Chairman of cyberspace has right stuff

The New Zealand Herald has a profile of ICANN’s new chair Peter Dengate Thrush this weekend. The article begins “Wellington lawyer Peter Dengate Thrush might seem an unlikely choice to head an international internet governance body.”However the article delves into Peter’s background, and asks “how did a New Zealand patent attorney and trial lawyer with a BSc in zoology and geology end up heading the body sometimes described as the UN of cyberspace?”The article notes Peter’s student activism, being “an active member of numerous student, sporting and professional bodies” and that law was not his first choice – Peter graduated with a Bachelor of Science and spent his first season of work after university as an exploration geologist.”It was exciting jumping out of helicopters, mapping streams and sleeping in tents on tops of mountains but I realised even at that relatively young age that it wasn’t much of a long-term life.””His law degree and IP law specialisation were someone else’s suggestion.” That person was his then fiancĂ©, soon to be wife. Foundation staff at Wellington’s first nightclub – seriously, Wellington may be a capital city, but it was not a capital of entertainment back then – he enquired of some law students who were celebrating one evening one of their classmates passing his final exams to be a patent attorney.Peter enquired as to what that was. “One of the chaps then said, ‘You’d be good at it because you’ve got a science degree’.”Intrigued, he investigated what was involved, and contacted a number of law firms.”The first firm I rang employed me.”Then came cyberspace and Peter became New Zealand’s Internet Society’s (now InternetNZ) first honorary counsel.And as my favourite singer-songwriter Paul Kelly sings, from little things, big things grow…To read all of the New Zealand Herald’s article, see

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