PR industry stalwart Joseph Peart ends battle with cancer

It is with deep regret that PRINZ notes the passing of Life Member, Fellow and former President Joseph Peart, on Friday 7 February 2014.

Dubbed ‘The Godfather’, Joseph was widely known for caring deeply about the public relations profession and the people who work in it, and was regarded with affection by public relations practitioners throughout the country. He firmly believed that effective public relations and communication improves society, and that skilled public relations practitioners play a key part in the way New Zealanders get the right information to make good decisions. For him, it was a simple extension that practitioners must be equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to bring wider benefits to the communities they serve.

PRINZ President Pauline Rose says that Joseph was a leading figure in the industry, known for his quirky personality that let him cross the boundaries between corporate PR and academia while enjoying the respect of both. 

“More importantly he was seen as the chief architect of modern professional public relations in New Zealand. His legacy is that he actively fostered the ethical practice of public relations while at the same time creating an educational environment where practitioners could gain qualifications and expertise. He was regarded as the ‘glue’ who linked together young, up-and-coming PR people with established industry players.

“Joseph led by education and example, marrying theory and practice. He spent 15 years in corporate and consultancy public relations before joining the Auckland Institute of Technology, and used the knowledge and experience gained in this work and from his own studies to co-write The New Zealand Handbook of Public Relations – a text book used by most New Zealand public relations students since it was published in 1987.”

Joseph was a programme leader at the Auckland University of Technology from 1986, starting a Public Relations certificate course and developing it into a degree course within four years. 1993 saw the first graduates from the AIT Bachelor of Communication Studies majoring in Public Relations.

His innovative and experiential approach to teaching methods resulted in the establishment of ‘Outside the Square’ a pro-bono consultancy run by final year and post-graduate students to provide counsel and support to not-for-profits in New Zealand. As a result, hundreds of charities have been helped to achieve their goals for the betterment of society as well as providing a real and valuable opportunity for students to test their mettle, with many of the student teams producing award-winning public relations programmes for the not-for-profits concerned and allowing those organisations to raise funds, build profile, advance causes and gain support.

Joseph also designed the PRINZ professional development programme and introduced the accreditation examination for practitioners (APR – Accredited Public Relations) which has become a respected and recognised qualification in the profession in New Zealand.

In 1989, Joseph was invited to Singapore to help with the development of the public relations diploma at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and in recent years he lectured in Europe on public relations and communications programmes.

Throughout his working life, Joseph devoted a great deal of voluntary time to the development and growth of PRINZ, the main representative organisation for public relations practitioners in New Zealand. Joseph joined PRINZ in 1972, was PRINZ President (1987-1988), he was made Fellow in 1986 and a Life Member in 1995, for ‘significant service’.  He was awarded the PRINZ President’s Prize twice, for services to education and professional development. 

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