W.A.Y.N.C.R? Number 11, Grant Robertson

My latest Where Are You Now, Campus Radical? Profile concerns Grant Robertson.

Many will remember Grant Robertson from Otago University in the early ’90s, where he studied political science.

His career in politics, (student and real world) has encompassed a literal alphabet soup of mainly left leaning organisations.

In 1992, Robertson was on the Otago University Students Association executive and in 1993 became OUSA president.

The Aotearoa Youth Network was formed that year by Radical Society Maoists from Auckland University. AYN united Maoist, anarchist and socialist leaning students from most universities against student fees and for other leftist causes.

Grant Robertson was apparently on good terms with some Otago AYNers and contributed occasionally to AYN’s newsletter.

In 1994 AYN No 10 carried an article signed by Otago students, Grant R, Nathan M, Anita J on the campaign to save compulsory student association membership.

In May 1994, Robertson ran a session on public speaking at an AYN run activists workshop in Dunedin. Peacenik Warren Thomson, well known Dunedin stirrer Alan Cumming and commentator Chris Trotter also ran sessions.

In 1995, Robertson moved to Wellington to become vice president of the New Zealand University Students Association. He was also a supporter of the Next Step Democracy Movement, which unsuccessfully tried to raise signatures to force referenda on increasing health and education spending and other socialist measures. NSDM was supported by AYN and other allied groups.

In 1996 Robertson was co-president of NZUSA with ex Waikato president and lesbian activist Alayna Ashby.

At NZUSA, Robertson helped establish a Queer Project Worker position that led to the establishment of the UniQ support groups for glbt students on campuses around the country.

Robertson was also involved in launching the Public Tertiary Education Coalition.
Unsurprisingly PTEC‘s main purpose was to lobby the government for more “resources” for the state education system.

Next up, Robertson joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He worked for MFAT in Wellington which included managing New Zealand’s overseas aid programme to Samoa, then spent 2.5 years in New York at the UN.

Robertson worked at the UN as a member of the Executive Board of the UN Development Programme and UN Population Fund. This included a period as vice-President of the Board representing donor nations.

By 2001, Robertson was back in NZ working as a senior advisor (or minder as some suggested at the time) to then broadcasting minister, Marian Hobbs.

Robertson moved from Hobbs’ office to work for PM Helen Clark, managing coalition arrangements and advising the PM on foreign affairs, sustainable development, the environment and education.

Robertson’s affiliation to Labour was not just professional. In 2003 he was chair of the LP‘s Harbour branch in Wellington Central.

In December 2005, Robertson was appointed to the board of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation.

His decision to join the NZAF board was “motivated by his work on HIV at the UN, increasing rates of HIV infections in New Zealand over the last few years, and personal contact with those affected by the virus.”

In June this year, after four years with Clark, Robertson began work in Wellington for his old university.

Robertson has been appointed as Senior Research Marketing Manager with the University of Otago’s Enterprise Office. The job involves matching business with Otago University’s top researchers.

I wonder if we will see Grant Robertson back in the political arena any time soon?


Author: Admin

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2 thoughts on “W.A.Y.N.C.R? Number 11, Grant Robertson

  1. Thanks Kate

    Yes, these people were big fish in a small compulsory pond at Uni and think they can carry on bossing people around for ever. Need to be held accountable they do.

  2. I love these “Whatever Happened To…” segments.


    More so that pretty much without fail those who were useless at University are still bludging in their adult life.

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