New appointments to Commerce Commission

The Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister and Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister, Kris Faafoi, has today announced the appointment of Tristan Gilbertson as the new Telecommunications Commissioner and member of the Commerce Commission.

“Mr Gilbertson has considerable experience in the telecommunications industry and a strong reputation amongst his peers,” Mr Faafoi said.

“I believe his experience will complement the Commission’s needs and will be well-suited to a role that remains vital to the success of the industry.”

Mr Gilbertson has worked in the telecommunications legal and regulatory space for over 25 years and he has held executive leadership positions with Vodafone Group Plc, Telecom New Zealand Ltd, and Digicel Group Ltd.

He has been appointed for a five year term, beginning on 8 June 2020, taking over from outgoing Commissioner, Dr Stephen Gale.

Dr Gale was first appointed as the Telecommunications Commissioner in 2012. During that time the role has included assessing the business mobile market for competitive constraints and implementing the Telecommunications Development Levy.

“I thank Dr Gale for the leadership and expertise he has demonstrated as the Telecommunications Commissioner for almost eight years,” Mr Faafoi said.

Today’s announcement also includes the appointment of Dr John Small as a member of the Commerce Commission.

Currently an associate member of the Commission, Dr Small has extensive expertise and experience in competition and regulatory economics.

He is the Founding Director of Covec, an economic consultancy firm, and a former Head of the University of Auckland’s Economics Department.

“Dr Small has made a valuable contribution to the Commission’s work as an associate member, particularly on the recent Retail Fuel Market Study. He brings a wealth of experience to the Commission,” said Mr Faafoi.

Dr Small has also been appointed for a five year term. He will replace outgoing Commerce Commission member Dr Jill Walker.

“I would like to thank Dr Walker for the commitment and economic expertise she has brought to the Commerce Commission, and particularly the significant contribution she has made to trans-Tasman coordination for the enforcement of competition law,” Mr Faafoi said.


Tristan Gilbertson is a corporate and commercial lawyer with extensive international experience in telecommunications law and regulation.

After an early career in private practice, he was appointed Legal & Regulatory Director – Asia-Pacific at Vodafone Group Plc, where he was closely involved in Vodafone’s expansion into Japan, China and India as well as existing operations in Australia and New Zealand.

He then joined Telecom New Zealand Ltd where he was Group General Counsel and played a leading role in the structural separation of Telecom and the re-set of the regulatory framework.

Most recently, he has been Group General Counsel of Digicel Group Ltd, where he focused on transformation and change across Digicel’s 32 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and Asia-Pacific regions.

Dr John Small has been an associate member of the Commerce Commission, appointed on 17 December 2018 for a period of three years. Since his appointment, he has made a valuable contribution to the Commerce Commission’s work, including the recent Retail Fuel Market Study and numerous competition merger cases.

Dr Small is the Founding Director of Covec, an economic consultancy firm, and the former Head of the University of Auckland’s Economics Department. He has extensive experience undertaking complex competition analysis in a wide range of sectors, including energy, agriculture, telecommunications, banking, and construction. Prior to his appointment in 2018, he was a lay member of the High Court of New Zealand, and was also frequently called as an expert witness before courts, tribunals, and commissions.

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