UK MP murdered

June 17th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

British Labour MP Jo Cox has died after being shot and stabbed in her constituency in northern England on Thursday afternoon (Friday morning, NZ Time).

Cox was attacked on Market Street in Birstall, near Leeds, about 12.50pm as she prepared to hold a meeting with constituents.

A 77-year-old man was also attacked, but his injuries were not life-threatening.

Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two, was rushed to hospital in a critical condition, but was pronounced dead at 1.48pm, police said.

Police arrested a 52-year-old man nearby, and recovered weapons, including a firearm.

British media have named the man arrested in connection with the attack as Thomas Mair.

The Telegraph reported Mair lived on a council estate in Bridsall.

A neighbour told the UK paper Mair was a “quiet bloke who keeps to himself”.

Her family, friends and colleagues will be devastated.

The motive for the attack was not yet known.

A large number of police remained near the scene of the attack, and were speaking to many witnesses, Temporary Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police Dee Collins said.

At least one witness heard the suspect shout “Britain First” – the name of a right-wing, anti-immigrant group – before the shooting and during the arrest, Sky News and the Guardian reported.

Cox had been campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union, but it was not immediately clear whether the attack was related.

Britain First denied any link to the shooting on their website, saying “Britain First obviously is NOT involved and would never encourage behaviour of this sort”.

Too early to know whether the attack was politically motivated, or the assailant was just mad – or both.  But for now, a husband has lost his wife, and two children their mother.

RIP Sir Graham Latimer

June 10th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reported:

Prominent Maori leader and former National vice president Sir Graham Latimer has died, aged 90, after suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Sir Graham Stanley Latimer’s leadership was key in progressing Maori rights and addressing historic grievances.

He was involved with the New Zealand Maori Council for nearly 40 years, much of his tenure was as president, and he was one of the first three members of the Waitangi Tribunal. …

Shane Jones, now Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development, described Latimer as a “mentor for our generation”.

“He was steadfast to a global Maori view about the trajectory that we should follow, but more importantly he was extremely patriotic to his country that he served in the second world war.

“He was a pragmatist, very few people would know that. He agreed to help push for the decriminalisation of marijuana.”

Latimer’s litigation and broadcasting leadership helped Maori to flourish, said Jones: “His efforts changed the face of New Zealand.”

Jones would remember Latimer’s restlessness to achieve, and his words: “Don’t stand around son, holding the shovel at the hangi pit. Get out and find fresh prey.”

I met Sir Graham when I was around 18, in 1986. He was the Maori Vice-President of the National Party but was very happy to spend time chatting to a Young National on Maori and Treaty issues.

There are arguably few in Maoridom who worked as hard as he did to try and achieve better outcomes for his people.

RIP The Greatest

June 5th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

RIP Muhammad Ali. He was and is The Greatest. The only other boxed who I think came close in terms of dominance was Mike Tyson at his peak.

Prince is dead

April 22nd, 2016 at 5:52 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Pop superstar Prince has died at home in the United States, aged 57.

The ‘Purple Rain’ singer – full name Prince Rogers Nelson – was found dead at a compound in Paisley Park, Minnesota on Thursday morning (local time), his publicist Yvette Noel-Schure confirmed.

Sad so many of the great artists die so young.

His full name was Prince Rogers Nelson. At one stage his name was Prince logo.svg.

Chris Bishop on Martin Crowe

March 8th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Like many people of my generation, Martin Crowe was the best NZ batsman I could recall.  I was away tramping when he died, and wanted to say a few words, but cricket fan Chis Bishop has made a great post which I’ll just copy:

Martin Crowe was my childhood hero. Almost every boy growing up in NZ has one; Martin Crowe was mine. I missed seeing Crowe in his mid-1980s pomp – I was just two when he tore Australia apart at the Gabba in 1985 after Hadlee had taken 9/52 – and so my earliest memories of him are in the 1990s.

Like many Kiwis the 1992 World Cup is indelibly burned into my mind. I watched every ball of the first match against Australia. England had spanked us 3-0 going into the tournament. Hopes were not high for a New Zealand victory. But on that sunny, heady, day at Eden Park Crowe and his band of trundlers and journeymen played like world-beaters. I watched every ball of Crowe’s 100 not out. He drove McDermott down the ground straight, he pulled Tom Moody to the (very short) boundary behind square-leg, and did it again, and again. In the final over, he back-cut Steve Waugh behind square to get his century, and the crowd invaded the field. He had lit up the World Cup; inspired a team; and made a nation believe. Three hours later Larsen and Latham (!) had strangled Australia’s batsmen on the slow, low pitch, Harris ran out Boon with a 30 m side on throw from deep-wicket, and we had won. I wrote about it in my standard two class notebook, and I kept it for years and years.

After that game the nation went nuts. I can still picture where I was for every game. Our cousins in Upper Hutt for a summer Barbie when we beat England. At home, watching Greatbatch deposit Brian McMillan onto the roof of the biggest stand at Eden Park, chasing down South Africa’s 192 in 25 overs. At another set of cousins’, watching with disbelief as Greatbatch charged Malcolm Marshall and Curtly Ambrose (!) and hit them for six over deep extra cover. Dipak opening the bowling against Pakistan. Through it all Crowe was the master – almost impossible to get out when batting, directing things in the field, chivvying his young and enthusiastic team, daring to dream that New Zealand could do the almost unthinkable.

I used to keep a scrapbook of cricket news clippings. I would carefully cut out articles of interest from the Dominion and the Evening Post (separate papers in those days) and paste them into a big scrapbook. I can still picture the large article published the day after Crowe and Jones’ epic partnership in 1991 at the Basin Reserve. There’s a photo of Crowe and Jones with their wives, glasses of champagne in their hands, tired but happy looks on their faces. The scorecard for the test. The list of records broken by their massive partnership. For years and years in my backyard cricket games I would replicate Crowe’s innings – the cautious start, the resolute desire to Just. Not. Get. Out, then the slow build through the 100s as the bowlers got tired and the partnership grew and grew, then the freedom that came in the 200s, sixes off de Silva, breaking Turner’s 259 record, and then getting to 299. What to do? Obviously not the run past the keeper Crowe played. An off-drive? A clip off the legs? Push for one? I always scored 300. Crowe didn’t, and he later wrote about the anger, the agony, the pain. And the redemption, of sorts, when McCullum did it on the same ground, years later.

So many memories.

In his autobiography Crowe talks about the mental demons that come with being a cricketer, a batsmen in particular. One mistake and you’re out. That’s it. Sometimes when you don’t even make a mistake, you get dismissed. The ball that you just have to play outside off that takes the edge – out. The ball that cannons into the stumps when you’re backing up at the other end, with the bowler’s minute touch – out. The bouncer that so discombobulates you the ball ends up in short-leg’s hands off your bat – out. Cricket is a tough, tough game mentally, if not particularly physically. Crowe writes of the fear of failure; the fear of getting out, of missing your opportunity to score runs, to contribute. In schoolboy cricket you only get one chance to bat every Saturday. You don’t want to waste it. I used to try and channel Crowe when I batted – obviously the elegance and the strokemaking (at least an attempt) – but specifically his tricks for dealing with stress. Imagine your best ever innings and replicating that today. Remember how you felt when you were batting. Replicate that today. Get in the same zone. Remember the shots. Replicate. Watch the ball. Replicate. Score runs. Watch the ball. Score.

Later when I did a lot of debating, I used to try and channel Crowe again before giving a speech. Remember that speech you gave three years ago that won that debate? Replicate that. Remember how you felt then? Do it again. Remember the audience response? Do it again. Channel past greatness to inspire current greatness

Crowe was my first idol. The guy I wanted to bat like, to be like, to lead like.

Because I never said it when I got the chance – thanks Martin.

RIP Nancy Reagan

March 7th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Nancy Reagan, the helpmate, backstage adviser and fierce protector of Ronald Reagan in his journey from actor to president – and finally during his 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease – has died. She was 94.

The former first lady died Sunday at her home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles of congestive heart failure, assistant Allison Borio told The Associated Press.

I wasn’t a great fan of her influence in the Reagan White House, but I was a huge fan of her dedication to Ronald Reagan – especially over the ten years of his Alzheimer’s battle.

RIP Antonin Scalia

February 14th, 2016 at 11:20 am by David Farrar

My SA reports:

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said.

Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa.

According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.

I heard Scalia speak in Wellington a few years ago. A razor sharp mind and someone whose impact on legal thinking has been profound.

As sad as the death is for his family and friends personally, the focus will of course be on the politics of a replacement. An Obama nominee would give the liberal wing a 5-4 majority on the court.

For this reason I suspect the Republican majority in the Senate will either not put his nominee to the vote (if they are qualified) or vote them down.

This means that the vacancy will be filled by the next President. If it is Clinton she will get the first liberal majority court in a generation. This makes the election ever higher stakes than normal.

RIP Bob Tizard

January 29th, 2016 at 7:12 am by David Farrar

Radio NZ report:

Former Labour deputy prime minister Bob Tizard has died. He was 91.

Mr Tizard was a Member of Parliament for 31 years and served under six Labour prime ministers. He held several cabinet portfolios and was deputy prime minister to Bill Rowling. He was one of Labour’s most effective MPs, aggressive, well-briefed, with a superb memory and a first-class debater.

Robert James Tizard was born in Auckland in 1924 and educated at Auckland Grammar School. He served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in World War II before studying at Auckland University, where he gained an MA Honours in History.

He taught at the university and at secondary schools until he won the Tamaki seat for Labour in 1957. He lost the seat only three years later, to Robert Muldoon.

Mr Tizard returned to Parliament in a by-election in Otahuhu in early 1963 and remained MP for the area through a number of boundary and name changes until he retired in 1990. His daughter, Judith, succeeded him in what was then the seat of Panmure.

Tizard remained politically active well into his late 80s.

He was one of the few in Parliament who could stand up to Muldoon.

Labour lost the 1975 election and Mr Tizard spent the next nine years in opposition. The party then swept back in the 1984 snap election and he became minister of energy.

In the government’s second term, he was given defence and pushed through the controversial decision to buy two Anzac frigates.

A hugely controversial but correct decision.

Mr Tizard was seen as a compassionate man who hid his concern beneath an abrasive exterior, and he was notoriously frank. He once described the Treasury as “economists gone berserk” and gave the government a foreign policy headache when he said – after the death of Japan’s Emperor Hirohito – that the emperor should have been chopped to pieces for his role in the war.

A view shared by many veterans.

His death leaves (I think) Roger Douglas as the only surviving member (minister) of the 3rd Labour Government.

As always condolences to family and friends of Mr Tizard.

RIP David Bowie

January 12th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Saddened to read that David Bowie has died, and surprised to realise he was 69 years old.

I recall especially well his single The Laughing Gnome, as that was my nickname at school!

Also thought he made a great goblin king in Labyrinth.

An incredibly versatile and enduring entertainer. He will be missed.

RIP Jon Gadsby

December 13th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Tributes are flowing for legendary New Zealand comedian and actor Jon Gadsby who has died.

The 62-year-old’s family revealed in October he was battling cancer and those closest to him were rallying around. Fans and former colleagues of Gadsby took to social media to post tributes.

Peter Rowley, who starred with Gadsby on several popular Kiwi TV productions, including McPhail and Gadsby, posted on Facebook: “RIP Jono … “Added Dave Ward: “RIP Jon Gadsby. True Kiwi entertainment came from true Kiwis teaching us that it’s okay to laugh at ourselves. Thoughts and prayers Peter Rowley, and to his family and friends. Arohanui.”

We’ve lost one of our great comics.

I grew up on McPhail and Gadsby and A Week of It. Satirical comedy was relatively new to New Zealand TV, and McPhail and Gadsby was a cultural icon of the times. It had huge viewership.

RIP Jonah Lomu 1975 – 2015

November 18th, 2015 at 4:10 pm by David Farrar

His 37 tries for the All Blacks. My favourites are the four against England on 18 June 1995.

Such a sad loss. 40 is far too young.

A culinary loss

November 1st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Giuseppe Malaponti, the charismatic Wellington maitre d’ and restaurateur, has died from liver cancer. He was 53.

Malaponti had dedicated much of his life to making sure others were having a good time, from serving the likes of Elton John, Princess Diana and Freddie Mercury at Le Caprice in London, as maitre d’ during Il Casino’s heyday, front of house at Hummingbird, and his own restaurant, MariLuca Ristoro.

I didn’t even know he was ill.

MariLuca Ristoro is one of my favourite restaurants in Wellington and arguable one of the best Italian restaurants in New Zealand. Great food, great wine and charming service. Giuseppe was a major part of that.

Malaponti, who was from Riva Di Chieri near the northern Italian city of Turin, was seconded to run the front of house for John Coleman’s Hummingbird restaurant when it opened in 2000.

His reputation preceded him in terms of front of house, and he had it “in spades, making people comfortable and [offering] service with a smile, always”, Coleman said.

Malaponti, who went on to open his own traditional Italian restaurant, MariLuca Ristoro, spoke modestly about his maitre d’ strengths when interviewed a few months ago, but said welcoming was very important.

“That smile, that approach, already wins you half the game. What you need is the food to be good, the rest is all done, and then you build friendship and trust.”

Malaponti, who died on Wednesday night at the Mary Potter Hospice, is survived by partner Isabel and children Marina, 15, and Gianluca, 12. 

Very sad for them. He was a real character.

RIP Sir James Belich

September 15th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Former Wellington mayor Sir James Belich has died at the age of 88.

He was surrounded by family when he died on Sunday night after a short battle with Alzheimer’s.

“He died at home,” son-in-law, Colin Feslier said. “Shortly before his death he managed one of his last sentences, ‘I think I have had a good life’.”

Belich won the Wellington mayoralty in 1986 on the back of a campaign to end the practice of discharging raw sewage into the sea along the south coast.He brought a Labour majority with him on to council, which was a first for the capital city.

He held on to the mayoral chains until 1992, steering Wellington through a period of recession by encouraging investment in public works such as an extension to the Kilbirnie pool and the development of Civic Square. …

Belich was born in Awanui, Northland, to immigrants from the Dalmatian island of Korcula, off the coast of Croatia.

He studied at Otahuhu College, where he became head boy, before attending both Auckland University and Victoria University.

He spent a decade doing consular work in Auckland and Sydney, and forged a successful career in advertising before becoming mayor.

Belich was also an active member of the United Nations Association and was the founding president of Unicef New Zealand.

Belich was the third Wellington Mayor I recall – after Sir Michael Fowler and Ian Lawrence. Condolences to his family and friends.

RIP George Gair

August 19th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Long-serving National MP George Gair has died aged 88.

Gair was the MP for Auckland’s North Shore from 1966 to 1990, holding senior Cabinet posts, including Health, Transport, Energy, Housing and Rail.

He was also deputy leader of the National Party.

George Gair was a lovely man, and one of National’s best MPs of his generation. His politeness was legendary, and a real contrast to Muldoon.

RIP Les Munro

August 5th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Brave and principled but compassionate and unassuming – Les Munro was the sort of Kiwi character many talk about but few live up to.

With his death on Tuesday New Zealand lost one of the greatest of a generation that put service before self.

In conflict he bravely gave service to his country in the one of the most daring raids of WWII with the Dambusters.

In peace he gave decades of service to his small community and then stood up to help when his wartime mates were in danger of being forgotten.

Prime Minister John Key said New Zealand has “lost a remarkable man who led a remarkable life” with the passing of Munro, the last remaining Dambuster from the RAF 617 Squadron.

Munro died in Tauranga Hospital on Tuesday at 6.15am.

“I was honoured to meet Les Munro in person when I attended the presentation of his medals to Motat just a few months ago,” Key said.

“His contribution to his country and his generosity will not be forgotten,” he said.

Sad he has died. He seemed quite spry and active at the ceremony to hand his medals over to MOTAT.

I honour both his service in WWII, but his spirit of generosity in wanting to sell his medals to fund the British war memorial to his colleagues.

RIP Craig Norgate

July 8th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The ex-chief executive of Fonterra, Craig Norgate, has died in the UK at the age of 50. …

Fonterra chairman John Wilson said: “It’s deeply upsetting to hear of Craig’s passing and our thoughts go out to his wife Jane, and children Dylan, Alexandria and Jordan.

“Craig played a key role in the formation of Fonterra and made a significant contribution to the Co-operative as our first CEO, helping bring together key players in the New Zealand dairy industry with the strategic vision he was known for. He remained a close and trusted friend and mentor to many of our people. …

“Craig had an outstanding career and, notwithstanding the heights of that career, he still remained firmly of the belief he was a boy from the ‘Naki.”

After Fonterra, Norgate was head of PGG Wrightson for six years.

Born in Hawera in 1965, he focused his career on the dairy industry after leaving school. 

After studying at Massey University he moved to Hastings and took up his first management role at the Department of Maori Affairs at age 21. 

He was there a year before returning to Taranaki with meat company Lowe Walker in 1987. He rose through the ranks quickly and then worked for a subsidiary of the Dairy Board, the Lactose Company, becoming CFO within six months. 

He then took over as general manager of Kiwi Dairy, a role his father had held with the company. He stayed for 10 years, with the company’s turnover growing from $285 million to $4.4 billion before the creation of the dairy giant Fonterra in 2001.

Norgate was a former director of the New Zealand Rugby Football Union, from 2000 to 2002, and was co-opted onto the Taranaki Rugby Football Union in 2004, serving for 10 years until Taranaki shifted allegiance to the Chiefs in late 2013.

There was so much more he could have done. A very premature and sad death.

RIP Sir Nicholas Winton

July 3rd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Time Magazine reports:

“Britain’s Schindler” stepped up to save children while the world was burning

What if the only way you can be good is to be great? There are moments in history when people are confronted by moral choices so stark that they either have to take risks or turn away. In 1938 it became clear that the Jewish children of Europe were marked for extinction. All across the world, people came to know this shocking truth. And all across the world, people did what we all do—they turned the page of the paper, took another sip of coffee, shook their heads at the tragedy of it all.

Sir Nicholas Winton, who died Wednesday at the age of 106, realized the threat while traveling through Czechoslovakia. Great turning points in human history do not take place in public but in a secret chamber in the hearts of human beings. The heart must be awake before the dramatic action. Winton, a Jew by descent who had been raised as a Christian, decided that he could not simply shake his head and drink his coffee and know that these children would die. His heart woke; he decided to be good by being great.

Winton arranged trains to carry children from Nazi-occupied Prague to Britain. He became the “one-man children’s section of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia.” His plans were ambitious: He drew up lists of thousands of children and persuaded families to accept these refugee children.

So many people today are alive thanks to him.  But remarkably he told no one about it.

Winton kept quiet about his work, and the truth of his heroism did not come to light for decades. For almost 50 years he was silent until his wife found documents in the attic, and his story was told.

He didn;’t even tell his wife he saved 669 children from extinction. He saw his actions as ordinary.

He will not be forgotten.

RIP Richard Orzecki

June 16th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Maori Party have announced:

The Māori Party is in mourning today for the loss of a loved friend, champion and trail-blazer, Richard Orzecki.

“Richard was one of our foot-soldiers from our earliest days,” says Māori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

“His commitment to the cause could not be faulted; he inspired everyone in his wake through his enthusiasm and his motivational leadership.”

Mr Orzecki took on the mantle of electorate chair for Te Tai Hauāuru and immediately set out to help set the strategic direction for the Māori Party.

“Nothing was too big a job for Richard. We saw that same application to the task when he became a member of Ngā Pū Waea, the Māori Broadband Working Group” says Mr Flavell.

“Richard fully understood the power of connection for whānau and worked assiduously to link up whānau with their marae through technology. He was a staunch advocate for investing in the right communications infrastructure for marae to consolidate their role as the virtual centres of their community.

Mr Orzecki served on two District Health Boards; was a member of the New Zealand Māori Council, and had previously been chair of his iwi, Te Rūnanga o Raukawa.

Māori Party Co-leader Marama Fox says, “While he was proud of his Polish whakapapa through his father, his passion knew no end for the advancement of Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Wehiwehi”.

I knew Richard through his work in the Internet space. He was a member of InternetNZ and was seen as a real leader in the Internet world. He was a strong and effective advocate and was responsible for many initiatives. On a personal note, he was one of life’s really nice people, and his death will leave all those who knew him very sad.

RIP John Marshall

June 15th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Much-loved Wellington lawyer John Marshall, QC, has died after battling a brain tumour.

The 68-year-old died “peacefully and surrounded by family” at his Wellington home on Sunday morning.

The prominent Wellingtonian was diagnosed with a brain tumour 11 months ago.

He is survived by his wife Mary, their three children, John, Annabel and Clementine, and his granddaughter Rose.

“John was an exceptionally warm, loving and supportive husband, father and grandfather.

“He was accepting, courageous and strong during the last 11 months. Throughout his illness, he said that he had had a wonderful life. We will miss him deeply,” they said.

Marshall was a highly regarded litigator whose services to the law were recognised this year when he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

He was former president of the New Zealand Law Society, and in his five-year tenure as chief commissioner of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, Marshall led such prominent New Zealand cases as the Carterton balloon disaster and the Easy Rider fishing boat tragedy.

Marshall was a hugely respected lawyer and contributed much to New Zealand and Wellington.

“Part of John Marshall’s legacy to transport safety will be his firm advocacy for better regulation and zero tolerance of substance impairment in safety critical transport roles,” Transport Accident Investigation Commission chief commissioner Helen Cull added.

Marshall was also a significant contributor to the national life of the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand, Knox Church Dunedin minister Kerry Enright said.

“He was conciliatory and gentle in his style, and his professionalism and wisdom together with his warmth and convivial humanity echoed the churches values and helped people respond in difficult circumstances.”

“He was just a wonderfully warm, encouraging, positive, thoughtful compassionate person to me,” Enright said.

Wellington College headmaster Roger Moses first met Marshall in his role on the Wellington College Board of Trustees, when Marshall appointed him to the headmaster role almost 20 years ago today.

Marshall was head prefect of Wellington College in 1964, on the Board of Trustees and chairman of the Wellington College Foundation.

“He will be very sadly missed. I feel pretty emotional, he’s been a wonderful friend,” Moses said.

Marshall was “integrity personified”, he said.

“It’s easy for someone like me to come out with a lot of cliches, but he really was a wonderful human being.”

As always thoughts are with his family and friends.

John Marshall was the son of former National Prime Minister Jack Marshall. I always though John Marshall would have been an excellent MP if he had also gone into politics.

RIP Sir Christopher Lee

June 12th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Daily Telegraph has rolling coverage of the tributes to Sir Christopher Lee, died aged 93. Amazingly he was still working, preparing to shoot a film with Uma Thurman.

For today’s generation he was the malevolent Saruman, but that was a small part of his 70 year career. He was one of the early Draculas, Count Dooku in a film we won’t name and more.

Lee was fluent in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian and could also speak Russian, Greek and Swedish.



RIP Peter Conway

June 11th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government and Business New Zealand have joined in tributes to former Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway who died suddenly yesterday.

Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Woodhouse said Mr Conway was an engaging, intelligent and passionate advocate for workers who had committed his whole working life to improving the lives of working people. …

Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O’Reilly said Mr Conway was unfailingly constructive as an advocate in employment relations and highly respected by all who worked with him.

“Peter was an industrial leader of the highest integrity and his passing is a sad loss to New Zealand.”

John Bishop of the Taxpayers’ Unions described him as “an unfailingly honourable and dedicated New Zealander who strove to serve the people he represented”.

I think it says a lot about someone who was in the political sphere when they are praised not just by those people on the same side of the spectrum as them, but also sincerely respected and praised by those on the other side.

His family issued a statement yesterday saying he had battled a depressive illness for a year.

“Peter fought hard in a daily struggle to stay with the family he loved. He carried this terrible illness with the same dignity and kindness that he lived his life, but ultimately it took him.”

Mr Conway is survived by his wife, Liz Riddiford, and three children, Maddy, Sean and Rosa.

My condolences to his family and friends.

RIP Sir Peter Williams

June 10th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Respected lawyer Sir Peter Williams died last night.

The 80-year-old Queen’s Counsel, who has battled prostate cancer for almost a decade, died at his Ponsonby, Auckland home about 6.30pm.

Sir Peter was one of New Zealand’s most respected legal minds and a prison reform campaigner.

He was never battle-shy, having fought for his clients in the courtroom for 60 years, and campaigned for prisoner rights.

There were times I wished Sir Peter was not such a fine lawyer, as he achieved many a “not guilty” verdict. But a fair justice system needs strong and skilled advocates, and he was definitely one of those.

RIP Lecretia Seales

June 5th, 2015 at 6:14 am by David Farrar

Received this morning from her family:

Lecretia Seales, the 42-year-old Wellington lawyer with terminal brain cancer, died of natural causes at 12.35am this morning.

Ms Seales’ health had deteriorated rapidly in the days since her appearance in the Wellington High Court last week where she was seeking a landmark declaration that her doctor would not risk prosecution under the Crimes Act if she were to assist Ms Seales to end her life, in the event her final days became unbearable to her.

Lawyers Andrew Butler, Chris Curran and Catherine Marks also argued that denying their client lawful access to physician assisted death amounted to a breach of Ms Seales’ rights and fundamental freedoms under the New Zealand Bill of Rights.

Ms Seales became increasingly paralysed over the past week and was moved into a hospital bed in her home on the weekend. Since then her husband Matt Vickers and mother Shirley Seales have been caring for Ms Seales supported by Mary Potter Hospice and the Capital & Coast DHB district nursing team.

Ms Seales’ death came just hours after her family and lawyers received Justice Collins’ full judgment. The judge has embargoed his decision until 15.00 hours today. [Friday]

My thoughts and condolences go out to her husband Matt, and the rest of her family and friends. There are few things worse than losing a loved one to cancer at such a young age.

Her CV, which includes DPMC, the Law Commission, Chen Palmer and Kensington Swan, indicates how very successful she had been as a lawyer.

Exposing her private struggle with cancer, to the public, must have been very challenging.

We’ll find out this afternoon at 3.00 pm the decision of the court. While that decision will be on an issue of significant public interest, it is worth remembering that at the core of the case was the untimely death of an individual, who will be missed greatly by her family and friends. For now my thoughts are with them.

RIP Frana Cardno

May 4th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Hundreds of people giggle as they flap their arms, turn in circles, and clap during a funeral.

This could only be the send off for former Southland District mayor and kindergarten teacher Frana Cardno.

In the picturesque setting of Ivon Wilson Park, Te Anau, mourners were greeted by the scent of beech trees as the sun dried rain from their leaves, and bellbirds sung from their branches.

I met Frana back in the mid 1990s when I was helping organise publicity for the Te Anau Scout Jamboree. Very smart and focused, and I noted each subsequent local body elections saw her re-elected as District Mayor for Southland.

She was Mayor of Southland District from 1992 to 2013.  I doubt there was anyone who lived down there who did not know her.

Condolences to her family and friends.

RIP Richie Benaud

April 10th, 2015 at 11:40 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Legendary cricket commentator Richie Benaud has died in a Sydney hospice. 

You could not over-state his influence on the game. He has been a commentator for over 40 years. The wonderful Twelfth Man take offs could not have happened without him.  Truly one of the greats.