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Timothy George Twist MNZM, 1936 - 2014

By Bruce Martin and Russell Robinson

Respected Hawke's Bay lawyer and tertiary education leader Timothy George Twist (Tim) died in Napier, aged 77, on March 30, 2014.

Born in Wellington on 9 October 1936 to Albert and Irene Twist, Tim lived in Elizabeth Street, Mount Victoria with his parents, grandparents, and younger brother Derek.

In 1954 at the age of 17, he met Joan Davies and they married six years later in 1960. Their daughters Joanne and Juliet were born in 1961 and 1962 respectively.

At both Clyde Quay Primary School and then Wellington College, Tim was to distinguish himself both academically and on the sports field, before going on to complete a law degree at Victoria University.

Tim worked first for O'Regan and Arndt while completing his law studies and then, for six years, with Chapman Tripp, before moving to Napier in 1966 to take up employment with Willis Toomey Robinson (at that stage, Robinson and Toomey), where he became a partner in 1968.

In the early years of his career, he covered virtually all aspects of the law, including court work relating to criminal and divorce matters.

He was eventually to concentrate on the areas of property and commercial law, and in latter years was regularly appointed by the court to protect the personal and property rights of people deemed vulnerable. He served on the Hawke's Bay District Law Society for a number of years, including as president in 1983-84. In 2011, he celebrated 50 years in practice and a bar dinner was held in his honour. He retired from practice in 2012.

Parallel with his legal career, Tim spent 25 years on the council (including 17 years as chair) of what is now the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT). When he stepped down in December 2002, he was the longest serving chair in the New Zealand tertiary sector. 

It is widely accepted that no one played a greater part in the creation of a credible tertiary education institution for Hawke's Bay, so it was fitting that the EIT Library was named the Twist Library in 1993, and that Tim was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in 2002 for services to education and the community.

At different times Tim was also a member of the Rotary Club of Ahuriri, where he spent a term as president and was made a Paul Harris Fellow, and involved with both Napier Marriage Guidance and the Friends of Napier Library.

Tim's loves included books and music, and his personal library contained more than 1800 titles with a particular focus on biographies, world history, cultures, and religions. Not only did he read extensively but he could recall most of it in impressive detail.

Those who knew Tim well would readily agree he demonstrated strong values and a rare ability both to build relationships and to empathise. He was highly respected and trusted by colleagues, clients and staff. To his friends he was totally loyal.

During Tim's lengthy tenure as chair of the EIT council, his collegial and inclusive leadership style was a significant factor in the consistently harmonious relationships within the council, between council and management, and between the institution and stakeholder groups. Husband, father, friend, mentor, colleague and leader - Tim played many roles and played them all exceptionally well. Hawke's Bay has lost a remarkable citizen.

Tim is survived by his wife Joan and his two daughters Joanne and Juliet. As a husband and father, Tim adored and loved them totally and unequivocally.

This obituary was published by Hawke's Bay Today on 22 May 2014 and is reproduced with the kind permission of Hawke's Bay Today.

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Last updated on the 26th May 2014