New Zealand Law Society - Cricketing counsel’s commercial choice beats crime

Cricketing counsel’s commercial choice beats crime

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Marty Wilson
Marty Wilson

By Jock Anderson

Blenheim-born former policeman Marty Wilson encourages lawyers to consider moving to Blenheim, which he says needs more lawyers, with a lot of older ones wanting to “pass on the baton”.

“It’s hard to get younger lawyers here, they think it is a backwater,” says Marty, a director of local firm Wain & Naysmith.

“But there are opportunities in under-lawyered Blenheim. Over in Nelson they are over-lawyered and the same in Christchurch. Because of succession we have a lot of older lawyers looking for younger ones to take over.”

Martyn Robert Bruce (Marty) Wilson
Entry to law
Graduated BCom from Lincoln University, LLM (Honours) from Canterbury University in 1998
Director at Wain & Naysmith, Blenheim
Speciality area
Commercial law

A mainlander at heart, Marty gave up a good police career in Wellington to take up law and return to the South Island.

“I left Blenheim at 18 in 1982 and spent 12 months training as a police cadet. There were 36 other guys and four female cadets – the first time they had female cadets. I was posted to Wellington Central at the start of 1983 and spent the next 12 years there.”

He spent on a year on the beat, along with Paul Wicks - who is now an Auckland-based QC – followed by a year on team policing, then was transferred to the CIB as a detective.

“I did a couple of years in the fraud squad, which gave me exposure to commercial life and I enjoyed my time there. I assisted the Serious Fraud Squad when they arrested Keith Hancox,” he says.

Hancox, a former Parliamentary reporter and accomplished distance swimmer, was jailed in 1992 for stealing more than $1 million meant for athletes in his role as executive director of the Sports Foundation.

“At that time the SFO did high profile stuff, they had just started and were trying to justify themselves. In the police we were doing bank officers stealing $50-$60,000 and people stealing from organisations - not high profile.”

Marty served six years on the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) during the time of the Aramoana massacre.

He also served on the anti-terrorist squad, which later became the special tactics group.

“The AOS was more to contain and negotiate, while the anti-terrorist squad was the next level up, with practice assaulting buildings. It was good fun and a real adventure for young single guys.”

A year off leads to law

Marty took a year off to study commerce and finance at Lincoln University, followed by extramural study at Massey University.

“I had to decide whether I wanted to continue with the police and go up through the ranks, or leave, so I decided to leave and finished my commerce degree.”

He signed up for law at Canterbury University.

“After graduating in 1998 I worked at the Commerce Commission in Wellington in the competition division, analysing commercial behaviour for compliance with the Commerce Act, price fixing and anti-competitive behaviour, business acquisitions and mergers,” he says.

Moving back to Christchurch to specialise in commercial law, he worked at Anthony Harper for two years before returning to Blenheim.

“Sue and I had a young family, my parents were here, so it was for family and lifestyle.”

After three years with Radich Dwyer he moved to Wain & Naysmith, where he has been for 14 years.

“I don’t do criminal law. When you are a policeman you spend all your time trying to convict someone, so I didn’t want to spend the rest of my days trying to get them off.”

A big family and community commitment

Five children aged between 19 and six years – including George the youngest who has Type 1 diabetes – take a lot of management for wife Sue, while Marty is “at the coalface.”

A keen cricketer, he is chairman of the Mick Jellyman Charitable Trust, which helps kids get involved in sport. He is also a trustee of the Blenheim South Community Trust, served on the Mistletoe Bay Trust Board for six years, chaired the Junior Cricket Board, served on the Marlborough Cricket committee and the board of trustees of Fairhall School.

“My mother’s uncle was a Judge Fea - he was a lawyer in Invercargill – but there are no other lawyers in the immediate family.”

Given his many commitments Marty finds little time to relax, but he makes the most of those rare opportunities.

“I like non-fiction books and have just finished Lone Survivor, about a US Navy SEAL rescued after being left for dead in Afghanistan. TV is for cricket and rugby.

“I learnt the recorder at school but am not musical and got kicked out of the school choir for shocking vocals.

“I drive a VW Passat wagon, and with a family of seven the family vehicle is a bloody practical Toyota people mover which the teenage girls love and we are about to upgrade.

“I’ll have to think about dinner guests. But we would serve up good Marlborough produce, seafood, mussels, crays and Marlborough wine.”

Why Clyde is a special place

“We love the Marlborough Sounds and Central Otago - the walking and biking tracks are a great investment - and stayed at Arrowtown in January.

“Sue and I married in Clyde 21 years ago. Sue’s father’s ashes are at the church down there and her grandfather was the canon at the Anglican Church.

“We went back last year for a reunion with some of the wedding party.”

Another good reason to visit Central Otago is to drop by the 130-year old Pitches Store.

Bought and fully restored over six years by Sue’s auntie and uncle, Colleen and David Hurd – a prominent Auckland barrister – Pitches is now a boutique accommodation and fine dining experience in Ophir, which holds the record for the lowest recorded temperature in New Zealand.

“If I gave away the law I think I would remain involved in business in some way. With 20-odd people in the firm, practising law is a business these days when you own it.

“The thing the police teaches you - especially in the CIB - that helps in the law, is attention to detail. It also gives you the ability to relate to all types of people, and to deal with adversity.

“You learn some good skills in the police.”

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