A loss to the industry



My lasting memory of Malcolm is a person larger than life in every respect. Besides guiding the careers and shaping the thought processes of a multitude of PR practitioners in New Zealand and overseas, he had that rare gift of being able to take people along with him, with humour.

Professionally, Malcolm was my boss for four years, first at Baldwin Boyle in Wellington in the early 90s and later at Porter Novelli. However, I first met him on Carlaw Park in 1973.

It was rugby league of course, Auckland Marist were playing Greymouth Marist at the annual Marist league tournament. We got beat, not by much and ‘Midge’ Boyle played in the forwards with three Kiwis and a NZ boxing champion on the wing, Eddie Wulf.

The lasting memories for me include the wonderful socialising at Trillos with Malcolm and his teammates, where a Greymouth teammate famously ate a goldfish. On the field, it was the gap I burst through near their line about to score, then to be flattened from behind by the then Kiwi captain, Tony Krilitich.

Happy memories shared with Malcolm every time we had a beer.

Professionally, he was a respected advisor to his clients and once was putting his pads on ready to bat in an Auckland Saturday afternoon cricket match, only to have to rush from the crease to fly to Wellington, summoned by then BNZ CEO, Lindsay Pyne.

His Sir Edmund Hillary work was a benchmark for patriotic passion and love for his country. Between us and with the help of a design company, we got close to renaming Auckland International Airport, Sir Edmund Hillary Airport. I still have the presentation as it remains a fine piece of proactive, but failed work.

Working as part of the BBG team on the Alliance Group restructuring in Invercargill in 1991, where we had to announce a $141m loss, closure of two processing plants in Bluff and Kaiapoi and the loss of 1,100 jobs, the strains of being based in Invercargill away from my young family for three months were recognised by Malcolm.

He often scoffed at my failure to attend the leaguie’s mecca of a grand final in Sydney where he led an annual pilgrimage of his Auckland mates. Out of the blue, he presented me with a full package of tickets and accommodation for my family of five to attend the September 1991 final as recognition of my commitment to the Alliance job.

PR consulting is one of the toughest gigs on the planet and we like to think we are all immune to stress. Personally, I believe Malcolm did not deserve his lingering illness as he had done so much for others, both inside and outside the industry, especially in league circles.

If there is one positive that is his legacy to me, it is to capture the complete picture of what you are advocating in the intro to a media release. His Auckland Star days had him tuned up on this which he ensured his workmates were so tuned as well.

If the Warriors do not wear black armbands to honour Malcolm in their season opener against Newcastle on Sunday, I will not be renewing my membership.

Gerry Morris, PRINZ Fellow, Wellington