Nothing delights Australian-born Tim Gunn more than escorting his three-year-old daughter and her mates to weekly ballet lessons.
“I would like to be a professional dad,” Tim says.
“My favourite day of the week is Friday because that’s when Matilda goes to ballet.
- Timothy Cameron (Tim) Gunn
- Port Headland, Western Australia
- Entry to law
- Graduated BA and LLB from Otago University and LLM in sports law from Auckland University. Admitted in 2007.
- Director and sole practitioner at TG Legal Services, Warkworth.
- Speciality area
- Insurance and employment.
“At 3 o’clock I pick her and two or three of her friends from kindergarten and walk 2 or 3 hundred metres to ballet school, where they spend the next half hour dancing around like fairies.
“I adore the kids and looking after them. There’s nothing better in the world than seeing your little daughter in a pink tutu.”
Previously an associate at Shine Lawyers, Tim recently established his own practice in Warkworth focusing on insurance and employment litigation. He is an advocate for modernisation and law reform in insurance law.
His South African parents, John, a third generation doctor from Cape Town, and Heather, from Johannesburg, met at a Cape Town hospital. They immigrated to Perth, Australia, where his father was a locum doctor for several years in the remote north west.
The family came to New Zealand in 1996 and settled in Auckland. Tim’s older brother Samuel lives in New Plymouth, where he is an oil and gas engineer. His younger sister Emily, a qualified lawyer, is currently raising a family.
“My father was happy to dissuade people from medicine because of the long hours and fatigue. He is 76 and still goes in twice a week to teach. He loves medicine.
“I had dreams of being a diplomat when I started study then realised maybe I wasn’t diplomatic enough. I liked action rather than talking and it would have been a life of futility if I had stuck with that.
“I love a good argument - I thought if I could have a career of arguing I would be in the right place.
“I’ve had a varied background and worked in lots of places in New Zealand and Australia, but it wasn’t until I found Andrew Hooker at Shine that I felt my calling as a lawyer had been realised.”
After Mr Hooker retired Tim thought it was a good time to start out on his own to give him the flexibility to work for the people he wanted to and be more adaptable.
Following his retirement Andrew Hooker went to live in Australia, where he was killed in a motorcycle accident in March.
Tim is married to Sarah, who works in e-commerce for emerging online shopping website The Market. They have a son, Oscar (6) and daughter Matilda, about to turn four.
Getting the phone to talk to the car
A devout and unashamed petrol head and Top Gear fan, Tim “religiously watches” car videos and car reviews.
“My family sees it as uncouth but I like all things that go fast – fast cars, racing cars, dirt bikes. Anything where I can place myself at mortal peril, that works for me.
“I drive a white 2009 turbo-charged 3-litre 6-cylinder BMW 335i, the same body shape as the M3. It’s quite a handful of a car.
“I can plug my cellphone into the car and decide – on my cellphone - how much power I would like that day. The cellphone talks to the car and raises or lowers the horsepower accordingly. I can have safe limits and unsafe limits, depending on my mood.
“The amount of detail I know about different cars, makes and models is astonishing. I have also done a number of track days. The children have curtailed dreams of circuit racing at the moment but that’s definitely a dream for later in life. I would like to be a gentleman racer later on.”
Tim says his love of cars may be something that’s passed through the genes, “because my son at a very small age could tell me the difference between a Porsche or a Ferrari at an age when he should not have known what brand of car it was. He could also spot the shape and model of my BMW.”
He is also a lover of water.
“We live quite close to the sea in Warkworth so I like diving, surfing, snorkelling, swimming. That’s my happy place.”
After a number of rugby and snowboarding concussions during his young adult life Tim doesn’t do contact sports but is a keen hockey player in the centre half position.
“Warkworth has a purpose-built hockey turf which means I can play at night and in all weather, without putting my head in danger. I took it up after not having played since sixth form and it’s still fun.”
The South American papa
“After high school I did an exchange and lived in Venezuela for a year, in Puerta la Cruz, next to the Caribbean sea, learning Spanish. President Hugo Chavez was still in power and it was and interesting place to be in, a lovely place to visit.
“It is a far cry from what it was then, and in a horrific position now.”
“My host father I lived with in Venezuela, Papa Orlando Gonzales, died a few years ago. He was one of nicest men I have ever met.
“He was a black man and as part of living with him for a year he was Papa. We had great fun and when I called him Dad people would look strangely at me, because I was a gringo. I looked very American. Everyone looked at me twice to have this dark-skinned man as my Dad.
“He was a fantastic cook. They like to eat and I like to eat. I never had so much well-cooked food and steak as I had with Orlando.”
At 11 he went to Lucknow, in India, for a month on a Children International Summer Villages programme involving 11-year-olds from various countries, meeting youngsters from Germany, Brazil, Finland and Norway. “It was an eye-opening experience for an 11-year-old seeing people with elephantitis and people with no legs on skateboards,” says Tim who also travelled to Thailand and Vietnam.
“I didn’t have the stickability to play any musical instruments but I sang as a way of stress relief in the 6th and 7th forms.
“I have become reliant on Spotify to generate playlists for me and my tastes have become more placid as I have got older. I used to think hip hop was appropriate but I’m much more suited to bluegrass and folk music. I like Mumford and Sons and English indie rock band Alt-J, especially their song Matilda, which came out just after we named our daughter Matilda.
“I don’t read as much as I would like. Mostly it’s my son’s books, as we are trying to teach him to read. My mother read Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One to us as children, which I think was very important as a South African lady she would read that to us. And I like Rudyard Kipling.
“I’m too restless to sit in one spot so don’t like going to films. I’m watching some television but so much of it is swords and sandals, fighting and dragons. Television shows of novels I like are usually tiresome. I like Scandinavian crime dramas, and the award-winning Korean movie Parasite is a cracker.
“We are lucky to have access to a bach at Little Bay, near Waikawau, on the Coromandel. It’s a secluded little beach on a dirt road, no internet, no cellphone. There’s lots of sea life, kina and shell fish. My wife truly relaxes there.
“We have a seven-year-old cat called Frankie we got in Christchurch and a new addition – a four-month-old kitten called Rocky. They are both rescue cats. I thought Frankie would like a friend but they have got off to a bit of a rocky start.
“They are more competitive than I thought they were going to be. Rocky is very affectionate, while Frankie is a bit more aloof and likes to be by herself.
“I never had a chance to meet my grandfather on my Dad’s side, Ken Gunn. He died quite young when I was little. He was a loud and gregarious character and I would like him as a dinner guest. They have a tradition of Viking names in the family. My dad is John Kenneth Thorson Gunn.
Another guest would be Papa from Venezuela who could share in the country’s cooking traditions.
“Parilla is the Spanish word for barbecue and they cook all their meat on the barbecue. So I would make nice steak with salsa verde sauce, roasted vegetables, feta, and some kind of salad to make myself feel better.
“Because of my concussions I have been teetotal for the last four years but have found low alcohol beers have developed to a point they are delicious. We have a lot of breweries around Warkworth, producing low alcohol beer and a 1.5 % from Sawmill is the best I have had.”
Tim has one case that stands out.
“I always remember when a man came to visit us with terminal cancer. The terms of his insurance policy were that if he had six months to live he could have an early payout of his cover.
“The insurance company offered a quarter of the cover and the balance when he died. There was no rhyme nor reason for that. It was the difference between $100,000 and $400,000.
“I sent a letter and made one phone call and in the next few days he was paid his $400,000. He arrived at our office in a brand new Mustang. He had six months to live and told he couldn’t drive but there was nothing stopping him.”
As well as attaining his BA and LLB at Otago University, Tim did his LLM in sports law at Auckland University.
“I had the makings of being Jerry Maguire, but the only thing I share with Tom Cruise is wanting to be taller. And the market at the time wasn’t there.”