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 2018
Carpet Court Dunedin
Ross & Bev Middlemass
Harvie Green Wyatt
Markhams Clarke Craw
SF Waller Family Trust
Brenda Allum (Sports Medicine New Zealand)
Ron Anderson (Arrow International)
Paula & Peter Anstey
Mary Arnesen, Shirley Laney & Monica Urquhart
Judy Bevin (J. Bevin Ltd)
Hudson Biggs (Accounting & Finance)
Adam Binns (Adam Binns Commercial Ltd)
Michael Bird (Store Safe Ltd)
Jono Bredin (Keogh McCormack)
John & Jacqui Brenssell (Paper Plus Dunedin)
Barbara Bridger (Otago Community Trust)
Hamish Caithness (Oteha Valley Holdings Ltd)
Dave Callon (ShareNZ)
Andy Campbell (Knox & Anderson)
Andrew Carmody (
Grant Chirnside (Southern Realty)
Wyn & Dorothy Chirnside (The Werribee Trust)
Garry Clarke (Arbi Monograms)
Steve Cogger (Black Rock Consulting Ltd)
Keith Cooper (Miller Creative Group)
Dr Norman and Mrs Barbara Fitzgerald (NW Fitzgerald Family Trust)
David Ford (Aotea Electric Group)
John Freeland (Aon New Zealand)
Adam Gain (Metro Realty)
Donna Gale (NZI)
Ross Gamble (Roslyn Storage)
Steve & Tricia Gillies (Gillies Financial)
Ray Grubb (Morgan GR Tourism)
Mark Hammer (ASB Commercial)
Trevor Hastie (International Freight Logistics)
Bill Haydon (Roman Catholic Diocese of Dunedin)
Sharon Hyndman (Metro Realty)
Dr Rod Keillor (Keillor Ophthalmology)
Margot Koele (Webb Farry Lawyers)
Yash Khan (Octagon Dental Suite)
Adam La Hood (Cook Brothers Construction)
Lynn King (Crombie Lockwood)
Emily Lam (Otago Orthodontics)
Martyn Ballantyne and John Larsen (Suits on Wall Street)
Neil & Jamie Lyons (Signature Property Ltd)
Iain Mackay (Miller Creative Group)
Craig McGregor (39 Per Cent Ltd)
Stuart McLauchlan (GS McLauchlan & Co)
Rod McMeeken (The Brothers Hotel)
Mr Will McMillan (McMillan Medical Specialists)
Dave McPhedran (YBT: Accounting)
Trevor Millar (Cowell’s Pavlova)
David Miller (Miller & Co Contracting)
Michael Milne (Craigs Investment Partners)
Shelagh Murray (Alumni Office, University of Otago)
Duncan & Carolyn Northover (The Strictly Coffee Company)
Simon Parker (Parker Warburton Team Architecture)
Alan & Denise Preston (Bedpost Dunedin)
Sarah Ramsay (Immersion Ventures)
Richard Roberts (Dunedin Airport)
Sergio Salis (London Street Specialists)
Assoc Prof Michael Schultz (Gastroenterology Otago Ltd)
Jenny Soper (ANZ Private)
Carl Spruyt (Boost Media Ltd)
Justin & Eterei Stonelake ( Stonelake Foundation)
Dr Paul Templer (Sandman Anaesthetic Services)
Nigel Thrush (Specsavers Dunedin)
Michael Turner (Polson Higgs)
Sherman Weatherall (Agility Logistics)
Tom West (Tom West Risk Advisors)
John White (Telfer Electrical Otago Ltd)
Ant & Chris Wither (Awhirk Farms)
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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!