Steven’s legal and professional career spans commercial work at Russell McVeagh, appointment as a government department deputy chief executive, in market trade representation in China, and legal work for two years based in the Beehive.
Until September 2022, Steven worked as a deputy chief executive at Te Puni Kōkiri | Ministry of Māori Development, the government’s principal policy advisor on Māori wellbeing and development. As a member of the ministry’s executive leadership team, he shared responsibility for strategy setting and advising Ministers. His specific responsibilities covered risk and assurance, project management, governance, ministerial services, and providing strategic and tactical advice to the chief executive.
Steven worked as an in house lawyer and as a trade representative at the Ministry for Primary Industries. As a lawyer his responsibilities covered managing the ministry’s response to a government inquiry, and advising on aspects of dairy, fisheries, forestry, horticulture, and meat industry regulation.
Steven was then posted to China for five years as a trade representative for New Zealand. He learned spoken and written Chinese to business proficiency. Posted to New Zealand’s Embassy in Beijing, he worked most recently as the Counsellor responsible for market access between New Zealand and the People’s Republic of China. His brief covered maintaining and enhancing the rules governing market access for most goods trade with China, including dairy, honey, horticultural, meat, seafood, and wood products. His work demanded constant connections with China’s food safety, biosecurity, and border agencies, and New Zealand exporters and their local agents.
For two years he was based in the Beehive working at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as the Legal and Constitutional Advisor in the Cabinet Office. There Steven experienced first-hand how the machinery of government operates as he assisted the Secretary of the Cabinet in advising the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, and Ministers on legal and constitutional matters affecting executive government decision making.
Steven started his legal career at Russell McVeagh, working between 2008 and 2014 as a graduate, solicitor, and finally senior solicitor in the Public Law and Policy team. He primarily advised commercial clients. Steven received a Russell McVeagh scholarship when at university.
Steven has also previously served in governance roles as a director/board member, including the New Zealand Customs Service's Assurance and Risk Committee, the Council of the University of Otago, University Book Shop (Otago) Limited, Student Job Search Aotearoa Incorporated, and Planet Media Dunedin Limited.