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‘Sense of collegiality’ as 150th Canterbury-Westland celebrations looms

16 August 2018

The New Zealand Law Society Canterbury-Westland branch president says the overwhelming interest in the 150th anniversary dinner shows the strength of the local profession.

The branch is celebrating its sesquicentennial with a range of festivities spread over three days in October culminating in the Gala Ball on Saturday the 27th. It begins with a profession photo on the preceding Thursday and the law dinner that same evening.

Branch President Grant Tyrrell says tickets for the law dinner sold out in 15 minutes, “which is a reflection of the interest in the event and the strong sense of collegiality of the profession in the Canterbury and Westland area”.

Grant Tyrrell

There are still tickets available for the Gala Ball which includes a Cirque de Soleil-themed event with acrobats, contortionists, marionettes et al, at the Wigram Events Hall. The evening will kick off with the Beat Girls followed by the 12-piece Little Cabaret Band.

Mr Tyrrell says the formation of the local society is rooted in the initial landings of the first settlers to the area.

“The first four ships arrived in 1850 and the early foundations were rapdily set for what would become the Canterbury Law Society in 1868  and is now the Canterbury-Westland Branch. It’s really interesting to see how a legal system developed in fledging Christchurch and that it was also seen as important that lawyers had their own society in those early years.”

Mr Tyrrell says the Society has had a number of ups and downs in a century and a half, and although there’s a preference to look forward the devastating earthquakes of 2011 does spring to mind.

“There were weeks of virtually no justice services in Christchurch, and that was troubling to say the least. I think we had, at one point, 18 different venues to provide justice, from the Nga Hau e wha o Paparangi marae to the  airforce base, racecourse, tennis club, the moot room at the university, hotel rooms and so on.”

Many law firms were forced, initially, into temporary units, and some then moved to other parts of the city, such as Addington and Riccarton. While some have moved back to the CBD, many have stayed where they are, as LawTalk explored in the April 2018 edition, No.916.

“The profession is much more spread out throughout Christchurch than it used to be, and that might not be such a bad thing for consumers as it can make it easier to suburban areas and also for parking. And it means that events such as the 150th anniversary are all the more important for bringing a disparate profession together,” says Mr Tyrrell.

The celebrations will be an opportunity to reflect on our shared history for all lawyers within the branch from Timaru to Westport and everywhere in between as well as look forward to new opportunities and challenges.

The Gala Ball is open to judiciary, lawyers, law lecturers, senior court  and law firm staff.

Tickets are available through the bookwhen website and booking codes have been sent out to practitioners in a standalone notice.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019