Neil, MNZM, has a background in public service and arts administration. After graduating M.A. in history from Victoria University of Wellington he spent 20 years with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs serving in Apia, Washington DC, Rome and Canberra. He was then for many years Chief Executive of the New Zealand Tourist Department. In both agencies he engaged with the promotion of New Zealand art and culture overseas, a subject in which he retains an ongoing interest.
He is currently Chairman of the Wellington Sculpture Trust, which has installed 18 prominent public sculptures in Wellington during his 12 year term, Chairman of the PATA NZ (tourism) Trust, trustee of the New Zealand Art Show/Affordable Arts Trust, member of the Nelson Sculpture Trust Assessment Panel and other art related organisations. He is a former President of the New Zealand Book Council, Chairman of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation and Deputy Chairman of the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute at Rotorua. He was awarded the 1990 Commemorative Medal for services to tourism.