Former Maori Land Court Judge Kevin Cull died in Hamilton on 21 January 2005.
He was born in Dunedin and, on leaving school, became a clerk in the Dunedin Court, completing some law units before conscription into the army in 1941. After serving in Egypt, Italy and later Japan, he returned to Dunedin and completed a law degree.
As a Catholic with no family connections in the legal world, initially he found it difficult to get employment but eventually was taken on by a Cromwell firm. In the 1960s he took up the offer of partnership in a Gisborne firm and there became expert in Maori land law, which led to his appointment to the Maori Land Court bench in 1971, based in Hamilton. In that role, he travelled extensively throughout New Zealand, including the Chatham Islands, and he learned Maori so he could better serve the court.
He also served as an appellate judge in the Cook Islands.
A Waikato Times obituary described him as being driven “by a strong sense of right and wrong, thirst for justice and abiding compassion”. It also said “he earned a reputation as a hard-working and compassionate judge who endeavoured to right ancient wrongs…”.
Kevin Cull is survived by Pat, his wife of 56 years, daughter Helen Cull QC of Wellington, son John and four grandchildren.
This obituary was first published in LawTalk 640, 28 February 2005, page 6.