New Zealand Law Society - Emerson man's quite interesting Jamaican bobsled connection

Emerson man's quite interesting Jamaican bobsled connection

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The first lawyer from an accomplished athletic family, Christchurch-born Sam Henry took great inspiration from his fiancé Lucy Peterson's grandfather – retired District and High Court Judge Colin Fraser.

"Colin has been of huge assistance and inspiration in the latter stages of my legal training… He's a lovely guy, in his early 80s and fighting fit…" says Sam.

Samuel Bruce (Sam) Henry
Entry to law
Graduated LLB (First Class Hons) and BA (Politics) from Otago University in 2014. Admitted in 2014. 
Solicitor at Young Hunter, Christchurch. 
Speciality area
Civil litigation and insurance law.
Sam Henry
Sam Henry

Sam and Stephanie Mann, of Duncan Cotterill, representing the Canterbury-Westland region, recently won the New Zealand Law Foundation National Young Lawyers Mooting Competition.

"I enjoy the academic challenge of law."

For Sam it was taking care of unfinished business.

"We got through to the final last year but unfortunately my mooting partner had planned to be overseas at the same time as the national final was held so we didn't get to go through and compete in Wellington…"

This year Sam argued an appeal point on whether or not a person could assign a cause of action that another person had to a third person – "which is quite relevant to the earthquake situation because lots of parties are involved now in taking assignments of claims from other parties… It's an interesting area of law…

"I got a bit of stick at the mooting competition…The regional final was presided over by Justice Grant Hammond and Justice Nick Davidson – a former partner at Young Hunter I worked with before he became a judge…

"The final was judged by Supreme Court judges Dame Susan Glazebrook, Sir Terence Arnold

and Sir William Young, R A Young's son… There was a friendly nudge at insider trading but I took it in my stride…"

Attracted to insurance law by the challenges of litigation, research and an academic component, Sam is a committee member of Young Lawyers Canterbury-Westland.

"I enjoy the academic challenge of law… I like public speaking and the element of communication in person… I always liked doing speeches at school… Going to court is nerve wracking when you first start out…"

The first lawyer in his family and no relation to any of the well-known legal branches of the Henry clan, Sam's parents were both New Zealand athletics representatives.

Mum Karen Forbes-Henry competed in the women's heptathlon at the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games and is still active in sport. Dad Pete competed in the decathlon at the 1990 Games in Auckland and as a member of the New Zealand bobsleigh team was flag bearer at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

His father raced against the famous "Cool Running" Jamaican bobsleigh team at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.

"My brother Jack is doing architecture at Victoria University and he is following in Dad's decathlon footsteps but I never did athletics – I played rugby at school and university and did surf lifesaving, starting out as a nipper…"

A former head boy at Shirley Boys' High School, Sam qualified as a volunteer surf lifesaver at 14 and competed in national competitions for several years, as well as running his own beach patrols at New Brighton and Sumner.

"I am retired now because I can't stand the cold water in the South Island…"

He is a fan of TV show Bondi Rescue, which stars Harrison Reid "my good friend and colleague I used to work with on the beach here…"

"Harrison is a professional life guard and a star of the show… When I started patrolling at Taylor's Mistake (Christchurch) he would come along as a 12-13 year old and hang out with us, he was keen as mustard and now he's the big professional…

"I'm at the beginning of my skiing career – which is not always pleasant – and my favourite ski areas are Treble Cone and Cardrona…"

He doesn't take his 2010 Toyota Corolla to the ski-fields – "we find another car for that…"

"I enjoy tramping, and have done a couple of the great walks – Stewart Island and Waikaremoana…

"My favourite holiday places are Kaiteriteri – when I have gone since a kid – and Wanaka…"

Central Otago has a special historic attraction for Sam and fiancé Lucy, a junior doctor in Christchurch.

"Lucy's great uncle was given a block of land in the Pisa Range after World War II and made his living rabbiting, among other things, and the Peterson family grew up there…

"I like reading non-fiction and history geared towards the British empire… I like the writing style of English novelist and screen writer Ian (Atonement) McEwen… I'm reading a fantastic book at the moment by Simon Winchester called Pacific, his latest, about the relationship the Pacific has had in world events and the way he has woven the thread and relevance to world events…

"I usually binge on good English TV dramas, especially The Night Manager, adapted from John Le Carre's novel… James Bond with Daniel Craig is my favourite film series…

"Being on Bondi Rescue would be a good alternative career…

"But I would need to swim a bit faster and have skin more susceptible to tanning than burning…

"I started doing commerce at Canterbury University so I could pursue that, but I had such difficulty with the Calculus element of economics which is why I swapped to politics…

"Winston Churchill would be my first choice of dinner guest… and Olympian Jesse Owens and Ed Hillary… I'd serve up salmon but there would be a long wait if I had to catch it…

"In southern style we would have some good craft beers – Emerson's Pilsner from Dunedin is my favourite…

"They were our local near our Harrow Street flat and we would go down on a Friday after noon and fill our flagons up…"

Timaru-based 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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