Four Power Business Lawyers – Changing the Courtroom for the Boardroom

Numerous power lawyers inhabit the country’s boardrooms, including some who have also inhabited the higher reaches of the Power List’s rankings.

We have purged the list of those who operate purely in a business environment, other than some who remain as key influencers and remain involved in the profession (like Pip Greenwood and Cathy Quinn) but those lawyers who have transcended the law into the boardrooms still warrant recognition as influential, power lawyers with considerable influence in the business and wider community.

Among the legal business leaders:

The Westpac Lawyers

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If any bank is a Power Lawyer bank it is Westpac. Apart from our Power List member Mark Weenink, the outgoing CEO is former Wellington staff solicitor David McLean who lead the bank since 2014, leaving the Bank this year.

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Simon Power

Interim CEO at Westpac is former Palmerston North lawyer and National Party MP Simon Power – an appropriate surname you may think – who will head Westpac until a new CEO is announced.

McLean’s tenure as CEO has equalled that of former Westpac CEO Harry Price.

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Mark Verbiest

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Heavyweight company director Verbiest, formerly of Simpson Grierson, has continued to land major directorships.

Handling legal work for Brierleys, BP, NZ Treasury and the Rugby Union, he was shoulder-tapped by then Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung to join the company as group general counsel, leaving him on his current successful course with a roster of high profile directorships including chairing Summerset Group, Meridian Energy and Freightways Group as well as serving on the board of the ANZ Bank.

Permanently residing in Wanaka, he has previously chaired Spark, Transpower NZ and Willis Bond Capital and has been a director of a number of companies and entities including the inaugural board of the Financial Markets Authority and the advisory board to the Treasury.

Whaimutu Dewes

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Whai’  Dewes, of Ngāti Porou and Ngati Rangitihi descent, holds a powerful postition among a number of key organisations, having held senior positions with a range of companies including Fletcher Challenge and directorships at Housing New Zealand, Television New Zealand, Māori Television, and Ngāti Porou Holding Company.

Chairman of Sealord,  he was appointed to the board of Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd and he has served in a number of seafood-related roles including the first 10 years on the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission and as is a former chair of Moana New Zealand. He also plays a central role in a number of other Maori groups and organisations including Ngati Porou Forestry and Ngati Porous Seafoods.

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Mark Binns

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Former Simpson Grierson partner Mark Binns was CEO of Meridian Energy from 2012 to 2017, during which he prepared the company for New Zealand’s largest IPO.  He worked for Fletcher Building and its predecessor Fletcher Challenge for 22 years handling major operations of the group.

He is a director of Crown Infrastructure Partners in 2018 and then chair in March 2020 and has been closely involved in many of New Zealand’s largest infrastructure projects, including the Wiri Prison public-private partnership, Waterview Connection, Eden Park, SKYCITY, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the Manapōuri tunnel.

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