Professor Gemmell has held the inaugural Chair in Public Finance role at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington since 2011.
Professor Gemmell has studied, worked, and taught around the world. He trained as an economist at Durham University, England, where he also held his first academic post. He has been a research fellow at The Australian National University in Canberra, a reader in development economics at the University of Nottingham and has worked in advisory roles for the United Kingdom Inland Revenue department and the New Zealand Treasury, where he was also chief economist.
Professor Gemmell says, “The creation of the Chair in Public Finance allowed me to return to my ‘first love’—research in the field of public economics and taxation.”
He considers the improvement of the university’s international research rating one of the biggest achievements during his time in the role. He also praises “the significant improvements to the Wellington School of Business and Government’s main capital resource, Rutherford House”.
Professor Gemmell’s major research interest has been around how taxpayers respond to changes in the taxes they face, and he says that one of the most enjoyable aspects of his role as Chair of Public Finance was working with the National party’s Finance Minister, Bill English (2011-2016).
Professor Jane Bryson, Acting Dean, Wellington School of Business and Government, praised Professor Gemmell’s smart, engaging personality, noting the “twinkle in his eye”.
She says, “We are going to miss Norman as a very congenial colleague and great public academic. We were so lucky to keep him here at the Wellington School of Business and Government for a decade, spearheading the Chair of Public Finance, establishing enduring relationships with a broad range of government agencies, producing great research of academic and policy relevance, and nurturing the development of other researchers. He also provided an important, independent voice on issues in public finance and economics.”
In his retirement, Professor Gemmell looks forward to “doing something completely different” from his academic research and public engagement work and has already made plans to walk the remaining sections of the 630-mile South West Coast Path in England with his son, who lives in the area.