Dr Michael Bassett

Dr Michael Bassett

Roderick Deane: His Life & Times

Penguin Group (NZ), 2006
(Written with Judith Bassett)

Sir Roderick Deane is one of the most important figures in recent New Zealand economic and political history. The Herald once called him “the godfather of New Zealand commerce”. In the past twenty years probably only Roger Douglas, with whom Deane worked closely, has played a bigger role in shaping the New Zealand economy. First as Chief Economist, and then as Deputy-Governor of the Reserve Bank, Deane had to deal with Robert Muldoon’s economic management between 1976 and 1984, and he handled the Reserve Bank’s difficulties surrounding the foreign exchange crisis in June and July 1984 leading to a 20% devaluation of the currency. Deane was then the chief proponent of floating the New Zealand dollar on the world market, and he flew to London to brief Prime Minister Lange in February 1985 on the need for a decision. Deane oversaw the reorganisation of the public service and the formation of state-owned enterprises that came into force on 1 April 1987. For five years he was CEO of the largest of them, Electricorp, and then in 1992 he moved to be CEO of the recently privatised Telecom New Zealand. He is soon to surrender his chairmanship of Telecom after an association of fourteen years, but he still chairs Fletcher Building, and sits on the Australian board of Woolworths. He chaired Te Papa Tongarewa: the Museum of New Zealand from 2000 to 2006. He is involved with many other organisations, and has also been Professor of Economics at his alma mater, Victoria University of Wellington.

Roderick Deane and his wife Gillian have taken a life-long interest in the work of the IHC, and they are major patrons of the arts.

The book by Michael and Judith Bassett draws on Deane’s sixty boxes of personal papers, and many interviews with the Deane, their colleagues, their political acquaintances, and their critics.