New Zealand Law Society - Lawyers remember Major James Houlker

Lawyers remember Major James Houlker

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Houlker relatives
John Houlker, Peter Houlker and Jim Thomson, great-nephews of Major Houlker.

A commemorative service was held at Nelson law firm Knapps Lawyers on 10 August 2015 in recognition of the service and sacrifice of Major James Houlker.

Major Houlker, who was a prominent member of the Nelson legal profession, died of wounds on 10 August 1915 at Gallipoli.

Born in England on 17 May 1880, Major Houlker's family emigrated to New Zealand while he was young and settled in Nelson. He attended Nelson College - where he was Head Boy in his last year in 1900 - and studied law at Canterbury University College. 

He was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand by the Chief Justice on 13 March 1904 on the motion of his employer, Andrew Maginnity. Major Houlker became a partner in the firm in 1910, and it became Maginnity Son and Houlker. The firm later became Hunter Ralfe, and in July 2013 merged to become Knapps Lawyers.

As well as a number of Nelson lawyers, the service was attended by three of Major Houlker's grand-nephews, John Houlker, Peter Houlker, and Auckland barrister Jim Thomson. They brought Major Houlker's ceremonial sword and a plaque and memorial scroll that was presented by King George V to the families of the soldiers who were killed.

Knapps partner Ross McKechnie (formerly senior partner at Hunter Ralfe) spoke on the firm's history and Major Houlker's involvement, and Peter Houlker outlined the life and career of his great uncle. Nelson College was represented by Solomon Stephens who delivered the speech which won him the regional RSA Speech Contest. The service ended with a moment's silence.

Further information on Major Houlker's life and career is available here.

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