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Peter Edward Martyn, 1930 – 2012

By Chris Ryan

Wellington lawyer Peter Martyn died on 12 October 2012 aged 82.

Born in Oamaru on 18 September 1930, he was educated at Waitaki Boys’ High School and studied law at Victoria University of Wellington in the 1950s.

Peter first worked at the Public Trust Office in Wellington before joining in May 1959 the firm with which he would spend the rest of his legal career – Macalister Mazengarb Parkin and Rose.

In a eulogy delivered at Peter’s funeral, Wayne Chapman said Peter was “poached” from the Public Trust Office by Macalister Mazengarb partner Frank Parkin to manage the firm’s estate practice and the general conveyancing and commercial work that went with that role.

When Wayne went to work as a law clerk for Buddle Anderson Kent & Co in February 1965 he met Peter Martyn through conveyancing settlements.

“Law clerks in those days attended on conveyancing settlements in person. Macalister Mazengarb Parkin and Rose acted for the PSIS, a very active second mortgage lender, so many settlements involved law clerks from Macalister Mazengarb.”

Later, when the two firms both moved into the newly completed National Bank building on Featherston Street, he and Peter frequently met in the lifts and around and about.

Wayne says Peter was ahead of his time in his ability to clearly and concisely explain complex matters of the law.

“I remember acting for the purchaser of one of two units in Wilton Road that had been subdivided under the then very new Unit Titles Act 1972. Peter acted for the vendor and for the owner of the other unit. He had probably been responsible for the Unit Title subdivision. Following settlement, Peter convened a meeting between my client with me in attendance and his other client, the owner of the other unit. The purpose of that meeting was to explain the ramifications of that new legislation and the way the development should operate. Peter gave that explanation in a clear and concise way in language that my client (and I) clearly understood.”

Peter was associated with Law Society affairs for more than 15 years. He first became a member of the Wellington District Law Society Council in March 1974. At the end of 1977, as equal longest-serving member with Mr AAT Ellis, he lost a coin toss to determine who would make the normally automatic progression to the position of treasurer and eventually President. In accordance with the rules Peter stood down for a year and rejoined the Council in March 1979. This time he passed through the ranks and was elected unopposed as President in March 1987. Later he served as a New Zealand Law Society Vice-President and Treasurer.

Wayne Chapman says Peter’s long service to the Law Society reflects the pride he felt in the profession.

“He brought to it the same sort of attention to detail as he did to the unit title deal [previously] mentioned.”

Away from work Peter had a rich and happy family life. He and Joy were married in 1955. They had three daughters and two sons, and now five grandchildren. Peter loved literature, music and the theatre. He was especially fond of chamber music and Shakespeare and was a member of the Wellington Shakespeare Society.

He had been a keen tramper and did some trekking in Nepal. He enjoyed lawn bowls, playing at the Khandallah club, and also played bridge. He was a lifelong learner, interested in history, classics, language, botany, mathematics and art.

Macalister Mazengarb practice manager Sue Isaacs says Peter was coming into the office until recently.

“He was a gentleman of the old school, a lovely fellow,” she says.

Peter Martyn was one of the “50-plus” practitioners – those in practice for 50 or more years – honoured by the Wellington branch at a dinner in June 2010.

This obituary was first published in Council Brief, November 2012.

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Last updated on the 16th October 2018