Media Release: The Aotearoa Circle launches

New Zealand leaders stand together in shared responsibility for long-term investment in our natural resources.

A new initiative to halt and reverse the decline of New Zealand’s natural assets was launched in Auckland today.

The Aotearoa Circle is a unique and voluntary initiative bringing together senior leaders from across the public and private sectors. The founding members of The Aotearoa Circle share the fundamental belief that by contributing, benefits will flow to New Zealand, its environment, its people and our economy – and that prosperity comes through recognising the connection of people to nature and our responsibility to safeguard this for our mokopuna.

“This is the time to take a collective approach to reverse the state of our nature - trends in a number of critical areas are getting worse. It won’t be easy, but if we invest our time and resources in the right places, we have an opportunity to make a difference,” says Vicky Robertson, Secretary for the Environment and member of The Aotearoa Circle governance team.

“The responsibility for long-term protection and investment in our natural resources is shared. The Aotearoa Circle will put the spotlight on areas which might not be a key focus right now and bring the right people together to bring about the change needed,” she adds.

The Aotearoa Circle is led by an interim governance body of Environment Secretary, Vicky Robertson, sustainability champion, Sir Rob Fenwick and business leader Fraser Whineray (Mercury NZ Limited).  The trust also has the support of international sustainability leader Sir Jonathon Porritt of the Forum for the Future.

Founding member organisations include Air New Zealand, Auckland Airport,  Auckland Council, Department of Conservation, Designworks, EnviroNZ, Fonterra, JWT, Land Information NZ, Manaaki Whenua, Mercury NZ Limited, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Transport, New Zealand Post, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Sanford, Silver Fern Farms, Spark, Synlait, Te Puni Kokiri, Orion Energy, Vector, Villa Maria, Wakatu Incorporation and Westpac.

“I’m impressed with the positive response from numerous government and business leaders,” says Sir Rob Fenwick.


“It’s dawning on them that our economy and our civil society is dependent on healthy, functioning ecosystems. The next generation, and generations after that, will need more productive soils, more abundant fisheries and more clean freshwater. But, based on current trends, that’s not how it’s going to be. Many people in positions of influence, are really worried about this”.


“It’s especially a problem for New Zealand because we treasure our natural environment and we’re so reliant on a biological economy. Protection of our natural capital must become central to decision making, whether you’re running a primary sector business, a government department or a service industry”, he added.


Today’s launch event in Auckland announced the formation of a Sustainable Finance Forum, tasked with designing a roadmap to help NZ shift to a financial system that supports economic, social and environmental outcomes.

Co-chaired by the NZ Super Fund’s Chief Executive Matt Whineray and Westpac’s GM of Commercial, Corporate and Institutional, Karen Silk, the group will bring together key decision makers in the New Zealand finance industry to identify opportunities and make recommendations to help align New Zealand’s financial system with 21st century sustainability challenges.

“It is appropriate that the first workstream coming out of The Aotearoa Circle relates to the financial system – because it is the financial system that underpins and influences so many other parts of our society,” said Mr Whineray.

“Sustainable finance is ultimately about the long-term – bringing the long term consequences of financial practices into today’s investment and lending decisions, and making investment commitments where the value will be realised over the long term. This expenditure and business expertise is needed if we are to find lasting solutions to the very significant challenges facing our country – climate change, environmental degradation, poverty and homelessness. Banks, investors and insurers play a vital role in facilitating the flow of capital to the projects and innovations needed to achieve our sustainable development goals.”

The Aotearoa Circle focuses on ways to accelerate progress already underway and complement existing work by other like-minded organisations. It will help put the spotlight on the gaps and areas which might not be a focus right now, and create opportunities to make positive change in the use and protection of New Zealand’s natural resources. 

To learn more about The Aotearoa Circle visit: 


For more information about The Aotearoa Circle please contact: Alex Dudley, PPR  + 64 27 5399 555

NZ Super Fund media contact:  Catherine Etheredge,; + 64 9 366 4905.

Ryan Campbell