Dame Patsy Reddy, 63, the successor to Governor General Sir Jerry Matapaere, has maintained a low profile position during her career with high profile positions (being no. 48 on the LawFuel Power List). She has become very wealthy through investments in Active Equities and is regarded as a tough, intelligent operator who prefers a low key presence, despite her now very public profile.
You may not have known some of the facts about Dame Patsy – here are 16 you may not have known:
1. She left home at 27, allegedly to escape parental control, to study at Victoria University where she graduated with a top degree and became a junior law lecturer.
2. “Patsy” is short for Patricia.
3. She became a partner at Watts & Patterson (now Minter Ellison Rudd Watts) within
18 months of joining the firm.
4. She was the first woman partner at Watt & Patterson.
5. She was formerly married to tax barrister and former Russell McVeagh partner Dr Geoff Harley (pictured), who she met at Victoria University and who she worked with when both were at Watts & Patterson. (She received the Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2014).
6. She became legal counsel for Brierley Investments Ltd for a decade starting in the late 1980s after working for BIL part time for some time, becoming a close confidant and adviser to BIL CEO Paul Collins (now also knighted) who was impressed with her abilities and hired her.
7. She handled a large number of major commercial transactions while working for BIL, cementing her position as one of the country’s foremost commercial lawyers and one of the most powerful in-house lawyers in the country.
8. She has made a substantial fortune from Active Equities, which as set up by Paul Collins and former BIL director Bruce Hancox as a private, high-return equity investor. The company initially raised $40 million from investors including Sir Ron Trotter, Jenny Gibbs, Craig Heatley and others.
9. She has held directorships in some of the biggest and highest profile companies in New Zealand including Air New Zealand, Telecom, NZ Post, Sky City Entertainment and others, along with major positions in government agencies such as her current position as Deputy Chair of the NZ Transport Agency.
10. She is an arts patron and involved with a variety of arts and cultural causes including the NZ Festival of the Arts, Adam Art Gallery, NZSO Foundation and followed her husband Sir David Gascoigne (pictured below), former Judicial Conduct Commissioner and law firm partner, as chair of the New Zealand Film Commission for almost seven years, from 2009.
11. She has been the Chief Crown Negotiator for Treaty Settlements in the Bay of Plenty region.
12. She has faced claims of insider trading as a result of her interest in Active Equities, including claims involving a company chaired by her husband that held shares in Sky City Entertainment. The Securities Commission found no substance in the claims although the Shareholders’ Association question her continued role in Active Equities, “a mini-BIL”.
13. Another controversy erupted following the $36 million sale to Telecom by Active Equities of mobile phone company TeamTalk while she was a Telecom director. Although highly uncomfortable with the allegations she has never been charged with any offence in such areas and was disinvolved at board level from the TeamTalk purchase by Telecom.
14. She is regarded by many as a tough, financially astute and highly intelligent operator in the commercial and legal arenas.
15. A resident in Mount Victoria, Wellington, she has a home behind the luxury Wharekauhau Lodge in the Wairarapa, owned by American billionaire Jim Foley, and next door to the extensive domain purchased by Avatar director James Cameron.
16. She was heavily involved in the NZTA’s attempts to build a flyover at Wellington’s basin reserve, meeting the mayor to express the Agency’s concerns over the opposition to the proposed bridge.
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