Press Release – Orchestra Wellington
Leading public lawyer Francis Cooke QC has been appointed the new Chair of Orchestra Wellington, and former Deputy Mayor of Wellington Ian McKinnon has also been appointed to the Board.
Serving as a co-opted Board member since January this year, Cooke’s involvement with the orchestra dates from much earlier. A barrister specialising in public and commercial law cases, Cooke provided both legal and strategic advice and assistance during Creative New Zealand’s review of the orchestral sector and helped to retain the orchestra’s position as a professional city orchestra when a new Creative New Zealand funding model sought to challenge it.
Taking over from long serving chairman Alick Shaw, Cooke’s chairmanship will provide continuity in terms of the underlying funding questions and a general knowledge of the Wellington arts scene.
“I am delighted to take on the role as Chair,” Cooke said. “The Orchestra has been particularly fortunate to have Alick Shaw as its Chair, and I look forward to maintaining the exceptional standards that he has set, as well as the continuing development of the Orchestra,” he said.
“To now have someone of Ian McKinnon’s status joining the Board will be particularly valuable,” Cooke said. “The fact that Ian McKinnon and Alick
Shaw, both former deputy Mayors of Wellington, have chosen to serve on the Board demonstrates the importance to Wellington of the Orchestra, and its key role in Wellington’s status as the arts centre of New Zealand.”
The Orchestra has an extensive season of concerts this year, with its first subscription concert on 24 May in Wellington Cathedral. “There is a very exciting program this year which I am sure will be well received by audiences.
The Orchestra has been playing particularly well in recent times, and with the greater certainty around its funding and support, standards can only continue to rise.”
Cooke graduated with an honours degree in law from Victoria University in 1989, and also has a Masters degree from Cambridge University. After periods with law firms in Wellington and London he joined the independent bar in 1994 and was made a Queen’s Counsel in 2004.
The other new board appointment, Ian McKinnon CNZM, QSO, has been highly active in local government as a Wellington City Councillor from 2004 and Deputy Mayor from 2007 to 2013. McKinnon has been a steadfast advocate for further investment in the Orchestra and the wider arts sector by Local Authorities.
McKinnon said he was honoured to serve on the Board of such a key player in the Wellington cultural scene. “It brings such enjoyment to so many people, as it has to my wife, Jenny, and me for many years. Thus it is a real pleasure to be placed in this position,” McKinnon said.
“Orchestra Wellington’s place in our city and region must not be underestimated: wonderful concerts appealing to all ages (including the little ones!), while also having a key role with the Opera and Ballet. If one doubts its importance, take the counterintuitive approach and imagine Wellington without Orchestra Wellington!
“Orchestra Wellington deserves our warm thanks and support for the role it plays (literally!).”
McKinnon received the QSO in 1991 for services to New Zealand in the UK.
In 2005 he became a Distinguished Alumnus of Auckland University and in 2013 he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to education and the community. His earlier career included leadership roles in illustrious schools ranging from King’s College in Auckland, Wanganui Collegiate, Scots College and Eton College in the UK.
Outgoing member Alick Shaw, who has chaired the Board of the Orchestra for much of the past 14 years, said he left with a feeling of confidence in the future of the orchestra and the quality of its Board and management. “I joined in 1999 and the orchestra’s improvement since then has been continuous,” Shaw said. “It’s a very different beast now, with a different future,” he said.
Retained Board members are Caroline Heath, Landa van den Berg, Saki Hannah, Murray Newman and Christopher Clark.