Wellington Scoop

Death of Sir John Anderson, renowned in banking and cricket worlds

Business and sports leader Sir John Anderson has died aged 73. Sir John died in Wellington on Tuesday following health complications. There will be a service at Old St Paul’s on Tuesday.

Report from RNZ
Sir John was one of New Zealand’s top bankers and was prominent in public service. Born in Wellington, he was educated at Christ’s College and Victoria University and worked as an accountant in Wellington and Melbourne.

He returned to New Zealand in 1972, moving into merchant banking at a subsidiary of the National Bank. He became the National Bank’s chief executive and a director in 1990 and retained the top position when the bank merged with the ANZ in 2003.

Sir John first become involved in the public sector 10 years earlier when the Labour government made him a director of the then-state-owned New Zealand Steel and Petrocorp. From 1989, he was chair of the advisory board of the debt management office of Treasury. He later chaired the schools consultative group and in 1994 headed the prime minister’s employment taskforce.

In 1995 he was knighted for his services to business management, banking and the community and was named the National Business Review’s New Zealander of the Year. In the same year, he received the inaugural Blake Medal for Leadership.

Sir John became the chairman of Television New Zealand in 2006, taking over after a three-way row between his predecessor Craig Boyce, then chief executive Ian Fraser, and the government.

At the end of 2007, the government appointed him chair of the troubled Capital and Coast District Health Board, charging him with improving its problems with allegations of bungled care, soaring deficits and low staff morale. A few months later he was appointed Commissioner of the Hawkes Bay District Health Board when its board was sacked by Health Minister David Cunliffe.

Sir John was also involved in sports administration and in 1995 became chairman of New Zealand Cricket.

He was also on the Board of T&G and chaired PGG Wrightson.

He’s survived by his wife Carol, three children and five grandchildren.

Media release from WCC
“Sir John was best known for his work in banking and the cricket world, but he was also a fierce proponent for Wellington,” says Wellington Mayor Justin Lester. “Many Wellington institutions have benefited from his leadership, vision and drive. He was a major figure in the Wellington business scene before his retirement and then a major figure in several public bodies after that. The city would be a different place today if it wasn’t for his involvement and expertise.”

Born in Wellington, Sir John studied at Victoria University before starting his working life at 17 as an office boy at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu in the city.

His banking career spanned more than 30 years following his role in creating Southpac in 1972. In 1987, Southpac merged with the National Bank of New Zealand, which Sir John led through successive mergers in the 1990s, culminating in his role in the creation of ANZ National Bank in 2003.

His contributions to business and to the New Zealand community have been recognised through numerous honours and awards. He was knighted in 1994 and in 2006 awarded the Wellington Gold Award for his business work in Wellington.

Three years earlier, the ANZ bank had purchased the National Bank, a $12 billion merger to form New Zealand’s largest company. Sir John headed the new organisation with his sole condition being that the head office stayed in Wellington.

He retired in 2005 and went on to be Chair of the Capital and Coast District Health Board, the Wellington Regional Strategy Committee and a member of the Wellington Regional Stadium Trust.

He was also a long-serving chair of the Basin Reserve Trust and helped develop the ground into a top-class international cricket venue.

“He will be sadly missed and our sympathies go to his family,” the Mayor says.

Councillor Simon Woolf, who holds the council’s sport portfolio, knew and worked with Sir John for more than 30 years. “He was an amazing role model and mentor to many. He had a lot of warmth and cared for people,” Cr Woolf says. “Everybody knows his work in banking, with government and troubleshooting, but it went much further than that. He was a very quiet man and didn’t seek the limelight. But he was an amazing man and his death is a great loss to Wellington and New Zealand.”

Media release from Stadium Trust
The Wellington Regional Stadium Trust today acknowledged its sadness at the death of former Trustee Sir John Anderson. Sir John served as a Stadium Trustee from 2006 to 2014.

“John will be remembered as an icon of New Zealand business. But he was always passionate about sport”, said Trust chair John Shewan. “He was tremendous contributor to the Stadium during his time as Trustee and he will be greatly missed”.

The Trust passes its condolences to John’s wife Carol, their children and grandchildren.