When “retired” chartered accountant Robin Brockie put his name forward for the TSB Community Trust he found himself stepping back in time.
“It was the first interview I’d had for a role since I was interviewed for the (accountancy) practice 42 years ago. It was pretty daunting,” he says.
But the man of many hats accepted the challenge, landed the trustee role and joined the philanthropic organisation in July 2017.
Before that, he spent more than four decades with the same accountancy firm, which began with the name Wilberfoss and, over the years, morphed into Staples Rodway. “I evolved with it.”
In December 2015, the partner in the New Plymouth firm closed his ledgers. “I knew if I had stayed around I would’ve become a barrier to people coming through.”
He also knew his retirement wouldn’t just be filled up with the pleasantries of travelling with accountant wife Barbara Brockie, “chainsaw” gardening, polishing his classic Jaguar cars, gym workouts and cycling on his hybrid bike.
“I needed mental stimulation,” he says. “Keeping the mind and body in shape; they say that’s pretty good for longevity.”
He’s keeping extremely mentally agile by working with many community organisations, including as chair of the WITT Council, a director of the Tui Ora Board, and chairman of the Venture Taranaki Trust.
Originally from the Wairarapa, Robin moved to Taranaki in 1985 and, outside of work, he joined the New Plymouth West Rotary Club and was a member for 27 years.
He was instrumental in setting up the Dame Malvina Major Foundation to support young musicians and then became the charity’s chairman. He has also been at the helm of the Venture Taranaki Trust and the Taranaki Arts Community Trust.
While his daughters Emma and Renee were growing up, he was on both the Mangorei School and Sacred Heart Girls’ College board of trustees.
He is also a Canon of the Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary's and has been heavily involved in management of the Waikato and Taranaki diocese.
In 2016, he received a Queen’s Service Medal for his commitment to the community.
So, what drives the New Plymouth man to help others? “Principally, to keep me out of mischief,” he laughs.
“After 42 years of professional and worldly experience, I have got something I can give back. It’s nothing to do with remuneration because the hours that go into these activities are huge, some more than others.”
He’s also extremely self-aware about when to step back. “If I don’t think that I’m contributing to make a positive difference, that’s the time I will get off and retire.”
In the meantime, Robin is fully focused on the TSB Community Trust, which he knows well. When working for Staples Rodway, the company provided professional services to the trust.
“I know all the good work it does in the Taranaki community, so why not take the opportunity to look from the inside out, rather than the outside in,” he says.
“I’m privileged and humbled to be part of it. I would think it’s one of the most heavily endowed trusts in New Zealand.”
But he is clear that while he has an accounting background, the skills and knowledge he brings to the trust table involve people relationships, organisational structures and strategy, management, innovative thinking, communication, patience, principles and honesty. “What you see is what you get.”