Tribute to Sir Rob Fenwick

By Rachel Brown

Sir Rob Fenwick
Another mighty totara has fallen. In the space of just a few days, two tall, proud and determined leaders, Jeanette Fitzsimons and Sir Rob Fenwick, have left us with a legacy to continue their good work to protect our natural world.

Like Jeanette, Sir Rob was a friend and ally to many of us in the Sustainable Business Network and to people throughout Aotearoa working on projects to restore and regenerate our precious land and waters.

I first met Rob in the late 1990’s (long before he was knighted for his conservation and environmental work and became Sir Rob) when he was actively running Living Earth, the organic composting service he helped to start. He was a part of the Auckland Environmental Business Network at the time and a big advocate for the Blue Green movement putting conservation at the centre of business practice.

He went on to play establishment roles in the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development and, recently, the Aotearoa Circle. He sat on a large number of boards including various roles connected to Antarctica. He was also  passionate about the Predator-Free NZ movement.

More recently Rob and his wife, Jennie, set up Te Matuku Oysters, an oyster farm off the coast of Waiheke using the best sustainable practices.

Environmentalism was a big part of Rob’s family history. It must have been in his genes as both his grandfather and great grandfather were recognised for their conservation work.

Rob’s last article, an eloquent and inspirational call to action published a few weeks ago, included a heartfelt parting message to all of us.

“For them, like me, like so much of New Zealand’s biodiversity, time is running out. I can tell you in plain English that I am dying. And although the environment might speak its own language, its cries cannot be misunderstood. We know what is happening, we know what we must do – now, we must simply do it.’

I couldn’t agree with you more Rob.


Rachel and the whole SBN team

Photo: Sir Rob Fenwick on Waiheke Island. Supplied by Matuku Oysters.