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Sir David Beattie, 1924 - 2001

Former Governor-General and Supreme Court judge Sir David Beattie died suddenly at his home in Upper Hutt on 4 February 2001.

New Zealand Law Society President Christine Grice said Sir David was highly regarded within the legal profession.

He was born in Sydney in 1924 but grew up in Auckland. After serving in the Second World War, he studied law at Auckland University and set up in private practice on graduating. He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1964, was President of the Auckland District Law Society and a member of the New Zealand Law Society Council in 1965, and served as a Supreme Court judge from 1969 until he was appointed Governor-General in 1980. In 1977-78 he chaired the Royal Commission on the Courts which led to the current court structure.

Sir David received two knighthoods, the Grand Cross and Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, from the Queen in 1980.

He had a passion for sport and was honoured with a special reception in Parliament late last year for his contribution to sport. This included his time as president of the New Zealand Olympic Committee till the end of the Sydney Olympics, president of the Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association in 1989, and president of the New Zealand Sports Foundation for two terms. He was patron of the New Zealand Rugby Union, the Boxing Association and the Squash Rackets Association. Sir David was a keen golfer, tennis player and fisherman.

He was also active in the arts, serving as patron of the New Zealand Youth Choir in 1990 and chairing the Festival of Arts from 1986 to 1990. He was also involved in helping the disadvantaged.

Sir David was given a State funeral in Wellington on Friday, 9 February.

He is survived by his wife, seven children and 16 grandchildren.

This obituary was first published in LawTalk 556, 26 February 2001, page 4.

Last updated on the 11th May 2012