New Zealand Law Society - Brian James Blacktop, 1939 - 2007

Brian James Blacktop, 1939 - 2007

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Brian Blacktop's legal career was spent entirely with the Public Trust, an association spanning 48 years.

Mr Blacktop was educated at St Peters College in Auckland where he was Dux and head prefect in 1954. From there he went to medical school at Otago University but soon changed tack, returning to Auckland and in 1959 he started work as a law clerk at the Public Trust Office.

Studying law part-time at the University of Auckland while working, Brian graduated with an LLB in 1963. He was admitted at the High Court in Auckland in the same year and held a practising certificate continuously for the rest of his career.

While at the Public Trust's Auckland office Brian Blacktop joined in the cricket games routinely conducted on top of the Public Trust Office Building and, it is said, was sometimes seen running furiously down Albert Street - and even occasionally Queen Street - chasing the ball.

He was Public Trust district solicitor in Takapuna from 1965 to 1968, moved to Palmerston North, and then in 1973 to Wellington where he was appointed head office solicitor. In 1981 he was appointed Deputy Public Trustee, a position he held until his retirement in March 1999.

His senior management work at the Public Trust coincided with the very challenging time of great change in economic and public policy which took place in the 1980s and 1990s. Following retirement, Brian Blacktop continued working at the Public Trust offering legal support to the chief executive during the Public Trust's transformation from a government department to a Crown Owned Entity, including applying his talents and experience to assisting with the exacting task of drafting the Public Trust Act 2001.

Brian Blacktop was active in community and church affairs throughout his life. He was on Viard College's board of governors in the early 1980s and was deputy chair in 1983. A member of the Tawa Rotary Club from 1985, he organised and managed the club's Hepatitis B vaccination programme for Tawa school children in 1989. In 1994 he was elected the president of the club and in 2002 was made a Paul Harris Fellow for his services to Rotary.

He servied on the archidocesan administration board of the Catholic Church from 1981 until 2006. During that time he oversaw a number of important projects including the creation of the new Palmerston North diocese which was split from the Wellington archdiocese, and the passing of the Bishops of New Zealand Empowering Act. He was recognised by the Archidiocese in 2000 for his services to the church and both Cardinal Williams and Archbishop Dew were present at his funeral, the latter delivering a eulogy.

Brian's son David spoke of his father's liking for "robust discussion":

"One of Dad's favourite pastimes was to argue any issue even where there was no argument to be had; it is trite to say that a discussion with Dad was an intellectual challenge. Having said that, Dad never had arguments, rather he had discussions, albeit that these discussions varied in their intensity and robustness."

Brian Blacktop was 70. He is survived by his wife Margaret, daughters Kathie, Patricia and Mary, and son David.

This was first published in the Wellington District Law Society's monthly newsletter, Council Brief.

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