New Zealand Law Society - Long distance wheelman made magazine centrefold

Long distance wheelman made magazine centrefold

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Auckland sole practitioner Wayne Thompson paints oils for peace, fly-fishes for fun, then cycles across mountainous Europe because it is there.

Hobbies are an important part of Wayne’s life. “Most weekends, besides reading, which I personally find important and valuable, I am road cycling.

“I cycle a couple of times during the week, anything from 50 to 150km. I’m one of those crazy weekend warriors.

Gary Wayne (Wayne) Thompson
Entry to law
Graduated BA, LLB, LLM, Post Graduate Diploma in Applied Theology from Auckland University. Admitted in 1983.
Sole practitioner in Auckland.
Speciality area
General practice.

“Last year I organised a trip with a dozen of my riding buddies, who are all very good cyclists, and we rode the length of Switzerland from Lake Geneva to Lake Constance, about 800km.

“It included about 10,000 metres of climbing so we probably rode up the equivalent of Mt Everest. This is not a poor man’s sport, these are all high-end guys in professions and it’s very expensive.

Wayne Thompson
Wayne Thompson

“I like to get a package deal, so our luggage is carted between hotels, we get top quality bikes, the routes provided. We get on our bikes in the morning, ride for the day and relax in our hotels at night.

“Next year I’ve set up with a group of guys to cycle across France from the north-west to the south-east - about 1,500km over two weeks.

“We’ll cycle 120 to 140km a day across the Massif Central plateau. I’m looking forward to that. I’ve cycled France before, done the Pyrenees, the Alps, part of the Tour de France route.

“One time when we went as a group of about 25 we put a pin in the calendar in June and everyone had to find their way there. We went to Lake Annecy in the French Alps.

“The Tour de France was coming through Lake Annecy the week we were there. We got up on our bikes and rode through ahead of the cyclists for about three hours. It was a hard grind, then the helicopters were hovering over the top, followed by the support vehicles.

“They have all the razzmatazz in front, then the peloton came through right within shoulder distance of us. That was a very exciting day.”

Wayne often rides from Auckland to Coromandel on weekends, or to the Central Plateau. “The ride on Ruapehu to the car park is tough. You are doing about 8km/h, just enough to keep moving.”

The one-time engineer

From a non-legal family, Wayne did humanities, science and maths at high school and seemed quite capable at that so he thought engineering was where he would be well placed, and worked as a civil engineer for a while.

“After a couple of years and sitting the exams and getting through I realised that’s probably not the environment that best suited my temperament and my interests. I also got more interested in the humanities.

“I found myself at lunchtimes walking into bookshops and looking at history books. I decided to go off and do a BA in geography and sociology.

“As I was working through the BA I thought I had to have a meal ticket at the end of it - I’m not going back to do engineering because that really wasn’t me.

“I had to start thinking specifically about what I would do that would provide an income later. I thought about doing town planning – there were small professional schools back then. I thought about architecture because I am interested in lines and paint in my spare time.

“Then a university friend - in a serendipitous moment - suggested law school. I had no background in law in terms of family and there were no lawyers in the family.

Wayne Thompson

“My Dad – who died in 2005 – was an orphan and was self-taught. There was no academia or scholarship in the family. Dad was a tradesperson, of humble origin, a roofing contractor, Mum was a very good seamstress and sought after for some of the high-end stuff. I have three half brothers and one full brother.”

Wayne put in applications for town planning, architecture and law school, and was accepted for all three. “I elected to go to law school which was a completely left field type of approach.

“It has turned out to be the best thing that has happened to me. It suits my temperament, my interests in helping people and the work is the sort of work that meets my criteria in terms of being stimulating. Being a lawyer is a constant learning curve, new legislation, new ideas, new problems.”

Wayne worked in a couple of law firms to get some grounding, including in the patent attorney field. “But it is a specialised field and I found it didn’t quite work for me, dealing with one type of client. I enjoyed it but I had to work out where I was going.

“I was into career changes early on; 30 years ago that took a bit of confidence, stepping out into the unknown. Then I moved into general practice and setting up on my own after three or four years.

“You tend to reflect what comes in the door. Being a sole practitioner people might think it’s fairly low level but I get some very stimulating work and I work with barristers where it’s something out of my normal skill set.”

Applied theology

Married for 38 years to Juanita - a former registered nurse and midwife, who eventually agreed to work for Wayne – the couple have three children.

“Aaron is a professional gamer and has some ranking in the world in the League of Legends. Rhys was born the day I commenced my own practice and has just finished his LLM and Natasha is doing bachelor of music, a BA in psychology and is now training in speech therapy.”

Not many lawyers would have a qualification in applied theology and Wayne’s interest in theology comes from the idea it is faith seeking understanding.

“It’s putting some structure round one’s personal faith journey and as a Christian it’s given me better understanding. I went to one of the local seminaries while I was working. I took half a day or a day off out of the practice and would go off and do my courses.

“My wife and I travel a lot and we often go to the great churches. We’ve been to the Great Mosque in Paris.

“I also do a bit of indoor rowing for fitness and have been passionate about fly-fishing over the years.

Wayne Thompson with his grandson
Wayne Thompson with his grandson

“I got into the centrefold of New Zealand Geographic magazine, a lovely fishing shot of me hooking a trout. It’s my claim to fame - getting into the centrefold of a magazine but with my clothes on.

“I’ve been painting in oils for 10 years, it’s a lovely peaceful thing to do. I did a bit of drawing before that. I do mainly portraits and landscapes.

“I don’t exhibit because people want to buy them. You invest so much of yourself in them it becomes a little hard to part with. They are worth more in a personal value than monetary.

“Family is very important to me and I have spent a lot of time with my wife and children, and now with our first grandchild, Rhys’ son Mateo (above), who is coming up for 20 months and lives nearby.

“I’ve had the lifestyle that many would envy, I guess. I walk to work and walk home at lunchtime every day. I leave home about ten after nine and start at half past nine, done that for 31 years.

“So I am able to watch this little boy growing up.”

Travel as education

“We have gone away every year for the last 20, and took the children when they were young. We consider travel an important part of their education, learning other cultures so you don’t become too parochial.

“We have been to North America, Egypt, the UK, France, Germany and just come back from Spain and Portugal. I love France and go back there regularly.

“We’ve also travelled Asia extensively, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. My wife worked as a midwife in Cambodia with the refugees before we got married, when the Khmer Rouge were running riot. She worked for World Vision looking after children.

“I’m not musical - daughter Natasha is. One of my great grandfathers wrote music and sung in the church choir, maybe that’s the gene she picked up on.

“I like listening to a lot of French music – in French, and like baroque, Mozart, Turkish music, The Beatles, Katie Melua. I grew up on pop stuff but also like Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Swan Lake, which was calming stuff when I was at university.

“I read more non-fiction or historical novels. One of my favourite books is Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, which is set in occupied France during World War II and is centred on a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths eventually cross.

“In the book her father builds her a little model of Paris so she can feel where the streets are and that helps her to navigate. They live across the road from the Natural History Museum. When we went to Paris recently, my wife came up with an apartment in the same street, overlooking the museum.

“I’ve re-read Robert Seethaler’s A Whole Life and Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. And I have just finished The Great Partnership: Science Religion and the Search for Meaning by Jonathan Sacks which is interesting to those who want are interested in things. He is a giant of an intellect and I’ve read many of his books.

“We saw the Elton John movie Rocketman. I like his music, he has huge talent. It opened our eyes and gave us a deeper and more sympathetic understanding of the man.

“With television I prefer to watch National Geographic and History channels and the BBC news.


“We have goldfish in a pond in the garden – which saves me the hassle of taking them for walks.

“My car is a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel, which is ideal for going up tricky roads to get to fly fishing.

“We have a holiday home at Waihi Beach in Coromandel, which suits the family, and is an understated holiday destination.

“For a fleeting moment while doing my BA and studying sociology and geography I thought I might be better suited with being a social worker. I’m glad I didn’t go there, it would be a frustrating career move because I am a results orientated person.

“Outcomes drive me.  I thoroughly enjoy being a lawyer. My passions and interests are more people orientated.

“We are blessed with life and we should use it, but be careful with it. Plato said an unexamined life is not worth living. I’m not one who coasts through life. I think about what can I do to make the day of the people around me better.

“I limit my work to provide a balanced life and have watched my children grow as I have been merely down the road from school and could be available.

“My mother is 87 and she is out doing voluntary work, helping people who are much younger. I’m like her in many regards. I have this in my DNA, I expect, in terms of enjoying helping people which my work enables me to do at this time.

“When I retire, and it’s a little way off yet, I would like to find some meaningful way to contribute to the community, to people’s lives. Lawyers have many skills that we can use to help those who don’t have them or need a helping hand.”

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