Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Clark's aide home to marry partner



Heather Simpson, the long-term assistant of former prime minister Helen Clark who was once known as H2, has returned from New York to marry her partner, Sue Veart, in Wellington.

The pair were joined in a civil union at their home in Wadestown yesterday, in a ceremony reportedly attended by about 45 close friends and family. Clark was not present.

When she worked for Clark in the Beehive, Simpson was known as "the second-most powerful woman in New Zealand", or "H2". Clark once joked that Simpson was actually the most powerful woman in the country.

Simpson has been working for Clark in New York since the former prime minister took over as head of the United Nations Development Programme in April. Veart, who recently quit after 10 years in managerial jobs at Porirua City Council, will join her long-term partner there.

Simpson had a formidable reputation as a member of the inner circle of power and a person who did not suffer fools gladly. A former economist, she has worked for Clark in various roles for more than 20 years.

She is the fourth of seven children in a large and close-knit family from Southland. Although her public reputation is stern, she is known as a loving aunt and sister, and her wider family flocked to the ceremony.

Simpson did not initially want to move to New York to work for Clark, but "her arm was twisted", according to those who know her. One acquaintance said she believed the civil union would make it easier for Veart to live in the US.

Clark's government brought in civil unions as an alternative to marriage.

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