Malvern House - Lynn

Some thoughts on the late Lynn Saunders

This 27 January marks the 12th anniversary of the death of Lynn Austin Saunders.  Lynn was my first ever ‘real’ boss and a registry-man of some repute.

I thought it might be nice to record a few words about the man.

At the time of his death, in 2003, Lynn was the Regional Manager of the Insolvency and Trustee Service.  Formerly he had been the Regional or District Manager of both the Companies Office and Insolvency Service for Christchurch and surrounds.  He had a long career in the public service, he had served nearly 40 years.

Lynn was a rather remarkable man.  He was a significant mentor of mine and I believe we grew to become friends over the years.  We were sort of neighbours in that he lived in the port suburb of Lyttelton and I over the hill in Sumner.  Lynn had grown up in Sumner.

When I applied for a role with the Commercial Affairs Division of the Department of Justice it was Lynn and another legendary chap Robin MacDuff (the office solicitor) who interviewed me for the role. I remember with some amusement the interview as I had not long left the monastery, having decided that the life of a monk was not for me.  One of Lynn’s questions was to ask how I might cope should a fellow staff member use bad language.  I gave some answer or another (that must have been satisfactory).  I laugh now as I am frequently told I swear like a sailor…

I have long been of the view that there is a correlation between the effectiveness of an employee, their loyalty (and longevity) in a role and the quality of their induction.  I attribute this believe a lot to my own experience and that of others who started in their roles under Lynn’s management.  There are a number of those staff still employed by the Ministry today.

Malvern House - Lynn

Lynn in his office, Malvern House days.

Lynn had no formal university qualifications as he had pretty much worked from the moment he left school.  He was lucky in that the public service in which he worked didn’t need such things.  Lynn was extremely intelligent.  He had an incredible ability to get to the heart of an issue and to develop a strategy or process to resolve or improve it.  He was a master a business process reengineering.

Lynn was the brains behind some of the biggest changes in customer experience in the Companies Office in his day.  The ‘shuttle’ Annual Return, the ‘abstract’ or CommAff1.  He played a significant part in the development of the Companies Act 1993 and in the development of the early iterations of the Companies Office computer systems (that so much of my own life has revolved around).  What is equally impressive is that while he was contributing so generously to the New Zealand Companies Office he was doing the same for the Insolvency Service.  His capacity for work was equal only to his capacity for a beer (which was significant!).  He was always looking for the next opportunity for improvement, he contributed to national committees on nearly everything and was very well regarded by his management in Wellington.

He instilled a culture of assistance for clients rather than annoyance.  Drilling staff to ensure that they assisted a client in getting a document registered the first time rather than playing ping pong with rejection letters (Those who knew Lynn might enjoy the reference to ping pong as he had significant involvement with the Hoon Hay Table Tennis Club for many years).

He was a very supportive manager and was able to provide meaningful and constructive career (or personal) advice.

Lynn managed an office in an era where social clubs were the norm and where staff socialised regularly.  We had some ripper parties back in the day and Lynn managed always to balance the ‘party’ and the ‘boss’.

I am very grateful to him for all he taught (either overtly or through my observation), he was a wonderful man and I think of him often, I hope it says something of his leadership that I do.


Lynn as Santa. Always an office ritual in the days before political correctness.


Just testing to see if this thing still works.

Hello?  Hello?  Is this thing on?

My contributions to this blog have been woeful in recent months. In fact if I look back on my efforts here over the last year I wonder why I pay to have the thing at all.

Any regular visitor could be forgiven for thinking I’ve given up or have been incarcerated in a place devoid of Internet or that I have taken a vow of silence (many I am sure wish I would take such a vow).

I am here, however. Very much alive and kicking.

I’ve been a little busy with the day-to-day adventures of life in 2014. My last entry referred to my return to Foster Moore as a consultant. The role requires me to be here-there-and-everywhere a fair bit of the time.

It’s a great job, which allows me to spend time visiting companies registries in various parts of the world. I meet with the personnel in those registries and learn their needs in terms of the technologies they currently use (and of course encourage them to use Foster Moore’s rather wonderful solution instead).

In the time I’ve been back with Foster Moore I’ve visited Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia (several times), Manila – The Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Canada (Vancouver, Victoria, Ottawa, Ontario), United States (Baltimore, Denver, Bismarck, Columbus) and Sydney – Australia.  I’ve settled right back in to the rhythm of travel. I have my travel kit, my noise cancelling headphones my little rituals of pre-boarding… all the OCD behaviours of someone who does this stuff a bit.

I’ve also been enjoying the progress visible around my home city, Christchurch. The rebuild of the city is well and truly underway. The infrastructure repair of roads and bridges along with the construction of new buildings is all gaining momentum. The city is beginning to look better in more and more places. It is very heartening.  Of course I am watching the construction of the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct with even more interest.

I’ve popped my passport away for a few weeks and am looking forward to the holiday season with my lovely family.  We are very lucky to live near the Pacific Ocean in our beloved Sumner.  We get to wander the beach and recharge the batteries for a few weeks before the adventures of 2015 commence.

More ramblings may occur as the brain unwinds over the next week.  In the meantime, happy holidays for those who have them at this time of the year.

How I saw much of 2014…


Foster Moore – The Sequel

And it’s official, I’m heading back to Foster Moore – The Registry People.   I hope (and expect) it’ll be like The Godfather 2 a really good sequel.   I’ve been away for about ten months.

While I’ve enjoyed my time at the Ministry of Justice the lure of all things registry was too much.  I’ve missed the registry world and I’m keen to jump back in.

I am hoping to be able to keep ‘my hand in’ the interesting work of the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct albeit in a greatly reduced capacity, time wise.

I start back with the Foster Moore family on 11 July and head away to North America pretty much straight away.  There’s lots to do and I am delighted to be part of the team doing it once again.

The bad news for you the reader is that there’s likely to be more rambling from overseas airports, hotels and the occasional conference to clog up this blog.  If you think that’s bad, however, spare a thought for the poor sods who have to suffer my airline selfies on Instagram.

Onward and upward.

I lost my words for a while

Hello world.  I read an opinion piece in the The Press recently relating to the desperation being experienced by some of my fellow Canterbrians living in our earthquake ravaged city.  It resonated with me for several reasons, it is sometimes very hard to live in this city.  But I was also taken by the reference made by the author  to having lost his words for years.

I’ve not been very active on this wee part of my world for many many months.  It is not that I have lost my words.  If anything I am far too verbose on far too many occasions.  It is more that the words I wanted to record those times I found myself sitting in front of this screen on this site were not happy ones.  I have tapped out several rants, a few self pitying monologues and then thankfully deleted them.  Some of the pieces were about people who I feel have let me down, some about politicians, others about the terrible traffic, none were important in the scale of things. There are far too many negative things on the internet.  I try to contribute positively.

For those interested, and logic suggests that if you are reading these words that means you, I have been busy transitioning from my registry world to my new role.  I have been learning a whole new language around the project I am working on; the building of the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct.  I have met a collection of new and interesting people  all of whom have added to my understanding of the emergency services world and that of the justice sector.

I have got used to not being at airports and in being in my smaller world of Christchurch.  It is as the article I referred to above reports, a bipolar place these days.  Some mornings (usually the sunny ones) I find myself brimming with hope and happiness for the city and the rebuild.  New buildings, positive people, remnants of the old city, the sea and our beloved parks and river all encourage this feeling.  Other days the traffic jams, the road works, the flooding, the bureaucracy, the personality politics and the overwhelming size of the challenge conspire to leave me empty, tired and deflated at the sheer scale of it all.

Apart from the new job the other major change in life has been seeing our first born head off to university. Annie opted for the University of Otago and is enjoying the adventure of her first year studying law there.  She is in a hall of residence (Arana College) and  is fully immersed in university life already.  It has made for a different home feel with only Molly and Katie with us.  We miss Annie greatly but understand this is the whole growing up thing (for her) and growing old thing (for me!).  It has also provided the opportunity for some great road trips and weekends in that beautiful city.  It has allowed for the reconnection with good friends there also.

Molly is busy studying diligently for her year eleven NCEA credits.  Interspersed with our shared enjoyment of Miranda and Sherlock of course.

Katie is captivated by the current craze around rainbow bands and is proficient and making all sorts of interesting and challenging versions of them.

Katherine and I marked twenty five years of marriage in March.  It was a lovely milestone and celebrated in our typically understated way.  It is a significant occasion and we have shared a great deal on this planet together so far.

I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading.  I had never been a great fan of biographies preferring the escapism of fiction but I have found myself enjoying a few recently.  I particularly enjoyed “The Mighty Totara: The Life and Times of Norman Kirk  as with many biographies of successful people it left me wondering about the mark such people leave on the world and what if any my generation will add.

I’ve enjoyed a few good movies recently, my great refuge from reality.  Of note was “The Grand Budapest Hotel  and also Nebraska and Mud (in part because I was in Arkansas last year).

For the first time ever I missed a Corporate Registers Forum conference.  In Rio, Brazil of all places.  I had two invitations to attend.  It is very satisfying to reflect on the maturity of that wonderful organisation and to know that it is in such great hands moving forward.  I’ve decided not to travel to Milwaukee for the IACA conference on the 18th of May.  My commitments at the Ministry of Justice are such that travel would be problematic over that period.  I may yet get to return to things registry once again, there are plenty of ideas still to be shared.  I miss my registry friends.

I was rocked somewhat at the recent death of our neighbour.  Bob died in the back of an ambulance up his driveway on Easter Monday.  It was a lovely sunny day and we were in our garden pottering about when I noticed an ambulance outside his property.  I went upstairs to see what was going on and witnessed him receiving CPR in the back of the vehicle.  It was all rather surreal and for me bought back memories of watching my mum experience similar intervention.  I took some comfort from the fact that his adult son was at his side, holding his hand.  Bob was in his late eighties but still it was a sad and sudden loss for all concerned.  It left me once again contemplating the fragility of this whole existence.

I’ve taken a particular shine to a statue of Captain James Cook RN.  One of my heroes. It is located in Victoria Square and I walk past it most days on my way to work.  It is one of three I have seen.  The others were in London, England and Victoria, British Columbia.  He was a truly remarkable man.





Always trying to evolve, I am trying to be quieter and to listen more.  It’s hard. I do go on a lot.  Someone commented recently when I teased them about not getting an invite to some drinks that I would have dominated the evening.  Further proof I need to shut up more often.

I’ve been listening to Jackson Browne a fair bit and love the line in his “Barricades of Heaven” that speaks to the journey in us all – “I was just trying to hear my song”.  I’m still trying to figure out mine.

I am hoping however that my written laryngitis is over and that I might, through this poorly structured ramble, record a little more of the every day thinking of a person about whom a book will never be penned.

Which is just as well as no bugger would buy the bloody thing anyway.





2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 32 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

Well actually not so much different but new. I am leaving full time employment with Foster Moore. After two very enjoyable years with the team there I am returning to public service. I have accepted a role with the Ministry of Justice based in Christchurch.

I will be working on the rebuilding of Christchurch and on the rejuvenation of my earthquake damaged home city. I am excited at the opportunity to contribute to Christchurch and to apply my skills (whatever they might be) to innovative service delivery within Canterbury to the Justice Sector.

I’ll be involved in a bit of this , this and a bit of this and some other interesting things as well.

In some respects it feels like coming home. My first public service role was with the Companies Office who were at that time part of the Department of Justice.

I shall miss my colleagues at Foster Moore and all the wonderful registry people I have had the privilege of meeting across the globe.

I will enjoy popping my passport away for a while (I will not miss US domestic air travel one bit). I have been very lucky to have seen so much of the world. I want to see more of it but wish to do so with my family by my side.

I am looking forward to spending a few more weekends at home with Katherine and my girls. I hope they’re looking forward to that also! I shall particularly enjoy working in an office once more. These last two years have proven demonstrably that I am ill suited to working from home.

I shall dig out my suits and ties, polish the shoes and head off to do my bit for a better future for Christchurch. I take up my new life from mid October.

I am a registry geek and will of course stay in contact with happenings in that world.  Some registry consulting may also be on the agenda.

I will still bore anyone silly enough to follow me on Facebook, Twitter or this blog. The observations will not be from such exotic places and will by necessity be non-political but they will be my observations of life nonetheless.

Change is the only constant in the universe.