• About me

    I’m Max Rashbrooke, and I write about economic inequality and democratic renewal. I also write arts profiles and review concerts and books.

    For publicity purposes, the following is my short bio:

    Max Rashbrooke is a Wellington-based writer with twin interests in economic inequality and democratic participation, and is currently the 2020 J D Stout Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington. He is the author of Government for the Public Good: The Surprising Science of Large-Scale Collective Action, published by Bridget Williams Books (BWB) in September 2018. He is also the author of Wealth and New Zealand, and edited the best-selling work Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis. He is a senior associate of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, his work appears in outlets such as the Guardian and Prospect magazine, and he is a regular commentator in the New Zealand media.


    Contact details


    M: 022 694 0871

    T: Follow me on Twitter

    N: Sign-up to my mailing list


    Senior associate, IGPS

    I am a senior associate at the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, in the School of Government at Victoria University, Wellington. Most of my research has focused on income and wealth inequality, and open government. Recent academic publications include:

    I have also carried out research contracts for public inquiries, government working parties and a range of commercial and not-for-profit organisations.


    Renewal of democracy

    My most recent publication is Government for the Public Good: The Surprising Science of Large-Scale Collective Action, published by Bridget Williams Books (BWB) in September 2018. Details about it can be found here.


    Economic inequality

    I have edited a major work, Inequality: A New Zealand Crisispublished by Bridget Williams Books (BWB) in 2013 and republished in updated form in late 2018. I have also written The Inequality Debate: an Introduction (2014) and Wealth and New Zealand (2015). The three books have generated widespread media coverage and helped foster a rapidly growing conversation about income inequality. I also maintain a resource site about inequality in New Zealand and write on the issue at The Good Society. Elsewhere I helped develop the highly popular Inequality Calculator, which allows individuals to see exactly where they stand on the income ladder relative to other New Zealanders. I was also the recipient of a 2015 Winston Churchill Fellowship to examine the UK debates around poverty and inequality. More details of my work on inequality can be found here.



    As a journalist, I write for the Guardian and other international publications, as well as New Zealand media including the Herald, the NBR and Metro. I have twice been the recipient of the Bruce Jesson Senior Journalism Award, in 2011 and 2014. My arts reviews and profiles are written largely for Scoop, and I have previously reviewed for outlets including Time Out in the UK.


    Public speaking and hosting

    I am a frequent public speaker on a range of topics, recent appearances including a 2019 series of talks on taxing wealth with Lisa Marriott. I am also available to host panel sessions and debates. Recent engagements include chairing a panel at the launch of Sylvia Nissen’s BWB Text Student Political Action in New Zealand. I am also a regular commentator on inequality and government reform in domestic and international media.


    Declaration of interests

    Ongoing: I have given, and continue to give, paid talks on economic inequality and democratic renewal to a wide range of organisations, including PriceWaterhouseCoopers, AMP, Z Energy, First Union, and the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research.

    2020: My principal income currently derives from my J. D. Stout fellowship.

    2019: My major contracts have included a report on the socio-economic factors underlying the placement of children into care, for the Royal Commission on Child Abuse; and assisting the Trade for All Advisory Board with the writing of its final report.

    2016-2018: My time working on a book about the renewal of democracy was funded by a grant from the Gama Foundation.

    2013-2016: I carried out research contracts for organisations including the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services, the Green Party, the Council of Trade Unions and the Equality Network.

    2011-2013: My work on a book about economic inequality was supported by grants from the G Trust, the J R McKenzie Trust, and the Bruce Jesson Foundation.

    General: I am not a member, paid employee or office holder of any political party or campaigning organisation.

    7 Responses to About me

    1. June 22, 2013 at 11:07 pm

      Just lucky I read the Herald or would not have noticed anything about the positive things about the work been done re: inequality and poverty etc.
      Thanks is hardly enough to know people like you Max exist to highlight the many many issues.
      Successive governments and businesses have let this erosion of human spirit and well being and when I see debates etc on TV, I cringe at so many with so many views but who is really walking the talk?
      Charities and churches have actively taken on the task of doing what they can but not so those who have the power to make a difference.
      Yesterday and husband and wife picked up my 30 year old bed to deliver a queen size bed to a family in Glen Innes who have no beds at all.
      They have 4 children and she from St Iganatius Church in St Heliers feed over a 100 children a week
      breakfast in Glen Innes schools.
      On Friday, I delivered 3 checks to 3 neighbourhood schools from St Pauls Methodist Church in Remuera
      to help children in need. We fundraise every month.
      We have too many politicians who appear on TV but I dont see them walking the talk.
      I too have mys story. I wanted a brillaint job to support my children after their father died but only every
      managed to do relief work. even finishing a degree it wasnt possible.
      This problem of inequality is not new.
      Well being and the spirit has eroded and where and when will do we expect to see a turnaround?

    2. June 1, 2016 at 11:35 pm

      Barber once said: “ah, but you do not bite!”

      June 25, 2017 at 2:10 am

      Dear Mr. Rushbrooke,

      You must have seen a different production of “Carmen” to what I saw in Wellington. In all my years of opera going around the world and seeing it performed by many of the greatest singers, orchestras and conductors what was wrong with this one?
      First it was boring and the much aclaimed lighting was as effictive as a Toch H lamp. Carmen was excellent but felt in this production there was a much better one waiting to escape. Escamillo looked like a funeral director who wouldn’t put the fear into any bull. Tom Randle has been singing too much baroque and modern operahas taken its toll on his voice. For once Micaela didn’t look as if she’d wandered in from “La Boheme”.Orchestra Wellington was in splendid form and found myself listening to them in the Flower Song. The conductor was fine except for letting the endings of ACTS 1 & 2 slacken.The flower(s) in Act One looked as if they’d come from a $2 shop.
      Not Lindy Hume at her best I’m afraid. There are so many other negative points I could make but I’ve already heard them from others. You are right about the French.
      My first ever “Carmen” was sung in English at Covent Garden in 1960 conducted by Rudolf Kempe with that fine American mezzo Gloria Lane. Italian/American tenor Arturo Sergi whom I then heard many times later in Germany was Done Jose. Joan Carlyle, a memorable Micaela. A young Thomas Stewart was the vibrant Escamillo. I don’t remember the production but all I knew of the opera was represented on stage.

      I wish NZ Opera had staged “Carmen Jones”.

      • Max Rashbrooke
        Max Rashbrooke
        June 25, 2017 at 2:29 am

        Thanks for the response (though it’s Rashbrooke, not Rushbrooke). Some things of course are a matter of taste; on other points you might well have a better eye for detail than I do. Scoop isn’t a specialist classical music site, so I tend to concentrate on the broad brush. Also I review classical music partly to remind the general public that it exists! An important issue, given the dwindling number of reviews elsewhere …

    4. John
      October 13, 2017 at 1:51 am

      Hi Max, would you consider adding another couple of paragraphs to your “About Me” to explain the background to your interest in inequality? I could be confusing you with someone else but I heard an interview on the radio one time with someone I think must have been you, and what stuck out was the plumb accent (and I don’t mean that offensively). I thought to myself why isn’t a chap with a background that produces an accent like that busy trying to enrich himself and convince the rest of us that the top tax bracket should be halved? – I thought, there’s a story there. So it would be interesting to just get a bit of an insight into how you turned out with the concerns you have, rather than the sort of ‘every man for himself’ beliefs I was stereotyping from the way you spoke (speak, if I have the right person!). No offence intended, this is a genuine inquiry. I understand if you wish to be entirely known by your work and don’t want to shed any light on that. In my case I’m extremely well off, and the simple explanation for my social conscience is that it wasn’t always so, and the experience of tough times has been indelible.

      Best Regards

    5. Anita
      December 28, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      Have you ever looked at the scenario where New Zealanders who have been responsible and saved for retirement only to have those savings seriously eroded when one partner has to receive hospital care (in my case my husband had a massive stroke followed by high level dementia) with annual fees payable of $55,000. As the remaining partner I have had to cancel my health insurance and downgrade my lifestyle enormously as I also care for a brain damaged son (the result of an accident) and am aware that WINZ will insist that I sell the flat I purchased for him in order to pay my husband’s fees. I note many of the hospital residents are totally subsidised because they don’t have the funds to pay. How fair and equal is this?

    6. Rob C
      December 19, 2018 at 1:56 am

      Re Anita, many nz laws allow inequality, with non nz s getting help from tax pool when nz born seniors are struggling, Rashbrooke would do well to ponder such occurrences such as; A senior Labour minister from Auckland, toured Auckland resthomes to determine the abuse of migration law , which allows migrants granted work visas ( which can become nz residency) to invite their parents to nz , so many times can be 2 sets. Then the original migrants, remigrate, mainly to Australia leaving their non English speaking parents in nz in limbo. Govt and Phil Goff refuse to provide the numbers.
      But everyone could be costing $200 day, so Anita above , who possibly a 40 yr plus taxpayer is denied her life as a senior , as she had anticipated.

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