There’s not much Whanganui lawyer Mark Bullock hasn’t fitted in to his busy life - playing and coaching rugby, rowing, hunting, fishing, water skiing, squash, cycling, dirt biking, finishing the Coast to Coast twice and fathering four kids.
In amongst all that he merged a couple of law firms, rebranded them as Bullock and Associates, and this year took on the presidency of the Whanganui branch of the New Zealand Law Society for the third time, after serving in the role in 2014 and 2015.
“I couldn’t convince anyone to take the job and they caught me at a weak moment so I agreed to take over again. Traditionally, everyone does a couple of years but this year they were scratching for people to take over the reins. I’ve been busy but it’s not too onerous.”
- Mark John (Mark) Bullock
- Entry to law
- Graduated LLB from Canterbury University in 1993. Admitted in 1994.
- Principal at Bullock and Associates, Whanganui.
- Speciality area
- Family, property and employment law.
The first lawyer in his family and born and bred in Whanganui, Mark – who is also an accredited mediator for Fairway Dispute Resolution – set up in his home town after finishing law at Canterbury University and practising on his own until he joined what was then Jack Riddet Tripe (JRT Law) in 2011.
JRT Law merged with Robert Handley and Co in 2015 followed by the formation of Bullock and Associates.
Mark chose Canterbury University after a couple of visits to Christchurch, one for the wedding of his brother who was studying engineering.
“I preferred Christchurch to Wellington as a city and the campus was good. The students were in one place, not spread out all over the hills. I liked the flavour of Canterbury in terms of student life and had a girlfriend at the time going there so that was a good reason.
“I was originally going to do commerce then decided to do law because I liked the idea of championing the cause for the underdog.
“I did a lot of criminal stuff early on and enjoyed that. But as I have got older my enthusiasm for that has diminished and I’m doing other things.”
Man of action
A keen rugby follower, Mark played lock at school and No. 8 blindside flanker at university. He played in age grade rep teams in Whanganui and a couple of years in under-21 teams in Christchurch.
“This is the first year I haven’t coached rugby. I’ve been coaching my son’s rippa rugby team until this year. I coached them from under-6 to under-10.”
When he returned to Whanganui, Mark took up rowing to get fit for rugby and ended up staying with rowing for about six years, making selection for a New Zealand Colts rowing team.
“I changed my focus from rugby to rowing but didn’t get selected for some senior crews so flagged that and went back to rugby.
“Then I went to multi-sport, I did the Coast to Coast in a team and did the two-day individual event after that – in 2003 or 2004.
“The first year I did it with a rowing mate and next year did the two-day event by myself. I couldn’t tell you where I got but I finished.
“I got into cycling after that and did the 160km race round Lake Taupo a couple of times – I didn’t do any good but finished.”
He took up squash three years ago, playing in masters interclub competition.
With a bach at Kuratau on the western side of Lake Taupo, he is a keen fly fisherman, as well as enjoying sea fishing off Whanganui.
“I tried fly fishing at secondary school and couldn’t think of anything more boring but as I got older my view changed. A couple of mates were into it so I hired some gear, gave it a go and got bitten by the bug. Standing in a freezing cold river on a shitty day is better than being at work.”
Married to school teacher Fiona, the couple have three daughters and a son, aged from eight to 13.
After favouring a series of Pajeros, he now has a late model 7-seater Audi Q7 SUV to cart the family to Taupo, where his Buccaneer speed boat lives when it’s not “dragging kids around on biscuits and water skis”.
“Taupo is our holiday spot. We haven’t been overseas for years.”
Enjoying motorbike riding – Mark and his son go trail riding together – he has had a couple of Harley Davidsons, five or six dirt bikes and currently rides a Kawasaki 450.
“I get a bit of a hard time with the shed. It looks a bit like a sports shop with bikes, gun cabinets, fishing gear, paddle boards, motor bikes and loads of stuff.”
And a keen shooter
Mark is an enthusiastic duck shooter and, with half a dozen mates, has access to a well-stocked dam.
“We had a good opening day but it is a funny season. There’s so much water around and with all the cropping there’s so much for them to choose from, so they’re not coming back to the dams as much.”
Hunting for the past 10 years – and a keen clay target shooter - he’s “been into the bush a few times”.
“I don’t know if I would call it deer stalking but I have friends who have farms and forestry blocks, have done a do a bit of deer hunting and been involved in control of goats in forests.”
After using seven or eight different calibres, Mark’s favourite “go to” hunting rifle is a Remington .270, fitted with a Bushnell scope, complete with rain guard for shooting in the rain.
“My first hunting rifle was a .270 and I tried lots of others before coming back to it. I also have a 7mm Remington magnum and a .22-250. A few of us load our own ammunition.”
Heavy metal kid
A fan of 1970s and 1980s music, Mark likes the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and saw Bruce Springsteen on his recent tour. “I don’t play any instruments but in my youth we thought we were heavy metallers”.
“I go through stages where I might read three or four books in a row and then not read for a while. I’m going through a stage of not reading at the moment.”
“I like thriller and spy stuff. I have a Jack Reacher that I haven’t started yet; I liked Greg Hurwitz’ Orphan X series, and Paula Hawkins’ Girl on the Train.
“Fiona and I went to movies a lot before we had kids, it’s a good night out. I like Quentin Tarantino films - Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, all of his … There’s nothing to watch on TV.
“We have a Labrador called Meg, who is not a duck retriever. I had a male one who was keen but when he ran out of ducks he brought in the decoys which caused a few problems with everyone else.
“And the kids have goldfish and tropical fish.
“My dinner guests would be family who aren’t with us anymore and I’d serve up a bit of venison. But I would probably also go for some pork because my wife doesn’t like pork so I don’t get it very often.
“Our family has always been into construction and contracting so if I wasn’t a lawyer I would probably be doing something along those lines - engineering or building.
“Fiona says I should have been a builder or an architect or something to do with building. Where people don’t hate you.
“People used to listen to their lawyers and doctors, now they don’t seem to want to listen to anyone.”