PRINZ awarded two new Life members and four new Fellows in 2019

26 July 2019

The Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) awarded Life membership to Lisa Finucane and Fiona Cassidy at its annual awards ceremony in the Beehive Wellington on Thursday 25 July.

The award recognises the significant service of Lisa and Fiona to PRINZ over a long period. They are strong advocates for PRINZ and the PR Industry.

Lisa has remained involved with PRINZ for more than 30 years. She became an accredited member of the PR Institute in 1987 and was elected a Fellow in 2001. Lisa led APR and PRINZ Awards judging, supported, mentored staff and colleagues.

Fiona has held senior executive appointments on the PRINZ National Council including National President and Chair of the College of Fellows. Fiona has also sat on APR Board, the Central Committee, Education Committee, awards judging panel and been a mentor for many members.

Life membership is the highest accolade from PRINZ, previously awarded to 14 recipients and last presented in 2018.

At the awards ceremony, PRINZ also inducted four new Fellows: Adelle Keely, Acumen Republic, Sarah Fraser, National Institute for Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Sarah Williams, Porter Novelli, and Simon Roche, High Performance Sport New Zealand.

PRINZ Fellows demonstrate a high degree of competence in the practice of public relations and are nominated based on their significant contribution to the enhancement of the public relations profession.

The new Life member and Fellows have been recognised for their contribution to public relations at the PRINZ annual awards ceremony where they were inducted by PRINZ Immediate Past President, Felicity Price and Chair of the PRINZ College of Fellows, Fiona Cassidy.

Life member

Lisa Finucane

After completing her undergraduate Bachelor’s degree, followed by a stint in hospitality, Lisa Finucane completed New Zealand’s first tertiary programme in Public Relations – the Diploma of PR at what was then ATI (now AUT University). This time-honoured, foot-in-the-door led to an interview with CEO of Bretts DCA - Jock O’Connor – an admittedly pretentious argument over champagne and a job offer in 1985. Working for the likes of founding legends such as Chuck Oliver and Laurie Cleal, in a company where female consultants were in a decided minority (look at you now Jane Sweeney), it wasn’t surprising that after joining PRINZ in 1986 she was press-ganged into being the Bretts representative on the PRINZ Auckland committee. By 2001 she was the regional Chair, under the Presidency of Norrey Simmons and working with Executive Director Murray McKinnon.

After a couple of years break overseas, Lisa was back, and in cahoots with Tim Marshall she saw Cedric Allan into the role of President to steady the PRINZ ship during the monumental “Secrets and Lies” ethics case initiated by Nicky Hager, and the appointment of Paul Dryden as Chief Executive. This, and succeeding years with Tim, then Lisa and then Fiona Cassidy heading up PRINZ, saw a significant leap in the professionalism of PRINZ, with APR, the awarding of Fellowships, engagement with tertiary institutes, and professional development being fine-tuned and reinvented. Building on what had gone before and establishing a solid professional base for leaders to follow, Lisa has remained involved with PRINZ for more than 30 years. Over the course of her career she has represented New Zealand at the Global Alliance making personal friendships with industry leaders like Anne Gregory, Gregor Halff and Catherine Arrow that have placed PRINZ right at the heart of the world’s peak PR and Communication Management body. In New Zealand Lisa led APR and PRINZ Awards judging, supported, mentored, chivvied staff, colleagues and perfect strangers into membership, and most importantly championed PRINZ as the national organisation of the PR/Communications professional.

Lisa became an accredited member of the PR Institute in 1987 and was elected a Fellow in 2001. In her long career that spans the consultancy, in-house, local government and tertiary sectors she has largely managed to avoid glory in the PRINZ Awards which she believes made her uniquely qualified for her most recent role as Chief Judge.

Lisa is honoured to receive this recognition. She would like to acknowledge the senior people who employed, inspired and challenged her, her colleagues and peers who like her started when good PR was measured in column inches and still need to remind themselves that digital is just another channel, and the younger professionals who keep pushing the PR industry and PRINZ to higher levels of skill and professionalism.

And finally, her special acknowledgement to colleagues and friends who have helped shape this organisation and PR in Aotearoa New Zealand and whose contribution lives on after they have – particularly Paul Dryden, Joseph Peart, David Paine, and Fiona Cunningham.

Fiona Cassidy Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa

Fiona joined PRINZ in 1997 and less than six months later was the PRINZ Central Division Chair.

Ten years later, in 2007 she became National President, Chief Judge and a Fellow. In fact since 2007 Fiona has spent almost 17 years on the National Council.

Since becoming a member Fiona has held every senior PRINZ appointment and today she is the Chair of the College of Fellows, Central Divisional Co- Chair and sits on the National Council. Fiona is also on the APR Board, Education Committee, and is a Lead Judge and mentor.

Fiona started her career as an Army officer and saw active service in both the Middle East and the Pacific. She asked to be the NZ Army PR Manager in 1996. – a job no one wanted. This started her on her second career as a PR professional.

Fiona has worked nationally and internationally both in-house and as a consultant. She has held every senior management appointment a PR professional can, and has also been a General Manager.

Fiona is passionate about professional development. She works tirelessly to ensure she is at the top of her game and shares her knowledge by mentoring students through to senior practitioners.

She is part of Massey University Business Advisory Committee and is an advisor on its Bachelor of Communication programme. In her spare time she sits on a number of not-for-profit boards.

Fiona is often called on to speak at both international and national events on a range of topics. She loves showcasing to the world that we in NZ are truly unique.

Fiona was appointed to the Global Alliance of PR and Management Board in 2015 and was part of team that worked on NZ winning the right to host the World PR conference here in NZ in October 2020. Fiona was also appointed as an Executive Officer to the Board earlier this month.

Fiona has been described as a force of nature and someone who gets things done.

She is a leader in every sense of the word. She leads from the front, she leads by example, she leads through the work she produces. She epitomises everything a PRINZ Life Member should be.

In closing I leave you with a whakatauki from Far North Rangtira Sir James Henare which I believe speaks to Fiona.

"Kua tawhiti kē to haerenga mai, kia kore e haere tonu. He nui rawa ou mahi, kia kore e mahi tonu."

"You have come too far not to go further, you have done too much not to do more."


Adelle Keely

Adelle is the consummate professional, having spent all 20 years of her professional career in the public relations industry in New Zealand, the UK and the USA.

Her professional life has been in agencies both in NZ and overseas and now at Acumen Republic which she leads as chief executive. In her current role she is taking the agency into new directions – a communications agency that provides business advice and strategy but as well manages a group of consultants that undertake corporate and marketing work with specialists in issues management, stakeholder relations, media relations, government relations, financial and capital market communications, design and production, product and channel marketing and promotion, social media and web development, and events management and activation. Her knowledge and leadership ability is palpable.

This is backed up with her strong belief in the training of the new generation, whether that be in-house, at the industry level or in other sectors.

Her contribution extends beyond the strict confines of our industry – she engages with the Communications Council advocating for the importance of our sector’s range of craft skills.

Over the years Adelle has also developed governance skills and as the managing director of Acumen is a member of a Board that includes both executive and independent directors.

She is a worthy member to be a Fellow of our Institute.

Sarah Fraser

Sarah Fraser is an exemplar of a relations practitioner. She commits time to encouraging young practitioners to learn their craft, while also promoting the importance of public relations and great communications with senior management across all the industries she has worked in.

In her current role as NIWA’s Communication Manager, Sarah has enhanced the reputation of the communications team both inside and outside the organisation.

In a world where everyone “knows how to do PR and marketing”, Sarah has shown senior staff in all her roles the importance of involving communications and PR in their thinking and planning. In particular, her advice and expertise is now a key component of how NIWA operates – whether it be planning scientific research projects that require a public communication approach or in submitting funding applications – a vital role in the science community.

She has shown scientists seeking funding in a competitive environment and those working with clients, that it is vitally important to include public relations planning in their work. Better communication of their projects has resulted in continued relationships and further work for NIWA.

Her advice on politically sensitive issues is keenly sought by members of NIWA’s executive as they walk the fine line of providing expert advice but not policy direction.

Sarah has a passion for her work as a PR practitioner and an enthusiasm for the industries in which she chooses to work. The New Zealand PR scene is much improved thanks to her efforts.

Sarah Williams

Sarah is one of the country’s top communication professionals, who is also one of the nicest. I have worked with her over the years when she was the client and us, the consultancy, and now as a peer as we grapple with the challenges of being MDs of PR agencies. She is passionate, thoughtful and engaged. Taking the easy road is not her approach, and as a client and a consultant she advocates for what’s right over what’s easy.”

Known as a professional, honest and inspiring leader, Sarah is an outstanding exemplar of the profession we represent. Her long work and volunteer history demonstrates her significant contribution to the industry and as such her nominators believe she is an impressive member who is deserving of the Fellows accolade, an honour we know she will take seriously and value highly.

Simon Roche

An astute politically aware communications professional, Simon Roche has more than a decade of experience earned in-house and in public relations consulting. An enthusiastic APR judge and previous Northern Committee member, Simon has managed to carve out a niche for himself in the dynamic public relations industry fusing together his love of sport, politics and communications.

If you’ve ever attended or watched a major sports event in Auckland over the last decade odds are that Simon was working meticulously behind the scenes to ensure a successful event experience.

He has a knack for sniffing out potential risks and issues and flagging these, creating compelling messages, stakeholder matrices and risk registers. Simon’s MO is No Surprises and that’s a highly valued strategic approach by many civic and private industry leaders.

A confident orator and networker, Simon is as comfortable MCing an event or conducting a stakeholder interview as he is pitching a media story or commanding the boardroom table.

The PR profession needs leaders to take its mission to the public and Simon’s message commands attention. It may be the combination of his physical presence and precision with words, but Simon is an intelligent operator that earns him respect at the top.

A pride in the industry he has chosen to build his career in has seen Simon leap at opportunities to advance the profession. He truly believes in the power of communications to make the world, and particularly his hometown Auckland, a better place.