On 1 January 2019, founding partner and current consultant, Simon Mortlock became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s Honours awards for his services to the community and education.
Simon’s recognition on the honours list is a consequence of his involvement in numerous organisations including youth, education, affordable housing solutions, the environment and advancing rights for people with special needs. However, he is quick to point out that in New Zealand volunteering is a quintessentially Kiwi characteristic. New Zealand is among the frontrunners in the world when it comes to volunteering rates.
For Simon, this began over 40 years ago when as a young solicitor he helped set up Contact Incorporated, an organisation predominantly concerning the well-being of families with children with special needs. In 1981, Simon assisted in the reform of the Education Act provisions dealing with children with special needs to ensure their individual requirements were catered for.
One of Simon’s most significant projects has been ‘Launchpad’, a transitional school to work scheme. His business expertise and the knowledge and commitment of his then office manager, Jan Crooks, enabled the scheme to provide mutual benefit to firms and young people, breaking the impasse between those seeking work and firms who sought trained staff. The scheme, which became national, has given more than 500 students the opportunity to gain work experience and an accompanying qualification in Applied Business Practices through CPIT (now Ara) over the past twenty years. Mortlock McCormack Law currently has five people who started via ‘Launchpad’.
The focus on philanthropy, which has continued throughout Simon’s professional life, has become an integral part of the culture of Mortlock McCormack Law. All staff are encouraged to participate in activities and fundraising events, including cooking for the Ronald McDonald house and fundraising and participating in the Westpac Rescue Challenge. In addition to this, the solicitors are encouraged to undertake pro bono work, which Simon says helps to keep the staff grounded.
In his personal capacity, Simon is currently Chair and founding trustee of the Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust; trustee of the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust; trustee of the Joseph Langer Charitable Trust and Chair of the Governors Bay Jetty Restoration Trust. He has served on the Early Intervention Trust for the Champion Centre; been involved in SPELD New Zealand, and he was the honorary solicitor for the Christchurch Special Needs Library for forty years. He has also worked with 15 Social Enterprises over a period of three years, an initiative of the Tindall Foundation, which gave him a good insight into the work of Philanthropy and the Not-for-profit sector in New Zealand.
Simon emphasises that the achievement is “a recognition of all the people I have worked with; and a reflection of the significance of the community volunteers sector”.