Anti-poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldolf has touched down in New Zealand to preach an "embrace technology" message to clients from one of the world's biggest accounting firms.

Last night, the I Don't Like Mondays singer spoke for over an hour to a select group of 50 clients from Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young (EY) at their Takutai Square offices in Auckland's CBD.

The central theme of Sir Bob's speech was for the world's powerful elites, the "one percenters", to "not fear technological disruption and change" by offering historical examples such as the steam engine that "augmented" our strength and power.

New Zealand managing partner of EY, Joanne Ogg, said "An Evening with Sir Bob Geldof" spanned a broad range of topics, but focused on change being "unknowable" and "constant".

Advertisement

"Bob has an incredible ability to talk about the past, talk about history and what that means for the future, and talk about the current world situation in line with what that means for all of us as individuals and leaders," Ogg said.

"Having heard him in November last year and last night, he's just on the pace completely with world events. He talked a lot about Christchurch and the impact on our country.

"He talked about different world leaders and where different countries are at, he talked about technology and the impact and rate of change we're seeing.

"He talked about artificial intelligence and how that could go so far. I recall he quoted the 'machines can't dream' message".

In a event description for one of Sir Bob similar speaking engagements for EY in the UK, the accounting firm admits: "Putting a fearlessly mouthy Irish rock star on stage in front of EY's partners and clients to challenge our thinking was a risk."

"But with the growing trust deficit between organisations and citizens driving a worrisome nationalistic and interventionist approach by governments; the rate of innovation required to keep up with technological change; and new pressure and demands from consumers and employees; it was a risk worth taking," the EY release said.

Another report from a member of last night's Auckland audience was that Sir Bob intended to travel to South Korea in the near future, and potentially venture into Kim Jong Un's rogue state north of them.

EY's Joanne Ogg said Sir Bob brought his own experience pioneering one of the largest televised events in history, 1985's Live Aid, to inform his current message of embracing new technology.

Advertisement

"He talked about Live Aid and how that came to light, and what he was trying to do, and the fact that he probably couldn't do that now because there would be too much of a barrier now. It would be too hard," Ogg said.

"Yet in the late 80s he could manage to technologically bring the nine cities together into one.

"He completely mesmerised around 50 of us, and took us on a journey of his mind really. It's very hard to do it justice because it's just so profoundly interesting and he just made us all reflect."

Geldolf's Live Aid benefit concerts in 1985 were held across nine countries, and watched by an estimated TV audience of 1.9 billion people. They reportedly raised NZ$184 million for poverty in Africa.

EY New Zealand posted on Twitter last night, describing it an honour to host Sir Bob, quoting a line from his speech: "Never before has the world felt more fractious and fearful. Never before have we needed to be more bold".

Sir Bob Geldolf at a speaking engagement at Big Four accounting firm EY in Auckland.
Sir Bob Geldolf at a speaking engagement at Big Four accounting firm EY in Auckland.

Aside from the EY speaking engagement, it is not clear what else Sir Bob is doing in New Zealand.

Last weekend, he attended the Melbourne Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Sir Bob himself has a estimated net worth of NZ$218m.

In February 2019, Geldof was confronted with fresh claims of tax avoidance and fraud that relate to the funding of his 2011 solo album How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell.

The Sunday Times published claims that Geldof had "misrepresented" the funding of that record and provided invoices that were "five times more costs than were needed".