Dean of the faculty of law at Auckland University, Professor John Frederick Northey, who died at the age of 63 in October 1983, gave more than three decades of service to the law school he joined as senior lecturer in 1951.
The man who in 1971 became the first person to be admitted to the degree of Doctor of Laws by examination was appointed professor of public law in 1954 and dean of the faculty in 1965.
Professor Northey was a member of the university council for 12 years, a member of several professional boards and of the university senate. He served as assistant, deputy and acting vice-chancellor.
But his activities extended well beyond the university. He was a founder member of the Legal Research Foundation in 1956 and a member of the Public and Administrative Law Reform Committee for 16 years, eight of which he spent as the committee’s chairman.
Professor Northey began his studies at Victoria University in 1936 but completed his degree at Auckland in 1939 followed by a master’s degree two years later. He obtained his doctorate of jurisprudence from the University of Toronto in 1951.
Returning to New Zealand he became assistant secretary to the Cabinet before leaving to take up the lecturing position at Auckland University.
In recent years Professor Northey had held visiting appointments to the University of the South Pacific and in 1979 the Cook Islands Government appointed him as its constitutional adviser.
His published written works – recognised throughout New Zealand and overseas – include texts on company law, commercial law, contract law and many articles, comments and reviews in Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and United Kingdom publications.
The Professor is survived by his wife, three sons and two daughters.
This obituary was first published in LawTalk 184, 2 November 1983, page 4.