The country's newest libertarian think tank, the New Zealand Initiative, has been launched in Wellington, merging the New Zealand Business Roundtable and the New Zealand Institute into a new body to lobby for pro-market economic and social policies.

Leading the new organisation will be German-born economist Oliver Hartwich, a research fellow at the Australian Centre for Independent Studies, a Roundtable-equivalent organisation that at one stage had operations in New Zealand.

Former National Party Finance Minister Ruth Richardson is among the CIS's former directors, with former New Zealand Treasury Secretary Murray Horn and Geoff Ricketts, a Roundtable stalwart, tax expert and former director of the Fay Richwhite merchant bank.

While Hartwich is a fresh face for New Zealand, he is a well-known television and print commentator in Australia, on a wide range of economic issues from the eurozone crisis to welfare reform, to the politics of climate change.

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Before his CIS involvement, he was chief economist at a British think tank, Policy Exchange.

"The New Zealand Initiative is supported by a foundation membership of major company chief executives," said Roundtable chairman Roger Partridge, who also chairs law firm Bell Gully, and the Institute's chairman Tony Carter, who formerly headed the Foodstuffs Cooperative and is chairman of Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.

Partridge and Carter will jointly chair the new body.

Partridge said both organisations "recognised that the New Zealand market was not big enough for two independent CEO think tanks and could see that by joining forces they could be much more effective."

"We found we had a strong sense of common purpose. We want to help shape the landscape and start a national conversation on ideas that have intellectual integrity and rigour and the potential for profound, positive long-term impact on the well-being of New Zealand," said Partridge.

The New Zealand Initiative would "build on the legacies of its two founding organisations and will focus on raising debate on public policy and contributing bold, rigorously-researched ideas to achieve a more prosperous future for New Zealand," said Partridge and Carter in a statement.