High Altitude

John Spencer - Governance and Changing Fortunes at Tainui

May 24, 2018


Distinguished corporate director and accountant who made his way from the Chartered Accounting office to industry, to retail and fast-moving consumer goods, working for major New Zealand corporates as a general manager finance and planning before taking the helm as chief executive of one of the country’s two largest dairy concerns and seeing that organization merge as a major component of the country’s dominant dairy business and largest export earner Fontera. For the past 17 years he has been an active corporate director and respected chair filling senior governance roles in both private and state sectors. The later has included roles such as chair of KiwiRail – the state national railway operation.

He has been a forceful voice in his profession and held various roles in the Institute of Chartered Accountants while also serving on a Government taskforce for economic development. For his long and valuable service to business and the profession he has been honored by a tertiary institution, his fellow accountants and his country being recognised as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011.

Perhaps his most demanding role – one that has exercised all his talents both personal and technical – was his decision to assume the chair of one of the country’s largest iwi groupings, Tainui. The first tribal settlor with Government under the Waitangi process Tainui was in total disarray when he took the chair. A lack of real controls and processes had seen a large part of the financial settlement wealth eroded or squandered on poor investment decisions. He bravely took up a task many thought impossible and set about managing and restoring the fortunes of the Waikato tribal iwi.

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