About the photographer

New Zealand Pictures by Graeme Robertson

My interest in photography began more than 45 years ago.  I’ve won several national competitions, been published in magazines and newspapers, and images have been used in many websites.  My new gallery, ‘New Zealand Photos Online’ covers the New Zealand landscape, New Zealand birds (especially albatross), as well as some stunning pictures of dolphins.

But I also like sports and events photography.  My latest challenge is gymnastics: I’m covering the 2012 national championships in Blenheim soon. I have a large collection of photographs of motorcycle speedway riders, both on and off the track. These were taken at the Ronnie Moore Speedway Park where I was the unofficial club photographer for four years.  You will find the best of these speedway pics in the gallery too!

I’ve had a long and satisfying career, as a professional engineer and CEO. For most of the past 20 years I managed Cawthron Institute, an independent research institute in Nelson specialising in aquatic science and environmental research. More recently I was CEO of Lincoln Ventures, a research company owned by Lincoln University.

Management Philosophy

For 17 years I was lucky enough to have a job which allowed me to manage an organisation the way I wanted. Well, for 15 of those years.  The organisation, which had once been New Zealand’s pre-eminent scientific research establishment, was in its 70th year when I arrived and was on its way down.  When it was time for me to leave, staff numbers had grown from the low 30s to more than 150 and its future was looking solid. It was a great ride, and I’ve tried to capture some of the highlights  in various posts on this site which will pop up from time to time.

I wrote down some of the factors which I believed were vital for the success of that uniques, independent, community-owned research institute – some of the factors might surprise you!  A short version, “What made it work”,  was published in the journal of the New Zealand Institute of Directors. You can find it here:  IOD Boardroom Sept 1.4 . It got a bit garbled and strewn with typos during the publication process, but the general gist remains. (I was surprised that the editor had never heard of Demming, or that he was now dead.)

At the farewell ceremony, a video clip was shown which had been put together by some of the staff. It included footage from a Television New Zealand filming for the  classic ” Country Calendar” series, on a revolutionary new way to grow large quantities of food for shellfish (all of which had ended up on the cutting room floor – where does it go in this modern digital age?).  This material was interspersed amongst interviews with clients, staff and other stakeholders.  The overall tone was affectionate, wonderfully disrespectful and very funny indeed.  It’s something that I will always treasure.

I’ve uploaded a shortened version here, so you can catch the flavour.  For the benefit of offshore readers, the one interview which I have retained is with Dr Nick Smith, Member of Parliament for Nelson and a long serving member of the Cawthron Institute Trust Board.  He is now Minister for the Environment in the current government. The “Jim Bolger”  Nick refers to was actually the Prime Minister of New Zealand at the time.  (We are not strong on formality in New Zealand and, probably because it’s such a small country, we do get to meet our leaders face-to-face!)

(Caution: this video will take a while to download)

Extracts from Cawthron farewell video “Happy talk, keep talkin’ happy talk” (acknowledgements to Rodgers and Hammerstein)

What now?

For most of the past few decades, I was too busy to spend time in a darkroom. The digital revolution changed all of that, enabling me to combine my love of photography with a secret life as a computer geek.  I am now able to devote much of my time to this rediscovered passion.

View my selection of New Zealand pictures at New Zealand Photos Online, where you will find it easy to order prints.  I hope you enjoy the galleries!