Newspaper Article 1999 – Bay judge knighted

Bay judge knighted

Eight in region named in honours list



The new Sir Rodney Gallen believes his title is a recognition of his 16-year “job” as a High Court judge rather than of him as a person.

Sir Rodney, who retired this month, heads a list of eight Hawke’s Bay people recognised in this year’s New Year’s honours list.

He is also one of four new knights and dame honoured.

The others are thoroughbred horse breeder Sir Patrick Hogan, information technology leader Sir Gilbert Simpson, Maori adviser to the secretary of justice, Sir John Turei, and Waikato University geography professor and Waitangi tribunal member Dame Evelyn Stokes.

Former prime minister and now World Trade Organisation director-general Mike Moore received the highest award in New Zealand today when he was made a Member of the Order of New Zealand.

The other Hawke’s Bay people honoured are orcharding innovator John Paynter, long-time National Party worker and farmer Bay de Lautour, Napier surf life-saving stalwart John Johnstone, Napier historian Peggy Higgins, Dannevirke community worker May Bell, Ngati Kahungunu community worker Dave Stone and baking industry innovator John Gould.

Former Hawke’s Bay sportsman John Prince, who now lives in Christchurch, was also honoured.

Sir Rodney, whose telephone was ringing off the wall this morning, said the work of a High Court judge needed to have the status associated with a title.

“The maintenance of law and order depends on the maintenance of the institutions associated with it. If the institutions are attacked, then law and order itself is attacked.

“That’s why I don’t like to see attacks on the police, for instance.

“Although they, like judges, must be accountable, attacks on them undermine their authority.”

Sir Rodney has moved back to his family home near Havelock North that was once part of the Chambers family’s Te Mata estate after 16 years either in Wellington or travelling on circuit.

He was educated at the former Waipawa District School and Napier Boys’ High School.

He studied law at Victoria University, Wellington, and began work in 1957 at Napier law firm Lusk Willis Sproule and Woodhouse. He became a partner in 1958.

Sir Rodney is the third High Court judge to come from the firm which is now Willis Toomey Robinson. The others are Sir Owen Woodhouse and Justice Lester Chisholm who now sits in Christchurch.

He was made a Queen’s Counsel in 1978 and in 1979 was elected president of the Hawke’s Bay District Law Society before being appointed a High Court justice in November 1983 and being transferred to Hamilton.

After four years he moved to Wellington.

Sir Rodney chaired the 1971 committee of inquiry into services at the Oakley psychiatric hospital in Auckland and the 1980 commission of enquiry into the Abbotsford, Dunedin, landslide.

He joked that his title might mean he was treated with a bit more respect but otherwise did not expect much to change.

He has known about it for about a month but said it was not hard to keep it a secret from his friends and family; “Judges are used to keeping secrets.”

Apart from his lifetime in law, Sir Rodney has a long record of community service.

He is deeply committed to the Presbyterian Church and to the interests of children.

He was chairman of the body which ran the Hillsbrook children’s home in Havelock North and many of the children he took under his wing remain in touch with him.

“I think I was given as much as I gave.” he said.

He chaired the Havelock North High School Board of Trustees for many years and played a prominent role in the Presbyterian Church’s joint committee between the general synod and the Maori synod.

He has also served on several trusts aiming to improve the educational and life chances of children. He hopes to be able to devote more time to that work now he is retired.

One of his trust proteges is the new chief judge of the Maori Land Court, Judge Joe Williams, formerly of Hawke’s Bay.

More honours – Page 2

Photo caption – THE new Sir Rodney Gallen in casual mode in his garden with his elkhounds Oscar and Leif.


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Format of the original

Newspaper article

Date published

31 December 1999

Creator / Author

  • John Cowpland
  • Rose Harding


Hawke's Bay Today


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


  • May Bell
  • Justice Lester Chisholm
  • Bay de Lautour
  • Sir Rodney Gallen
  • John Gould
  • Peggy Higgins
  • Sir Patrick Hogan
  • John Johnstone
  • Mike Moore
  • John Paynter
  • John Prince
  • Dame Evelyn Stokes
  • Dave Stone
  • Sir Gilbert Simpson
  • Sir John Turei
  • Judge Joe Williams
  • Sir Owen Woodhouse

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