard, the quiet Timaruvian with some 200 directorships and a fortune roughly estimated at $400 million. Yet he still goes to work around 6.30am every day in the 1968 VW Beetle he loves to drive. Recognised as the most powerful businessman in the South Island, with interests in farming and the helicopter, water, rental car and container industries. Chair and major shareholder of South Canterbury Finance, whose assets soared this year to $1 billion. Also a serious philanthropist, although the media-shy, church-going Hubbard stays silent on the full extent of his charity work.

===19 - Sir Edmund Hillary {New Zealander}

last year: 15

He remains our most rock-solid link to a simpler, less clamorous time, when men were men and mountains were there to be climbed, not commercially exploited. And when he speaks, what he says wins respect. No argument. What do we remember from the mid-year controversy over dying British mountaineer David Sharp being passed on Mt Everest by climbers more intent on their personal goals? Not the complicated excuses and explanations but Sir Edmund saying plainly, with unforced morality, "On my expedition there was no way that you would have left a man under a rock to die. It simply would not have happened." He's 87 now, and noticeably frailer, but next year he hopes to fly to Antarctica again to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Scott Base.

===20 - Lloyd Morrison {Investor}===


A major infrastructure investor with an old-fashioned sense of social responsibility, Morrison leaps 29 places up the list, not least because his company Infratil moved to take control of major energy generator TrustPower this year. Infratil also owns the 1000-bus Stagecoach company in New Zealand, two-thirds of Wellington's airport, three European airports (including Glasgow Prestwick), a piece of the Port of Tauranga and other energy assets here and abroad. Named best corporate communicator in the National Business Review Infinz awards, Infratil has generated roughly $1.1 billion in shareholder wealth in the 12 years of its existence. Financial commentator Brian Gaynor says that Morrison is poised to take over (from Sir Ron Brierley) as undisputed champion of New Zealand's investors.

===21 - Dame Sian Elias {Chief Justice}===


The one concrete achievement of the Supreme Court this year was getting the government's agreement to build a flash new courthouse on Lambton Quay at an estimated cost ($65 million) far greater than the measly $25 million originally set aside for a revamp of the old High Court building. That could be counted as a victory for No 1 judge Dame Sian Elias, who has had a testy relationship with Helen Clark and Michael Cullen. In terms of judicial decisions, the Supreme Court has had a light year - some have even said it's been underused - but it remains a sleeping giant whose day in court will, literally, come; and when it does, what Elias and her four fellow judges decide will resonate through the land.

===22 - Jock Hobbs {Rugby Chairman}===


It would not be an exaggeration to call Jock Hobbs the saviour of New Zealand rugby. Things have certainly settled down under his chairmanship. Since the ignominious loss of the right to co-host the last World Cup, the articulate 46-year-old former All Black captain (whose real name, by the way, is Michael James Bowie Hobbs) has steered the Rugby Football Union with a sure hand - and some nimble footwork. He led the way to winning the rights exclusively in 2011, and remains firmly in charge as planning for the actual event intensifies. The way we feel about our rugby is a big factor in how we feel about ourselves as a people, and Hobbs, who has high international credibility, anchors that perception in an unflashy Kiwi way.

===23 - Graham Henry {All Black Coach}


If the All Blacks win the World Cup next year, then coach Henry will probably jump to No 1 on the list. For now, he drops a few places, after a not particularly special year for the ABs, but the idea of dropping him altogether was never contemplated by the selection panel. Even though he fails for the first time to make the Power List first XV he's well-placed to come off the bench should those above him falter. An acting career beckons after the World Cup, following Henry's compelling appearance in TV ads, mooching moodily through the woods like Marlon Brando walking the dog.

===24 - Heather Simpson {Helen Clark's Mini-Me}


Not quite such a good year for H2, damaged by her pivotal role in the disastrous decision to fund Labour's pledge card with parliamentary money. She retains great authority, however, as Helen Clark's mini-me, with all the proxy decision-making power that entails. Her strictly enforced anonymity - her dealings with others are meticulously rationed - is part of her effectiveness. Panellist Jane Clifton likens her to a black hole in space - you know it can do terrible things and has mighty power, but you're not entirely sure what it's composed of, or even what it looks like. She still seems to be extremely well-liked in the Labour Party, and is greatly feared on the squash court.

===25 - Tiwana Tibble {Maori role model}


"It is you that will determine your own outcomes. It is you that will implement the plans to overcome the challenges you will face. Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui." Thus Tiwana Tibble to young Maori graduates at Massey University in May. Tibble, who graduated from Massey in 1987 with a Bachelor of Business Studies, after being head boy and dux of Feilding's Hato Paora College, is a role model for Maori business success. Though Ngati Porou by birth, in his nine years as CEO of the corporate arm of Ngati Whatua o Orakei he has built its equity from $30 million to $170 million through commercial investment, particularly in Auckland property development. Says Power List panellist Pauline Kingi: "He's highly respected, probably the senior most successful CEO in Maori economic development in this country, and very, very astute."

===26 - Sir John Anderson {Boardroom Heavyweight}


Our most eminent banker; a gold-standard member for any board of directors. Hardly had he quit ANZ at the end of last year than the government snapped him up to be chairman of TVNZ. Things have since calmed down a little there, notwithstanding the odd bit of phone rage. As long-time chairman of NZ Cricket, Anderson, 61, also exerts huge influence on sport - internationally, says former NZ Cricket CEO Christopher Doig, he's highly thought of for his "clear and incisive thinking and his ability to cut to the chase".

===27 - John Barnett {Film, TV Producer}


Two words justify John Barnett's place on the list: Shortland Street. Actually, add two more: Whale Rider. And another two: Sione's Wedding. And Outrageous Fortune. And NZ Idol. All films and TV programmes that heavily influence the way we see ourselves, and all produced by Barnett's production company South Pacific Pictures (SPP), whose annual output represents around 40 percent of all local TV production. "Turning dreams into drama" is SPP's boast, and most in the industry would say that that's just what "Barney" has been doing for the past 15 years. And if you want to know exactly what's wrong with TVNZ, no one knows better than he. Take it out of the politicial football arena, he says, and lease it.

===28 - Paul Callaghan {Scientist}===


Noticed a lot more science around lately? Science, for so long the poor cousin of arts, has lifted its profile dramatically in recent years, not least because of this man, who, as Massey University once modestly put it, "is well known for his ability to present ideas in an interesting manner". Callaghan has popularised science through his many media appearances, including weekly chats with Kim Hill on National Radio. He joined an elite club at the New Year when he was made a principal companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit - the equivalent of a knighthood.

===29 - Ian Wishart {Journalist}===


A one-man media machine, Wishart edits, publishes and mostly writes Investigate, a tiny magazine with a pervasive influence: it regularly breaks stories that reset the political agenda. David Parker was forced to stand down as Attorney-General after Investigate revealed irregularities in his business paperwork; and Wishart sparked an uproar when he published what he at least thought was a suggestive photograph of the Prime Minister's husband. The panel considered him more influential than most other journalists because he created his own vehicle and articulates his own views through it. His independence, however, might be his weak point. Fran O'Sullivan wrote in the New Zealand Herald: "Wishart needs to stop acting as a criminal prosecutor ... or get an editor who can save him from his own excesses."

===30 - Julie Christie {Reality TV Queen}


A boom year for the ebullient Christie: she sold her Touchdown company to Dutch media giant Eyeworks but stayed on as managing director. Christie, raved Eyeworks CEO Reinout Oerlemans, is a "tremendously creative TV professional ... with a well-known name in the international television community". And this year she put her mouth where her money is by fronting up as a panellist on her latest show, Dragons' Den. That's sort of like Peter Jackson starring in King Kong as well as directing it. This woman essentially runs reality TV in New Zealand; and thereby affects our reality.

===31 - John Shewan {Accountant}===


"John is powerful because the government listens to him," says Power List panellist Stephen Franks. "He is the one they always contact to ask about tax and tax policy and he's also the chair of Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, so if you're going to have a professional in that field it will be him. He's just turned around the government on its international tax strategy." Plus, says Franks, Shewan has been able to criticise governments of both hues for a long time without becoming unfashionable. Not much more to be said after that: he's in.

===32 - Garth McVicar {Justice Campaigner}===


The go-to guy when the talk turns to getting tough on crime. For a Hawke's Bay farmer with no previously known moral convictions, McVicar has built a national profile with impressive efficiency since founding the Sensible Sentencing Trust five years ago in protest at the recidivism of violent offenders. He and his team, including wife Anne, have firmly put longer sentences, victims' rights and less lenient prisons on the justice reform agenda. The Corrections Minister even took McVicar with him to Europe earlier this year. Not that the current government has accepted all the trust's ideas - but if National gets in next time, look out.

===33 - Peter Talley {Businessman}===


A very powerful South Islander. From modest beginnings in Motueka, the Talley empire - founded by Peter's father, Ivan Talijancich - has mushroomed into a food factory giant regarded as New Zealand's most efficient processor. Mid-year it took control of the meat company Affco. Rated one of the hard men of business, Talley keeps himself to himself.

===34 - Andrew West {Agresearch CEO}===


The perennially bestubbled West took our biggest Crown research institute by the scruff of the neck three years ago and galvanised it into a driving force in the pastoral economy, "transforming scientific discoveries into business outcomes" and spinning off commercial ventures at the cutting edge of biotechnology. 2006, says the 50-year-old West, has been an exceptional year: AgResearch created six joint-venture companies, doubled the income from licensing its intellectual property and successfully sold its Agvax subsidiary in the biggest CRI deal ever. It also launched 2020 Science, its ambitious vision for the next 14 years.

===35 - Stuart McCutcheon {Vice-Chancellor}===


Keen woodcarver, and probably the most powerful person in New Zealand education, McCutcheon, 52, is vice-chancellor of the University of Auckland - the status of which continues to grow. In the Times Higher Education Supplement's world ranking of universities, Auckland rose six places to 46th this year, which puts it in the top one percent. The humanities department came 25th in the most recent survey: yet McCutcheon is pressing ahead with plans to reduce academic staff in the English department.

===36 - Oscar Kightley {Samoan Wunderkind}===


Second youngest on the list (after Sam Morgan), 37-year-old Kightley bursts into the top 50 like a wedding guest kept too long at the door. It's a big month for this brilliant writer/actor/broadcaster: he has just been awarded $50,000 as an Arts Foundation Laureate for 2006. One of the creators of bro'Town, he also co-wrote and starred in hit comedy Sione's Wedding. Playwright, sports presenter, member of the Naked Samoans ... he has even done storylines for Shortland Street. Above all, Kightley and his mates have made Samoan culture accessible, real, human, funny, flawed and fantastically rich to non-Samoans. In two years bro'Town and Sione's Wedding have probably done more for healthy race relations in this country than a dozen acts of Parliament ever could.

===37 - Murray Deaker {Broadcaster}===


The Martin Devlins may come and go, but Deaker still rules supreme as sport's No 1 opinion-maker. One of our few larger-than-life broadcasters in the mould of Australia's Alan Jones: outrageous, feisty, big-hearted. He can change things in sport with what he says.

===38 - June Jackson {Urban Maori Advocate}===


Willie's mother, but much more than that. As longtime head of the Manukau Urban Maori Authority (MUMA), Jackson has her finger on the pulse of South Auckland - where, some would say, a new New Zealand is taking shape. She has, says Power List panellist Pauline Kingi, an "extensive pedigree as an urban advocate across Maoridom, very highly respected. In terms of the underdog and those unable to speak for themselves, and for young people, she's a strong advocate." On the New Zealand Parole Board for 20 years. A working kuia.

===39 - Ian Athfield {Architect}===


Architects generally don't get a good rap in the Power List, but Athfield can no longer be ignored. He has put his stamp on our public spaces in a way few others have. Think Christchurch's Jade Stadium and Wellington's city library for a start. His Canterbury Museum redesign fell foul of the Environment Court in April, but now he's involved in Auckland's waterfront development. President of the Institute of Architects this year, Athfield, 66, is the people's architect. He is, the Power List panel agreed, "the equivalent of Ralph Hotere in the architectural world: New Zealand would be a different place without him".

===40 - Kerry Prendergast {Mayor Of Wellington}===


No major civic moves by Prendergast this year, which is why she slips nine places, but she's still the most powerful big-city mayor in the country. "She gets her way," says panellist Jane Clifton. The drift away from Wellington of private-sector jobs has been more than balanced by the expansion of the public service; and finally, under Prendergast, the long-awaited inner-city bypass is being driven through.

===41 - Trelise Cooper {Fashion Designer}===


Thirty-sixth two years ago, Cooper breaks back in because of her continuing ability to appeal to a wide spectrum of Kiwi women, not least because her clothes play hot and cold with what an American fashion mag recently called a "bad-girl-slash-romantic edge". A niggling trademark dispute with fellow designer Tamsin Cooper has been the only cloud on her year. Sales are steadily climbing in the US, where Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon are among those with Cooperwear in their wardrobe.

===42 - Mark Solomon {Ngai Tahu Chairman}===


It's been a rocky couple of years for the country's wealthiest iwi, whose business growth has been seriously constrained by an internal power struggle. Solomon only clung on to his job by his own casting vote in April and Ngai Tahu have just posted their first balance-sheet loss, with fishing and tourism ventures both in the red. The tribe remain a giant player in the economy, however, and as the fulltime chair or kaiwhakahaere since 1998, Solomon earns his place, if only by surviving at the top.

===42 - John Wells {Bright Sparc}===


They laughed at SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand) when it was set up, saying it was a poor replacement for the Hillary Commission, but under chairman Wells's impassioned leadership it has gone from strength to strength. He must take much of the credit for winning more funding from the government (up almost 20 percent this year to nearly $90 million). Besides promoting sport, SPARC is heavily involved in healthy eating, fitness ("Push Play") and anti-drug campaigns. Wells, founder of merchant bank Bancorp and chair of a number of commercial boards, was part of the successful Rugby World Cup bid committee and is now a director of Rugby NZ 2011 Ltd. Stuff happens when he's around.

===44 - Peter Boshier {Principal Family Court Judge}===


The reforms just keep coming at the Family Court, and mainly because of this man's drive and vision. The law alone cannot take the emotional anguish out of separation and child-custody cases, but Boshier's moves are making the whole experience less harrowing for many people. Under his stewardship, children's rights have been enhanced; hearings have been opened up to the media; the threshold for legal aid eligibility has been lowered; and this month saw the launch of a programme designed to make hearings involving children less adversarial and more focused on the children's interests.

===45 - David Skilling {Thinktanker}===


The hot new force on the thinktank scene. Skilling has been running his New Zealand Institute for more than three years, but jumped into prominence this year with "Flight of the Kiwi", a discussion paper that basically says: "New Zealand, wake up: the good times are over." Skilling, whose CV includes Harvard, the OECD and two stints at Treasury, has attracted major players to the institute. The panel were divided over just how much influence he has, but concluded that he was out-influencing the Business Roundtable anyway. Maybe not next year, but he's the man for now, in the panel's view.

===46 - Phil O'Reilly {Business Advocate}===


Welded out of the old employers' and manufacturers' federations, Business New Zealand has become a powerful lobbying force under O'Reilly's energetic leadership. He is not publicity-shy. Representing more than 70,000 businesses - "everybody from the fish and chip shop in Dunedin right through to Fonterra", as O'Reilly likes to put it - Business New Zealand has more influence with this government than the Business Round_table now has. A builder of bridges also with the union movement (he speaks of "our good friends the CTU"), O'Reilly - while a firm believer in private enterprise - has put a less flinty face on the country's largest business-advocacy organisation.

===47 - Kaye Parker {Fund-Raiser}===


The business world knows Parker well: she's always knocking on their doors - and getting results. Parker, says Child Health Research Foundation board member Ed Mitchell, "is the most dynamic person I know. A small woman but a huge dynamo." When she took charge of Cure Kids (the foundation's public face) in 2000, it was struggling to raise $400,000 a year; its funding base is now $4 million plus. As a result, Cure Kids has been instrumental in saving the lives of New Zealand children, thanks to research advances in fields like leukaemia and inherited cardiac disease (for which New Zealand now has the world's first national screening programme).

===48 - Graeme Fraser {Health Research Head}===


Sociology professor Graeme Fraser, 67, is one of those public-spirited people no government would be without. As chair of the Health Research Council and a member of the Tertiary Education Commission, this Massey University stalwart has the ear of the Health and Education ministers. The Health Research Council disbursed $61 million to 56 applicants this year, for work in fields as diverse as infertility, perinatal injury and care of the aged.

===49 - Ralph Hotere {Artist}===


The man born Hone Papita Raukura Hotere in a remote part of Northland 75 years ago is our most significant living artist and the only artist to make the Power List this year or any other. "This man," says Creative New Zealand chair Christopher Doig, "absolutely embodies national identity." As much at home with a power tool as with a paintbrush, Hotere (art critic David Eggleton has written in the Listener) "is a sleeves-rolled-up artisan and a romantic in the full-blooded sense of the word".

===50 - Murray Sherwin {Biosecurity Gatekeeper}===


Seen any painted apple moths around this year? No; and nor should you. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) under director-general Sherwin saw to that last year, and so far this year our borders remain unbroached by biosecurity scares. In this area of the economy, no news is definitely good news; so Sherwin and MAF play a vital role in maintaining New Zealand's prosperity. "He's made a huge difference in terms of raising the profile of biosecurity," says Power List panellist Jacqueline Rowarth. "He's the guardian of our exports and is keeping us safe from foot and mouth disease."


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