Peter Smith 1948 – 2017

Peter Smith - Moore Stephens MarkhamsOn 24 August 2017, we said farewell to our dear colleague, mentor, and advisor, Peter Smith, after a short battle with cancer. Peter was a partner of our Wellington business advisory firm for many years and, in more recent times, was a partner in our Wellington, Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay audit practices.

A true gentleman, Peter will be very much missed for his calm, dignified demeanour, his considerable knowledge and expertise that he freely shared, and his generous mentorship and support of clients, his team and his colleagues.

Peter began his accounting career in 1966, in Auckland, where his first job was ticking off receipts for a union audit. He then moved to Wellington and spent five years with KPMG while he completed his qualifications. Working for a particularly “stern” partner, Peter was quick to leave once qualified. Ironically when he secured his next position at the Cornish Group, Peter came back under the tutelage of that same stern partner who was appointed as statutory manager.

In 1979, Peter responded to an advertisement for business advisory accounting firm, Mason King and two years later took the place of a retiring partner and, as he said in his farewell speech to his Wellington colleagues, “the rest was history”. Mason King ultimately joined the Markhams group in 2006.

Markhams Wellington Audit merged with Miller Dean in 2008, and from this developed the Markhams Miller Dean Audit partnership that Peter oversaw in addition to his Markhams business advisory practice.

Over his almost 40 years, Peter employed many staff. Bruce Stormer was interviewed by Peter in August 1984, joined his accounting team in January 1985, and became his partner in 1997 until Peter’s retirement from Moore Stephens Markhams in early 2015. At this time, Peter focused wholly on the Moore Stephens audit firms in Wellington, Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay.

Abbey Warner joined the firm in 2003, after graduating from Victoria University. In 2015, on Peter’s retirement, Abbey took over his business advisory clients and became Bruce Stormer’s new partner.

Mitch Czudaj was his partner in the audit firms (joining in 1996 as manager) and, along with Michael Rania, who joined the Wellington firm as partner in 2015, continues in ownership of the Wellington and Wairarapa practices.

In his retirement speech, Peter acknowledged the activities that he took particular pleasure in – learning to sail in the Marlborough Sounds with his Mason King colleagues; motor car racing at Manfeild; attending conferences with his international colleagues in Athens, London, San Francisco, Rarotonga, Sydney and Melbourne, being some notable ones. “It is a great experience to meet others from around the world who share our profession,” Peter recalled.

Peter is acknowledged by his colleagues for his patience and his willingness to teach and share his considerable knowledge; of being a very hard worker; his humility and integrity; and for being unflappable “being so laid back that he was horizontal”.

A daily ritual for Peter was his favoured cheese and crackers and joining in the team’s attempt at The Dominion Post daily trivia quiz at lunch time.

The ‘caring, family, friendly environment’ of the Wellington firms have been cultivated and role-modelled by Peter over his many years and are his legacy. Peter’s many clients also comment on how much they valued his advice and counsel.

Outside of work, Peter volunteered many hours with the scouting movement, with SPELD, and in Church activities. He had a keen interest in motoring and cars, cycling (he cycled to work most days and competed in the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge 15 times), landscaping and gardening, and travelling including a penchant for the Italian language.

A loving family man, Peter is survived by his wife Elisabeth, his three children and their partners, and his grandchildren.

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