Back in 2016, I sat down in Auckland with a very good friend of mine, Rob Fenwick, to share our frustrations at the difficulty of getting New Zealanders to understand the critical importance of New Zealand’s natural wealth – its soils, forests, biodiversity, rivers, coastlines, oceans and so on.

We were both befuddled at the way in which New Zealand’s leaders, in both the public and the private sector, seemed to ignore this – at a time when a growing body of evidence demonstrated that New Zealand’s evocative ‘100% Pure’, environment-friendly marketing campaigns were dangerously close to misrepresentation. New Zealand’s natural wealth was then – and still is – in real trouble.

After just the right number of oysters (from Rob’s oyster farm at Te Matuku Bay on Waiheke Island), we came up with a plan to bring together CEOs in Government Departments and the private sector to get consensus around a very different model of wealth creation for New Zealand – with natural capital at its heart.

Two years later, in October 2018, with wonderful support from Penny Nelson and colleagues at the MfE, and with Rob’s apocryphal address book drawn on as never before, The Aotearoa Circle was launched in Auckland, with committed ministerial and business backing.

I mention all this as I feel very proud to have just been invited to become a Patron of the Aotearoa Circle, a role I will truly relish.

In just 18 months, 47 partners have been recruited, and a cracking work programme has been developed, including a world-leading Sustainable Finance Roadmap. The potential for the Circle to make a real and lasting difference is enormous.

Sadly, Rob is no longer with us to help deliver on that potential. He died in March last year, just a few days after I saw him for the last time. Like so many others, I still miss him enormously, as the kindest and wisest of friends, and the truest of champions for everything The Aotearoa Circle stands for today.