New Zealand Law Society - (James) Colin Handley 1935 - 2014

(James) Colin Handley 1935 - 2014

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Colin was a stalwart in the Bay of Plenty legal community for more than three decades – working in Rotorua, Whakatane and Opotiki.  

Colin was born in Auckland, but ventured south during his tertiary education. He studied law at Auckland, Wellington and Otago. He was admitted at the High Court in Wellington in 1960.

Colin made his way north ending up a partner in the Whakatane firm Osborne Handley Gray and Richardson.

A brain haemorrhage, in the 1970s, meant he had to take a break from law but returned in the early 1980s. Colin initially worked for New Zealand Guardian Trust and then for Michael Quirke. After Michael went into partnership with Alan Trotter and Peter Lewis (Trotter, Quirke & Lewis) Colin would often work for the firm. He was made a partner in the mid-1980s. 

Trotter, Quirke & Lewis merged with McKechnie Morrison Shand in 1988 and three years’ later became McKechnie Quirke and Lewis, which merged with Holland Beckett in February 2014, where Colin remained a consultant until he passed away on 9 June 2014.

Peter Lewis, who has been Colin’s law partner for nearly thirty years, says about 15 years ago the partners at McKechnie Quirke and Lewis started to talk with Colin about when he might finish.

“Not because we were anxious for him to finish but he was 60-odd (and that seemed, at the time, to me to be quite old). Colin indicated that he thought he might carry on for about five more years. The five years stayed at five years for the next ten years, then he dropped it to maybe two more years – and there it has stayed,” Peter says.

“I really do not think that he ever wanted to finish – he loved his work, he loved his clients (well, most of them anyway) and he loved the people he worked with. In some ways, I think it is great that he never had to make that final decision” Peter says.

On the Friday prior to his death Colin appeared in the Maori Land Court before Judge Pat Savage delighted to have “a victory on all counts”. 

Colin had made the drive from Rotorua to Opotiki almost every week for over 25 years. The highlight of his visit to Opotiki was frequenting the Masonic Hotel, where he would enjoy a Guinness (or two) with his circle of friends.

He says during their time together Colin assumed responsibility for the firm’s Eastern Bay (Whakatane and particularly, Opotiki) offices.

“While he would let us help out occasionally – usually when off cruising with [his wife Kathy] – he guarded his fiefdom jealously. He was fiercely loyal to the staff in those offices, and to his Rotorua PA Lynette - and I think that the loyalty and the genuine affection which he had for them were reciprocated,” Peter says.

Colin was also a life member of the Rotorua Golf Club, and has been club captain and chairman of the board.

He was a dedicated family man. He is survived by his wife Kathy, children: Margot, Karen, and Grant and step-children Sharon, Steven and Ian, grandchildren: Natasha, Shauna, Liam, Amy, Aaron, Tyler, Alex, Oliver and Daniel and (from Kathy’s side) Julian, Erin, Andrea, Marcus, Logan, Charlie and Jacob, great-grandchildren: Sophie and Arya and Harrison (from Kathy's side).

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