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Justice Richard Alexander Heron, 1936 – 2002

Richard Heron, who retired as a High Court judge in December 2001, died on 30 March 2002, aged 65.

Born in Wellington on 22 December 1936, he was educated at Rongotai College (although his father - Harold Heron - was principal of Wellington College). He graduated LLB from Victoria University of Wellington in 1960. A keen rugby player, he was a Victoria University Rugby Blue from 1956 to 1958, and represented Wellington B in 1957.

After admission to the bar in 1960 he worked at a number of law firms in Wellington, becoming a partner in Young, Swan, McKay & Col (formerly Swan, Davies, McKay & Col). He was known for his expertise in insurance law.

Justice Heron married Fiona Jean Chapman in 1963 and the couple had two sons and a daughter.

Actively involved in the legal profession and community organisations, he was a member of the New Zealand Council of Law Reporting from 1979 to 1983 and a member of the Legal Aid Appeal Authority from 1980 to 1984. A Council member of the New Zealand Law Society from 1982 to 1984, he was President of the Wellington District Law Society in 1984. He was a member of the New Zealand Law Society's Averill Advertising Committee which investigated and made recommendations on advertising by the legal profession.

Justice Heron also participated in education governance, and this included being a member and chair of the Rongotai College Board of Governors, a member of the Wellington Teachers' College Council, and from 1982 to 1984 he was a member of the Wellington College Board of Governors. He was also a Board member of the New Zealand Sports Foundation.

His legal career took a new direction in 1984 with his appointment as a High Court Judge, and he remained on the bench for 17 years until his retirement. He was highly respected as a member of the judiciary and as chair of the Standing Committee for Courthouse Design he was recognised for his effective leadership in the design and refurbishment of New Zealand's courthouses in the 1980s and 1990s.

At the time of his death he was chair of the Parole Board. 

A shorter version of this obituary was first published in LawTalk 581, 29 April 2002, page 5.

Last updated on the 8th January 2016