New Zealand Law Society - Daughter's Dora backing for charcoal barbie bass man

Daughter's Dora backing for charcoal barbie bass man

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Now more of an observer than a player, former bass man with Kiwi surf rock band John Titor and the Time Travellers, Sam Houliston is never far from at least four of his classic bass guitars.

Much to his three-year-old daughter's delight.

Named after the name used on several internet bulletin boards during 2000 and 2001 by a poster claiming to be a time traveller from 2036, Sam describes the band as "a rag tag bunch of musicians I've kicked round with…"

"When I was younger I played faster aggressive punk rock but have slowed down as I've got older.

"Playing with the Titors a couple of years ago doing surf rock covers was great fun … But it gets to a point when you don't want to stay up all night and lug equipment home in the early hours of the morning…"

Samuel Robert (Sam) Houliston
Epsom, Auckland. 
Entry to law
Graduated LLB, BComm from Auckland University in 2004. Admitted 2006. 
Associate at Wynyard Wood, Highbrook, Auckland. 
Speciality area
Civil and criminal litigation, employment, health and safety and ACC disputes.

A legal generalist, Sam was recently made an associate at Wynyard Wood and is based in the firm's Highbrook office in south Auckland.

A bike accident which broke his front teeth put an end to his youthful pursuit of the saxophone and a third form school friend who wanted to start a band got Sam into the bass guitar.

"Although I'm not actively in a band at the moment, the bass has been part of my life ever since … Having bigger hands it was a natural outlet and easier to play."

Sam Houliston
Sam Houliston

Sam's record collection – which includes some of his father in law's inherited favourites - goes from classical to heavy metal, old blues, The Who, Cream, reggae, soul, trash metal punk rock, The Clash, Pogues and Buddy Guy.

"You've got to have all the staples covered…"

A fan of charismatic English rock bass man Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister from MotorHead, Sam's treasured bass guitars include his "go to" Fender Jazz, a 1980s Squire Precision Bass – "a work horse" – and a pair of 1980s Ibanez Blazers, pumping through a New Zealand made 1970s Jansen Bassman valve amplifier from the stable of the late Bruce Eady.

"They take up a lot of room but are too painful to get rid of," says Sam. These days he plays regularly with a friend who has an electronic drum kit – "a lot easier to cart everything around."

"My most regular audience is my three-year-old daughter who is now dancing in time … But an auntie bought her a damned Dora the Explorer Singing Star Microphone … and she likes to sing…"

A big bloke and a Breakers fan, he enjoys weekly social basketball with the Bones team – "an aging bunch whose average age keeps creeping up."

"I'm a hustle bustle forward … I'm a big fella and get in the way of the quicker ones trying to get round me.

"And I love my barbecues … I prefer charcoal to gas … My favourite is a Bodum FyrKat…

"There's nothing better than to get out with the charcoal at the weekend … I can even set up in the carport and barbecue all year round…

"You could say I'm big on barbecues … the barbecue is a big social aspect of our lives, breaking bread and having a couple of beers…"

Away from law books Sam enjoys the poetry of Nobel literature prize winner the late Seamus Heaney, which was introduced to him by his English teacher mother.

He also appreciates the writing of the late Stephen Ambrose – Band of Brothers and Citizen Soldiers.

"Much to my embarrassment I regularly watch Shortland Street because as part of our marriage agreement my wife - a secondary school teacher - has control of the remote.

"And I can't help watching train 'wreck tv' because it is so bad…

"We enjoy holidays at Muriwai, and friends have a place at Waihi beach where we have a gypsy setup of caravans and barbecues…"

His uncle Judge Dan Finnigan was an Employment Court judge who also sat in Rarotonga, but Sam describes himself as another one of the many who "fell into law," without any family influence and says when he finished school he didn't expect to become a litigator.

"It was something that happened on the way … I got a job out of university, not legally related, working for a local body dealing with health and safety matters.

"My then boss paid for me to do professionals then sent me out to get a proper job.

"I started at the Department of Labour, not knowing what I was getting into. They said 'here's a brief case, there's the court, good luck, don't screw things up'.

"I had fanciful dreams of being a rock star but that's beyond me now … Not for me…"

With a three-year-old and another baby due in March, Sam says he would probably steer his children toward law if they asked.

"It's a good occupation but I wouldn't push them. I would give them my good and bad views of the profession.

"An older cousin who went to university before me and who had several careers, put it into perspective for me. He said to use university to figure out what I wanted to do.

"And law is a versatile degree, it sets you up with skills to problem solve."

Jock Anderson has been writing and commenting on New Zealand lawyers and New Zealand's courts for most of his career in journalism. Contact Jock at

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