.Wellington’s great and good (plus some others) gathered in the Wellington Club on Tuesday to say farewell to Barrie Saunders, an icon in the capital’s industry, whose extraordinary career extending over more than 45 years included stints as editor of the NBR, adviser to onetime Labour leader Bill Rowling, PR for the NZ Manufacturers Federation, North American director for the NZ Meat Board, and then for the last 20 years one of the senior partners in the Saunders Unsworth firm. Bill English paid tribute to Saunders’ skills, with the caveat he hoped never to hear again a Saunders trademark lecture on “dredging.” Saunders in recent years has been lobbying Govts on behalf of NZ port companies.
I was one of those (clearly an other) in attendance. Some excellent speeches from Barrie, his business partner Mark and Bill English. I especially enjoyed how their business has thrives for 21 years ro so and they’ve never had a vision statement, a mission (except to make money), a business plan and they have even managed to go up to five years at a trot without a board meeting!
The influence of Barrie Saunders on public policy has been profound – from his long ago days in Parliament, to his editorship of NBR, and through Saunders Unsworth.
Barrie is one of the politest, most considered people you can meet. He doesn’t mind disagreement – in fact he enjoys a good debate on policy. His success is not being a cunning flashy lobbyist. It is the strength of his arguments and knowledge of the facts.
I’ve enjoyed many a discussion with Barrie over the years on policy and politics. But I can also reveal another good side to him – as a travel advisor. Barrie has travelled to many of the places I have, such as the Galapagos – so was a great source of advice on what to see there. When I did my big US road trip a couple of years ago, he could recall his days travelling Route 66, and again a great source of advice.
Wellington public policy’s loss, will be golf’s gain.