Membership of Club Otago, which is open to anyone, opens the way to attend a series of lunches through the year where entertaining and topical speakers are brought before our supporters.
Four lunches are held each year and these are utilised as both a high-calibre and enjoyable two-hour gathering, and an ideal hosting opportunity where business folk bring their clients and staff. Speakers attracted to Club Otago to date have covered all manner of sporting issues, business, entrepreneurship, science communication, media matters, national security and drug abuse.
From small beginnings – there were just 43 members when All Black coach Steve Hansen launched Club Otago in April 2012 – there are now more than 100 subscribing members with the number increasing after each event as guests of existing members join in their own right. While there is something different about each event, the regular business card and raffle draws along with the heads and tails remain popular.
Club Otago Members
Ross & Bev Middlemass
Harvie Green Wyatt
Adam Binns (Adam Binns Commercial Ltd)
Adam La Hood, Blair McGill (Cook Brothers Construction)
Andrew Carmody (helloworld Travel Dunedin)
Andy Campbell & Ian Anderson (Knox & Anderson)
Ant & Chris Wither (Awhirk Farms)
Bill Haydon (Roman Catholic Diocese of Dunedin)
Carl Spruyt (Iklutu Ltd)
Darryn Wilkie (Otago Properties 2018 Ltd)
Dave Callon (ShareNZ)
Dave McPhedran (YBT: Accounting)
David Ford (Aotea Electric)
Dr Michael Schultz (Gastroenterology Otago Ltd)
Dr Norman & Mrs Barbara Fitzgerald
Dr Paul Templer (Sandman Anaesthesia Services)
Dr Rod Keillor (Marinoto Clinic)
Hamish Caithness (Oteha Valley Holdings)
Hudson Biggs (Accounting & Finance Ltd)
Ian Timperley (ProSouth IT)
Jenepher Glover (NZ RSA Trust)
Jenny Soper (ANZ Private)
John & Jacqui Brenssell (Paper Plus Dunedin)
John Freeland (Aon New Zealand)
John White (Telfer Electrical Otago Ltd)
Jono Bredin (PKF Bredin McCormack Rewcastle)
Judy Bevin (J Bevin Ltd)
Justin & Eterei Stonelake (Stonelake Foundation)
Jackson Miller (Polson Higgs)
Malcom Farry (Farry Riddell Consultancy)
Margot Koele (Webb Farry Lawyers)
Martyn Ballantyne, John Larsen (Suits on Wall Street)
Mary Arnesen, Shirley Laney, Monica Urquhart
Michael Milne (Craigs Investment Partners)
Mr Will McMillan (McMillan Medical Specialists)
Neil & Jamie Lyons (Signature Property Ltd)
Nigel Thrush (SpecSavers Dunedin)
Octagon Dental Suite (Yash Khan)
Otago Orthodontics (Emily Lam)
Peter & Paula Anstey
Peter Cox (Harraways)
Ray Grubb (Morgan GR Tourism Management)
Robert & Jill Reid
Ross Gamble (Roslyn Storage)
Sergio Salis (London Street Specialists)
Sharon Hyndman (BayleysMetro)
Simon Parker (Parker Warburton Team Architecture)
Steve & Tricia Gillies (Gillies Financial)
Steve Cogger (Black Rock Consulting)
Stuart McLauchlan (GS McLauchlan & Co)
Tom West (Tom West Risk Advisors Ltd)
Trevor Hastie (International Freight Logistics)
Our first guest was CEO of the New Zealand Olympic Committee Kereyn Smith. Kereyn outlined the progress of New Zealand athletes as they honed in on the 2020 Olympics and the likelihood of success of what was shaping as a highly-competitive team. We were also privy to some of the inner machination of the International Olympic Committee. Little were we to know that within a fortnight the Covid-19 pandemic would surge, forcing New Zealand into lockdown and the postponement of the Tokyo Games to July 2021.
Otago and New Zealand cricketing icon Warren Lees was our first guest in 2019. Rather than tell stories of days past, Warren regaled the audience with a precis of his life, growing up as a lad in South Dunedin with something of a chip on his shoulder to a combative player at test and one-day international level and then forging a career as one of the game’s finest coaches on the world stage with both the New Zealand men’s and women’s teams.
We created history by welcoming a speaker back for the second time when Prof Robert Patman presented again in June – in light of the Christchurch mosque killings and the rise of Far-right political platforms around the globe.
The amazing Billy Graham enthused us in September with his message of daring ‘to just do it’ backed by a lifetime of experience and dreaming big. Billy fought his way out of a desperate childhood to become a four-times New Zealand boxing champion, the owner of a number of butcher’s shops and a successful businessman and entrepreneur. His biggest legacy though is his work for disadvantaged young people through the Billy Graham Youth Foundation. Billy’s presentation was vibrant, serious, funny and inspiring all in one.
The year was rounded out superbly by the highly energetic Sir Graham Lowe who enthused our members with tales of his times as a rugby league coach and team owner, his work with the Kick for the Seagulls programme which offers at risk 12 to 19-year-olds a second chance at learning literacy and numeracy skills, and the success of his 12 Dynamic Principles programme which has been adopted by many of the country’s highest profile companies.
The 2018 programme began with a thought-provoking address by ex-New Zealand Rugby chief executive David Moffett. David, who had also led the Welsh Rugby Union and the Australian Rugby League, questioned where both codes were heading, the motives of some of the most influential administrators and just what the future held as professionalism saw some of the lower levels (club rugby especially) being quickly eroded.
All Black legend Buck Shelford was with us on the eve of the French test in the city in June, sharing his memories of the great battles with Les Bleus during his times as a player and captain. Naturally the infamous Battle of Nantes in 1986 could not go unmentioned, Shelford’s own health in serious jeopardy during that encounter.
Wildlife cameraman extraordinaire Max Quinn gave an amazing presentation in September with the pictorial evidence of just some of the hundreds of places he has visited leaving the audience spellbound. Max has criss-crossed the globe for 50 years and even though he is now officially retired, more travel and a number of books are planned.
And Lesley Elliott, co-founder of the Sophie Elliott Foundation, joined us at the final lunch of the year in November where she bravely outlined the terrific progress made in raising the awareness of violence prevention through education and empowerment in the 10 years since Sophie’s murder. The Loves Me Not programme is now nationally accepted into secondary schools and is having a significant impact on violence awareness.
Our first speaker in 2017 Prof Robert Patman, from the University of Otago’s Department of Politics, demystified the three main political questions of the day – Brexit, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and his early months in office, and the threat, or otherwise, of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Robert’s ability to clarify the complexity of such machination in lay terms and with great humour was greatly appreciated, and we left the lunch much better-informed than we were beforehand.
Mid-year we celebrated one of Otago rugby’s great records – that of its success against the touring British & Irish Lions. Otago teams had beaten the Lions in 1950, 1959, 1966 and 1993 and while no former players from the 1950 side were present (we were able to pay tribute to the captain that day, the oldest living All Black Ron Elvidge), representatives from 1959, ’66 and ’93 teams were on hand to receive acclamation from the crowd of 350. The lunch was held on the day the Highlanders began their own tradition by beating the 2017 Lions’ tourists.
We were joined by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Bill English, in early-August as the 2017 general election campaign moved into full swing. The Prime Minister was in excellent humour, self-effacing and humble, and he answered every question from the MC and guests with dignity and a wit we don’t normally see in the sound-bites on television.
The final lunch for the year featured Dunedin businessman and entrepreneur Ian Taylor, who took us through the amazing story that is Animation Research Ltd … from its early struggles to the global entity it is now. Ian was also in full flight in promoting architect Damien van Brandenburg’s vision for the development of the Otago Harbour Basin, the large-scale models of which were on hand for our audience to view.
New Zealand Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy was our first guest in 2016. The former world squash queen and with a history of significant sporting administration, Dame Susan’s appointment to her new role took many by surprise but her address left us in no doubt she was well-qualified and very much up for the responsibilities and scrutiny she would undoubtedly face. She challenged us all to take stock of our sometimes subconsciously embedded views on ethnicity.
Peter FitzSimons, world renowned and best-selling author, raconteur and currently on campaigns against processed sugar in diets and to lift the awareness of the dangers of concussion and head injuries in contact sport, enthralled the biggest Club Otago crowd (350) to date in July. Peter talked about his playing career (he was a Wallaby in the early 1990s and one of the first to play rugby professionally in France), his writing, his horror about what he labelled a blithe attitude to head knocks, and about his admiration for New Zealand. Another crusade of his is to have Australia become a republic. ‘Fascinating’ would be an understatement when describing his address and him as a man.
Next up was the recently-retired Director-General of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) David Howman. David is now back in New Zealand after 13 years in the role based in Montreal, Canada and his presentation, complete with the ‘whizzinator’ (a contraption through which athletes could pass clean urine when being tested) and the attachable jock-strap complete with penis (in five sizes and five colours!), again for passing clean urine, was both enlightening and horrifying. WADA, David told us, is winning some battles against the drugs cheats but may not win the war.
And our final speaker for the year was a classic ‘local boy made good’ story with Dean Hall, founder of Rocketwerkz, a gaming design company based in Dunedin, entertaining us a fine style. Dean outlined his earlier career in the New Zealand Army and Air Force, his global success with Day Z, a game which has recorded almost $150 million in sales and his vision for the industry. His view is that it could easily become a billion-dollar business from Dunedin alone. His was the perfect note on which to end another successful Club Otago season.
Anticipation was high as former Tour de France cyclist Tyler Hamilton walked to the stage as the first Club Otago speaker in 2015. A former team mate of the disgraced Lance Armstrong and a rider himself twice-convicted of drug abuse, Hamilton was a humble and modest speaker who told his story in an enlightening fashion. He noted the day he took the ‘little red egg’ (a testosterone tablet) as the time his slide into the dark underworld of the sport began. Tyler’s was a fascinating and sobering address.
After 20 years of trying, the Highlanders took the Super Rugby Crown in 2015 and in August we hosted coach Jamie Joseph. The former All Black enforcer told us the behind-the-scenes planning of how the season was the culmination of a long campaign, spread over several seasons, and how he and the players were reveling in the joy the championship had given the region.
The year’s final guest was New Zealand’s Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae who was joined by Lady Janine. Sir Jerry, the former head of the New Zealand Defence Force, talked about his time in the military, his humanitarian work and his role as the Queen’s representative. Due to end his five-year term in late-2016, we were privileged to have him with us.
The year’s first speaker was the new Dunedin Venues chief executive Terry Davies who had only been in the job a week. Terry gave an overview of his ambitions, which included lifting the performance of the Forsyth Barr Stadium. On that point, much contentious in the city, he outlined his plans and left members with hopes high that he would deliver on an enthusiastic first-up appearance before the home faithful.
Acclaimed UK-based science communicator James Piercy was our second guest of honour in 2014. James was in the city for the internationally-renowned New Zealand International Festival of Science and his address was both emotional and inspirational. James was severely injured in a car crash in Norwich, England at the end of January 2011 – his wife Kate was killed and his three children – then aged 5, 10 and 12 – were all injured. He suffered a serious brain injury from which he still is (and probably always will be) recovering. After spending a week in an induced coma and a further six weeks in hospital, James was released and immediately launched into researching his injuries and making what has been described by specialists as phenomenal early recovery.
The 2015 Cricket World Cup is in excellent hands. That was the over-riding impression Club Otago members and their guests took away from the September lunch where the guest speaker was Therese Walsh, Head of New Zealand ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Acknowledged as the ‘mega woman of New Zealand sporting events’ Therese came to the role after her outstanding work as Chief Operating Officer for RWC 2011, the company which delivered the hugely successful Rugby World Cup to New Zealand three years ago. Therese spoke about the work behind the successful bid to co-host cricket’s showpiece alongside Australia, the logistical difficulties of moving 14 teams around both countries and the huge global interest in the sport with television viewers in 240 countries set to make it one of the most-watched events ever.
It was most topical that Howard Broad, the Deputy Chief Executive: Security & Intelligence in the New Zealand Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet, was the year’s final Club Otago guest speaker. With cyber security, global terrorism, new security laws in this country, the threat of Ebolo and the ‘dirty politics’ leading into September’s general election all matters of significant interest, Howard was able to give an insight into the government’s measures to ensure the safety of New Zealanders here and when travelling overseas. As the former Police Commissioner and now in his various roles with the National Assessments, Intelligence and Cyber Policy, Howard’s knowledge of the inner workings was fascinating. Especially chilling was the genuine threat of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) to all countries.
The year’s first lunch saw a double-act with John Leslie and Dean Bell, the foundation captains of the Highlanders rugby union and Warriors rugby league franchises respectively at the podium. They were brought together as Dunedin celebrated a unique rugby union/rugby league doubleheader in the city and gave members and their guests an insight into the similarities and differences between the codes, both on and off the field.
Businessman, writer and former politician Sir Bob Jones entertained in May with his theories on the current business world, spending in the military and his views on what might unfold in the 2014 New Zealand general election.
In August, New Zealand men’s cricket coach Mike Hesson was our guest speaker. At that stage, Mike was not long in the role but had already rattled the cage by dropping his team’s captain and setting a new strategy for success. He was able to give us a rare insight into the machination of a major sporting administration and outline his vision for success in the seasons ahead.
Our inaugural Club Otago speaker in April of 2012 was All Black coach and former local lad Steve Hansen who gave us an insight into the work completed by the coaching staff and team management from the Rugby World Club disappointment of 2007 to the high of winning the title. As an assistant coach to Graham Henry, we never knew much about Hansen. His presence at the first-ever Club Otago lunch changed that markedly.
Evergreen broadcaster Keith Quinn joined us in July. Keith’s was a fascinating account of his life from growing up in a coal mining family in the King Country (he being one of five sons raised by a mother widowed young in life) and his experiences in television over a 50-year career – the stories he has covered, the places he has visited and the people he has met.
Former doctor and now highly successful businessman David Kirk was with us in September, David reminiscing about his time as a medical student in Dunedin and his years with the Otago rugby team before moving on to outlining some of the positive (and negative) realities of the 21st century business world.
And Sir Peter Leitch (the ‘Mad Butcher’) completed the year’s line-up. Peter was in fine form. Nothing further needed!