Passionate and respected Auckland leader mourned by council whānau

Kua hinga he totara i te wao nui a Tane - A totara has fallen in the forest of Tane

Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland has lost one of its most passionate and highly respected advocates with the sudden passing of Mark Franklin, Chair of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited – the region’s economic development and cultural agency.

Mark became Chair of Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED) in November 2018, then Chair of the newly merged entity Auckland Unlimited (now Tātaki Auckland Unlimited) from September 2020 – while working in his long-time role as Managing Director of Stevenson Group.

Mark was receiving cancer treatment in Australia when he passed away.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown said: “Mark was a highly regarded leader in both the private and public sectors who made an outstanding contribution to the people of Auckland – both as an executive and director of some of this region’s most important infrastructure organisations.

“Our thoughts are first and foremost with his family and loved ones as they mourn his passing, and with the team at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited who have lost their much-respected chairperson,” Mayor Brown said.

Nick Hill, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Chief Executive, paid tribute to Mark today.

“Mark was a strong personality who filled any room he was in. His passion for people, for Auckland, and for the work we do was an inspiration – and powerful motivation for me and for many of those who worked with him at ATEED and Tātaki Auckland Unlimited.

“There were important occasions where his mana and direct style provided the confidence to all around him to make big decisions and to see them through. Mark had a deep respect for Mana Whenua, Te Ao Māori, Te Tiriti o Waitangi jurisprudence and developing models of co-governance.

“For us, the legacy of his leadership lives on in the organisation which he played a huge role in shaping.

“Mark had been looking forward to completing his treatment and reconnecting with his colleagues in Auckland, so his loss is a shock. Our thoughts and aroha are with Mark’s wife Michelle and their children.”


Mark had extensive commercial and governance experience, and strong contacts and networks within local and central government. Prior to joining Stevenson Group, he was founding Chief Executive of TZ1 – NZX’s global carbon registry – and Chief Executive of Vector.  

He was a former chair of the Committee for Auckland, and at various times held directorships at Kiwirail, WEL Networks, Ultrafast Broadband, Auckland Chamber of Commerce, and Stevenson Group.
Mark had a strong sense of public service, with a focus on Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s success, which in the past saw him involved with an Auckland Mayoral Housing Taskforce, and a Deputy Mayor Industry Leaders Council.
He was also a respected figure within central government circles, having been a member of a previous administration’s Prime Minister’s Climate Change Leadership Forum, and the Australia New Zealand Joint Prime Ministers Leadership Forum.

Jennah Wootten has been Acting Chair of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited while Mark received treatment, and she will continue in that role alongside the rest of the board which will continue to govern Tātaki Auckland Unlimited through this time of loss and sadness.