New Zealand Law Society - Gisborne stirs Scottish “fitba” blood

Gisborne stirs Scottish “fitba” blood

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Footballer David Ure got some sage advice when he moved back from Wellington to practise law in Gisborne.

“It was early in the year and one of my mentors, Geoff Bibby, was putting up his wall planner. He said ‘the first thing you do with this David, is get a highlighter and mark in where your holidays are. Then make everything else fit around it’.”

It is advice David, now a director of Grey Street Legal, and recently re-elected president of the New Zealand Law Society’s Gisborne branch, continues to follow.

David Charles Smith (David) Ure
Nelson, and moved to Gisborne when he was one.
Entry to law
Graduated LLB and BA in English Literature from Victoria University in 2001. Admitted in 2002
Director at Grey Street Legal, Gisborne.
Speciality area
Property and commercial law.
David Ure
David Ure

“It is important people in our profession make sure they take their holidays,” he says.

“Your mind is your tool and if you don’t look after it, watch out. If you were a tree feller you would rest or maintain your chainsaw. You have got to do that with your mind.”

While born in Nelson, David considers himself from Gisborne.

“My mum Wendy – who has been a pre-school teacher here for 35 years – was born in Karamea on the West Coast, where her dad was a tree feller and freezing worker. Her family moved to Nelson.

“My father Charlie was a Scot who moved to New Zealand in the 1970s to play football for Nelson United under Kevin Fallon.”

Charlie Ure played at national league level in New Zealand – was a member of the Nelson United team that won the Chatham Cup in 1977 – and after a long career had his last game when he was 40. He was a schoolboy/pro with Scottish premier league club Hibernian (Hibs) in Leith, Edinburgh.

David says that, for various reasons, his dad’s footballing career in Scotland didn’t work out.

“They had a good youth team at Hibs, then the first team got relegated, a new manager came in and scrapped the youth system so all the quite promising kids got released.

“When Fallon [who would later coach the All Whites] went to Hamilton, mum and dad went up there for a season with him. Then returned to Nelson where I was born. When Fallon moved to Gisborne, once Gisborne City got promoted to the national league, Fallon asked dad to come up and play for him here, so we moved to Gisborne.”

David is married to fellow lawyer Melanie, who is a partner with Nolans in Gisborne. “We are currently in competition.” Overseas travel lead Melanie to work for the Procurator Fiscal’s Office in Glasgow and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

The couple have two children, Grace (11) and George (8).

David’s younger brother Jody, is a graphic designer in Doha, where he met his wife, whose family is from Virginia. “So we are going to the States in July for the American leg of the wedding. That will be fun.”

The veteran player

“I am still hanging in and playing football for local team Thistle. Our league is based in Hawke’s Bay so we do an all-day road trip every second Saturday, which is a bit exhausting for a 40-year-old.

“New Zealand football is such a strange thing, it reinvents itself almost every year.

“When I was playing earlier we had a North Island and a South Island league. I was in Wellington from 1996 to 2004 and played for Lower Hutt City in 1999.

“I’m interested in most sports, but only ever been much good at football, so stuck to that.

“My next project is with youth football. At the moment we have a very good system and a good guy in charge of youth football Blake Mulrooney - the Central Football Gisborne game development officer.

“He takes kids up till about 12, then they go to high school and we have an odd system. The high schools run their own teams like a club. In my opinion they don’t put the kids first, so we have a gap between 12 and 17 or 18, when they leave high school, leave Gisborne, or got to university or find work.

“We have a bit of a dearth of players at that age where they not being looked after well enough. So me and a couple of other guys are trying to look for a way to keep kids at that age involved in the game, which will keep the sport much stronger.

“We also want to try to provide the most professional environment we can when they do leave. Some will leave and tap into programmes in the States.

“Those football programmes were just getting off the ground when I was at university and they are now quite popular. Quite a few Kiwi kids go to university and play football in the States.

“It is an excellent environment to be part of. The worst case scenario is they come away with a degree and some cool stories about living in the States for four years and using their Kiwi accent to attract the American women.”


David has served on the local Law Society branch for about six years. “I get a kick going to national meetings and functions where you are surrounded by some very intelligent people. These guys are at the top of our profession.”

“Sometimes in a small practice in the regions, you don’t always have access to that kind of talent, but there is something to be said for being a provincial lawyer.

“I think I would be bored to tears if I was working in what I think it would be like in a big city practice. I would be worried about being put in a cubby hole and told ‘this is your small area of the law you will become very good at but it’s all you will know’. Although it would be comforting to be really good at something, I’d get very bored I think.”

As well as being involved with his children’s school, David is on the board of Hospice Tairawhiti, which has a project underway to build a new facility on the local hospital grounds.

“The hospice has outgrown the need. The big move in hospice is towards people dying at home and trying to make it as good as possible for the person dying and their families. It seems to be what people want to do when they get to that stage of life.

“It seems crazy to me that the hospice and the ambulance service, for example, are not funded by central government. You would have thought it was one of those vital services the country should provide.

David Ure
David with George and Grace in front of the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow

“I like listening to music. My wife bought me a Crafter acoustic guitar, having got sick of me saying I would like to learn to play the guitar and never doing anything about it.

“I would be lucky to be called a beginner at the guitar. I would love to play the guitar better. I am determined to improve.

“I signed up to the Fender App because if I pay $15 a month it might encourage me to do it, but that hasn’t really worked yet.

“REM is my favourite band. I like a pretty eclectic mix. Not modern pop music. The last concert we went to was the Arctic Monkeys, which was awesome.

“I read a lot and have just read an interesting story on the Guardian App which reminded me that my favourite novel was 1984. Someone has just written another biography on George Orwell.

“They were talking about how 1984 has been written off as too topical but has never seemed to have died. I studied it at school when I first read it. It is one of those books that stuck with me. The importance of truth.

“I despise things like ‘that’s not my truth’. There is truth and that’s it. There are facts and science, just because you don’t like it you can’t change it. Science just is.

“You can’t just decide what you like and don’t like and then believe that. Social media has allowed that madness to grow.

“I’m reading English author Edward Rutherfurd’s historical novels based around cities. We are going to New York this year so I’m reading that one. Louis de Bernieres’ Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is also one of my favourites.

“Mel and I have joined the TV binge watching thing. We’ve recently watched Ozarks. Madmen is my favourite TV show.

“On the Jones channel they show TV shows from my childhood and the kids got into Magnum PI, with Tom Selleck. There’s a new series of Magnum PI, but the wardrobe was better in the old series.”

Unusual pathway into the law

“My entry to law is a bit embarrassing, because I didn’t really get attracted to law. I stayed with English, classics and history at school, and always liked that kind of thing.

“I was interested in being a teacher or going into journalism at that point. At Victoria University I was picking subjects and had a gap in my timesheet. I had nothing on Tuesday or Friday and law fitted in.

“Always in the back of my mind I thought it might get me a job where a BA in English Lit might not.

“I did first year law without too much of a burning desire to become a lawyer but got through to the second year, and my marks were always ok so I stuck at it. And got far more interested as I studied further.

David got a graduate job at Morrison Kent in Wellington which “for a lot of reasons was a wonderful move for me”.

“Career-wise it gave me a really good two-and-a-half years or so of background in a really good professional environment. Looking back on it now it was a well-run place with some really good lawyers.

“It’s also where I met my wife. Mel was an associate at the firm. I made a cool group of friends and keep in touch with three or four of them from those days.

“Other than Mel there are no other lawyers in the family. We are both from a working class background. My Dad was a carpet layer, Mum trained later in life to be a pre-school teacher. Mel’s parents are from Wainui on the Banks Peninsula. They bought the well-known Barry’s Bay cheese factory.

“We like to try different spots for holidays. This year is the United States. And one of my best mates is getting married next year to his French fiancé, in Corsica, so hopefully we will be going there next year.

“Daughter Grace was interested in football for about five minutes and is showing an aptitude for netball. Son George is following in his forebears’ footsteps, he’s a good wee player, even at eight. Because my playing season starts before his I get to wind him up that I have more goals, then after a few games he has overtaken me.

“We have a black Labrador called Alice and two black cats - Jet and Chocolate.

“I have a Toyota Camry when I drive. Cars are not my thing. I’m usually on my push bike – a modern take on an old-fashioned cruiser with three gears.

“As an English Lit man I would like a few writers round for dinner. Horace, from ancient Rome [leading Roman lyric poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65 BC – 8 BC], George Orwell, and actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and her brother Jake.

“For dinner I can’t go past a good steak, with a pinot noir from a local vineyard, Milton, and plenty of Gisborne Sunshine Brewery’s Gisborne Gold beer. And finish with Lagavulin single malt Islay whisky.”

“I would have loved to have been a professional footballer. When I told my dad at 11, I wanted to be a professional footballer, he told me I was too old and too shite.

“Which wasn’t encouraging but certainly honest. It’s bloody difficult to make a career in football.

“That was my father’s way in his tough Scotsman-like style of telling me to stick to your school work, son, and you’ll do better. I don’t regret it.

“I would also have liked to have been a journalist but it’s a helluva place now to try to make a career. What has happened to journalism and where it has gone is quite dispiriting. I’ve stopped buying the weekend papers. Every second article is an opinion.”

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