Hon Simon Power

Hon Simon Power

2011 Special Merit Award

The New Zealand Shareholders Association has never before made a Special Merit award. However this year we felt compelled to recognise The Honourable Simon Power’s extraordinary leadership and determination to effect change in the way the financial markets are administered.

Such a complete overhaul of the way in which NZ supervises its capital markets including financial advisers, the establishment of the FMA, and the total revision of the Securities Act, has made this parliamentary term the most important and positive for investors in the past forty years.

Simon himself said that preparation is 90% of the battle in politics. This attitude allowed him to hit the ground running, handing over 5 or 6 drafted bills to his stunned Justice officials in their first meeting. More importantly, his willingness to consult widely, including listening to the voices of ordinary people, and then translating their bad experiences into legislative reform mark him out as a special Minister.

Simon was educated in Palmerston North and Victoria University securing a BA in Political Science and an LLB. While there he became President of the Victoria University Law Society. He worked in law in Palmerston North and Auckland before entering Parliament as member for Rangitikei at the age of 28. It would seem that “ordinary” provincial background and the enthusiasm of youth served him well.

Simon admits to being frustrated by the negativity of the traditional opposition role, and so by the time it was his turn to lead he was ready with the ideas and the drive to turn them into a reality. Later he said “Once you are in office, you’ve got to do something. That is why having a plan matters.” For the Shareholders Association it was a refreshing change to have a politician who not only listened to the buy side of the market, but one who understood the need to involve all New Zealander’s in building future wealth.

Simon has always been scrupulous in following best practise governance. In so doing he demonstrated that he was determined to make a real difference based on achieving a balanced view, with buy in from every side of the spectrum. His success in using this approach has demonstrated an approach that many other politicians could do well to emulate.

Simon also demonstrated a remarkable work ethic throughout his tenure. His staff were both invigorated and exhausted trying to keep pace with his lead. In particular, Simon has an astonishing ability to absorb, filter and arrange large volumes of information. This allows him to ask searching and appropriate questions in order to arrive at pragmatic and workable solutions for the most difficult problems. Even in the last 4 weeks before parliament rose Simon announced fourteen new or changed regulation and legislation, indicating that he retained his drive and energy to the last. The workload must have seemed daunting at times, but he has always retained an unflappable and professional persona.

As Minister of Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Justice, as well as Leader of the House, Associate Minister of Finance and the Law Commission, Simon has been right in the thick of New Zealand’s legislative programme for the past 3 years. The New Zealand Shareholders Association salutes your unparalleled contribution to furthering the development of the New Zealand capital markets with this Special Merit award.