ILANZ, In-House Lawyers Association of New Zealand


Profile - The Weenink Brothers

Profile - The Weenink Brothers

By JAMES GREENLAND| June 21, 2016 at 12:00 AM

Weenink BrothersTheir banter begins almost before the invitation to be profiled by ILANZ is accepted.

Middle-brother Mark fires the first shot, referring to the trio’s family graduation portrait in which it’s claimed Scott’s photo was “doctored” to add a couple extra inches in height – “to bring him up to the family average”.

“It is always better to get in early with this sort of information,” Mark remarks.

Scott, three years younger, chips in; “you brat!”, then provides his curriculum vitae as requested.

“Boy, you do have to get in quick,” eldest brother Brent retorts, “but Mark’s assessment fairly accurate”.

The Weenink brothers

Brent Weenink is General Counsel and Head of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at OM Financial.

Mark Weenink is General Counsel and General Manager of Regulatory Affairs and Compliance for Westpac New Zealand.

Scott Weenink is General Counsel and Company Secretary for Auckland Airport.

“Secretly, we are all probably quite proud of each other, but it is more fun to keep each other well-grounded,” Mark concludes.

The Weenink brothers are a trio of Wellington lads (Rongotai College old boys) who have each excelled at in-house practice after gaining law degrees from Victoria University.

Brent finished first, then Mark, then Scott.

Each then proceeded to earn a Masters qualification – in law, business, and law respectively.

Mark says Scott has the most interesting CV, having played both cricket and rugby for Wellington and earning a double “Oxford Blue” for his first class performances in both sports while studying at the prestigious English university (the first Kiwi since Martin Donnelly to do so). He adds, with only a touch of fraternal derision, that Brent’s claim to fame was winning the open-age Tanzanian tennis championship when they were young and growing up in East Africa where their father was a World Bank economist.

Each of the Weenink brothers have had international careers traversing both private and in-house practise, though all three are now settled firmly in New Zealand – Mark and Scott both in St Helliers, Auckland.

Brent spent 11 years raising his family in the Cook Islands (his wife Karen Harvey remains partner of a C.I. law practice, albeit practising from the family home in Wellington) where he worked in the private trust and banking industry with Southpac.

Mark was a partner of US firm McDermott Will Emery, and worked out of London before moving to Sydney to be General Counsel for Challenger – an investment management firm.

Scott worked for international firm Norton Rose in London and Singapore, as well as throughout Asia (based in Singapore) as General Counsel for massive Qatari telecom company Ooreedoo, before recently coming home to God’s own – “so my kids can grow up as New Zealanders”.

“We have all come to a similar position from very different career paths,” Mark says.

“And we all have quite different personalities.”

The brothers credit their parents for impressing upon them the importance of good values and fronting up to responsibility.

“Law was a natural progression for all of us,” Brent says.

“From time to time we have all flirted with non or quasi-legal roles but there is something in the DNA that attracts us to the role of GC,” says Mark.

“You wouldn’t describe us as your stereotypical ‘lawyers’”, Scott says.

“Our mother, Julie (a law librarian and legal executive), played a big part in this but also our father, Gerald, who was your typical CEO ‘bush lawyer’ and thought he knew more about the law than anyone else.

“Interestingly both my brothers advised me against doing law, and I really only decided to study law so that I could participate in family conversations at Sunday lunch!

“By the time I got around to thinking about what I would do at university, we had been joined by Brent’s wife, also a lawyer, and our sister Jenny’s husband, also a lawyer, in the family discussions.

“I subsequently married a lawyer too … a bit sad I know,” Scott says.

He proudly adds that the next generation – with niece Kate Arthur (daughter of Greg Arthur, a former managing partner of AJ Park) soon to start at Lane Neave – is about to enter the profession.

Brent says he doubts it was ‘leadership’ that inspired his younger brothers to follow his footsteps into law, though admits he did make an impression by setting the bar “pretty low to begin with”, if not on his bro’s then on his lecturers.

“Professor Dave McLauchlan still remembers me 30 years on from my law study days, which has to count for something,” he says.

“When my daughter was attending his law class a few years ago, she proudly answered ‘Brent’, when he asked her in class whether she was Scott’s, Mark’s or Brent’s daughter. 

“[Professor McLauchlan] drily complimented her on her uncles, and then said he hoped she would attend class more regularly than her father had! She did.”

While the Weeninks enjoy jostling with one another over good quotes for the journalist, they say the brotherly rivalry between them tends to be supportive more than anything else.

“We are very close, and so are our families,” says Scott.

“Unfortunately my two older brothers kept, keep raising the bar professionally, so as the youngest I naturally have to try and keep up!”

Although, on the rugby and cricket pitches growing up, competition was fierce.

“We built a cricket net in our backyard and used to spend hours battling it out in “mock test matches”.

“I usually had to get the two older brothers out three or four times before they would accept that it was my turn to bat – they were both terrible cheats – so it certainly helped with my bowling,” says Scott.

“There is no doubt that the backyard cricket generally ended in a bat flying towards one of the others,” Mark admits, “… generally Scotty, who liked to shore-up one end, for gloating rights alone”.

“Youngest brothers tend to come sporting a healthy chip on the shoulder and we like to keep that alive and well!”

And eldest, Brent: “They’re both still trying to recover from losing to me by five and six innings – a complicated game format, admittedly – respectively in the Backyard Cricket World Cup of 1981.”

During the brothers’ epic multi-innings backyard matches Brent says he would pretend to be / take on the persona of Swedish tennis great Bjorn Borg – “until I retired at 18”.

“Scott’s still pretending,” Brent says.

“Mark was like Ian Jones on the cricket field and Grace Jones on the rugby field.”

But Brent does give his younger brothers their due, adding that both Mark and Scott were (are?) genuinely gifted sportsmen.

“Mark was a pretty handy quick bowler, although I had to tone him earlier in his career after he’d started starting firing in these very, very fast bouncers at the senior partners during annual partners v. staff cricket matches,” Brent says.

“Fortunately, Mark has acquired greater tact and diplomacy in his subsequent corporate roles.”