Fonterra is seeking a new communications supremo - its third in 12 months - after the popular Gordon Jon (GJ) Thompson left on Friday.

GJ's departure has not been announced publicly.

And Thompson yesterday laughed off scuttlebutt suggesting he may have been head-hunted for another senior role with the Labour Party. (He previously worked for Prime Minister Helen Clark and was acting chief of staff for then-Labour leader Phil Goff).

He had found Fonterra "fascinating". But it was also obvious he looked forward to getting his life back and would take time to sort his next career move -- "not politics".


Page2 understands Fonterra is now in the hunt for a director of communications and a general manager of external relations. Thompson stepped up into the top coms role after former director of communications Kerry Underhill left in October and an external search failed to find a replacement for a job which has become to be seen as a "widow maker".

Meantime Fonterra has contracted former Saatchi & Saatchi chief executive Andrew Stone - who now works as a management consultant to CEOs - to lead novel moves to change perceptions about the dairy giant. The 4.31am campaign came from that.

The new director of coms is expected to report to Mike Cronin, who was last month appointed MD corporate affairs reporting directly to CEO Theo Spierings.

McClay feels his political oats

Todd McClay is determined to mark his patch with the trade portfolio. But his instincts deserted him last week.

He stepped into big shoes when Tim Groser resigned the portfolio on his appointment as Ambassador to Washington.

Groser has a big brain when it comes to global trade architecture -- and as the special envoy to the Pacific Alliance would have expected to be trusted to attend the alliance summit in Chile last week on NZ's behalf.

McClay is perfectly entitled to pull rank. "While a free trade agreement with the European Union and engagement with a post-Brexit United Kingdom are high on our agenda, we will continue to support our existing trade agreements in Asia and South America and continue to promote engagement with new and emerging markets," was how McClay put it late last month.

Unfortunately, McClay was not there to field journalists' questions when news broke (courtesy of the Telegraph) that NZ had offered to send negotiators to Britain to help it negotiate an exit from the EU.

The story goes that the "ninth floor" was not amused when McClay said from Chile that loaning staff was "not currently on the table given the range of trade negotiation commitments New Zealand is currently managing".

It was left to Foreign Minister Murray McCully to fess up to offering Britain any help NZ can give to assist its post-Brexit negotiations (and isn't ruling out giving them the use of our top trade negotiators).

McCully also floated the possibility of Britain choosing to rapidly sign a "symbolic" free trade deal with NZ.

Sometimes it pays to be in the right place at the right time when news is made in your portfolio.

Rocket Lab celebrates decade in action

Rocket Lab's team celebrated its 10th birthday this weekend in fitting fashion, at the Stardome Observatory and Planetarium in Auckland, and with a 2m-long electron rocket cake. The company, which began in 2006, is preparing to launch its first rocket into space from the Mahia Peninsula this year after becoming the first private company to reach space from the Southern Hemisphere in 2009.

"We're celebrating a fantastic 10 years. The company has grown into a large team of talented engineers who have produced a series of award-winning products," Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck said. "One of the founding principles of Rocket Lab was that, in order to make space accessible, we needed to develop an orbital vehicle that could be manufactured in volume and at world-first prices. We produce all of our technology in-house and have amassed a huge amount of aerospace knowledge over the past decade."

All eyes will be on the company later in the year to see if it can pull off the feat of successfully launching its Electron Rocket.

Sir Peter Blake Awards celebrated

More than 300 sailors, business people and guests of honour celebrated this year's Sir Peter Blake Awards on Friday night at the Auckland Museum, presented by the Governor-General Sir Jerry Mataparae. The six Blake Leader awards for outstanding leadership mid-career went to Rob Waddell, Siouxsie Wiles, Ben Kepes, Stacey Shortall, Nancy Bertler and Frances Valintine, with the Blake Medal awarded to Sir Peter Gluckman -- chief science adviser to Prime Minister John Key. Sir Peter Blake's daughter, Sarah-Jane Blake, attended the black-tie evening representing the family, and spoke about her father's life and legacy.

The evening closed in style with guests raising a toast of rum -- Blake's favourite drink, to the yachtsman.