New Zealand Law Society - Timaru good for sport, business and IHC stalwart

Timaru good for sport, business and IHC stalwart

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By Jock Anderson

Anthony John (Tony) Shaw
Entry to law
Graduated LLB from Canterbury University in 1978. Admitted 1979. 
Managing partner at Timpany Walton, Timaru. 
Speciality area
Business litigation, employment law, civil litigation, property relationship disputes and alternative dispute resolution.
Tony Shaw
Tony Shaw

Keen soccer player Tony Shaw found a job in Timaru after short stints in Christchurch and Sydney – not thinking he would establish his legal career in South Canterbury.

He’s come a long way from his first job spending 18 months writing desk files for courts manager Mark Cooper on all Christchurch courts staff and how they did their jobs.

“My plan was to do a couple of years in Timaru then move on, but I landed in a good firm and it took off from there,” Tony says.

Thirty-five years later, and now managing partner at Timpany Walton, he says Timaru has been good to him.

From acting for both gangs at the height of Timaru’s notorious bikie gang wars of the mid-1990s, and doing a lot of litigation and commercial work, he has developed a varied practice.

And also found time to make major contributions in other fields – as chairman of the South Island masters games, chairman of Ritchies Transport Holdings – New Zealand’s biggest privately owned passenger transport business - and past New Zealand president of IHC.

Having played in his local soccer club and in southern league football in Christchurch, Tony eventually found himself on the trust developing Timaru’s Aoraki sports stadium.

That also led to the South Island masters games organising committee, eventually becoming chairman for about eight years.

Based in Timaru, the annual South Island masters games is held there every second year and every other year in another provincial centre, currently Nelson.

“When it started there was a concern Christchurch would come along, try to make it bigger and better and take it away from us. But Christchurch did not do too well when it held the games; it was too big.

“The masters’ suits smaller centres and succeeds in more compact towns, so we franchised it. We can pull in 3,500 people over nine days which works very well for places such as Timaru and Nelson – where the next games are in October.”

It was as a young lawyer 32 years ago Tony was asked to go on the local IHC committee. “It was a stage when committees were mostly made up of women who had a child with an intellectual disability – so I was an outsider.”

“When I became chairman of the local branch, IHC had a huge council of about 50 branches and an unwieldly structure.”

Distinguished businessman Sir Rod Deane was IHC president at the time and encouraged Tony to join a new board which conducted a major transformation of the organisation, and eventually to step up as IHC president.

“Rod set about sorting out IHC and you can’t say no to someone like Rod Deane.

“At the time there was a lot of pressure from IHC to close all the old psychopaedic hospitals. There was mainstreaming of people out of large institutions into normal houses to try to get them to live normal lives in the community and getting schoolchildren with disabilities into mainstream education.

“I believe it has been extremely successful.

“Working with IHC has been worthwhile and a real interest outside the law.

“Intellectual disability compulsory care legislation has brought about major changes in how people with disabilities are dealt with under the criminal justice system.

“There was recognition in 2003 that you can’t hope to deal with people with serious intellectual disability issues, and who commit crime, by sending them away to prison.

“Just as there is general recognition that these people live in the community and are part of the community, the justice system has to have mechanisms to deal with them.

“Many lawyers and judges had no understanding of the issues and were trying to deal with them against a background of lack of knowledge. That is slowly changing and getting better.

“Judges are getting training in this area and recent research at Otago University on how the justice system deals with people with intellectual disabilities is helpful.”

Tony picked up Ritchies as a client after a conflict with the transport company’s Christchurch lawyers led to a two week trial.

He did a lot of work for Ritchies – a 100% Kiwi-owned family firm – was invited on to the board and recently became chairman.

“It’s easy being involved in a company that has been extremely successful and grown significantly in the time I have been on the board …"

Just three hours drive away, Wanaka – where he bought a house 20 years ago - is his playground for water skiing, golf, mountain-biking and snow skiing.

His oldest daughter is a lawyer in London, his second daughter is an engineer in London and his son is lawyering with Christchurch firm Wynn Williams.

“Timaru has been very kind to me, it is a great place to bring up kids and this was a good firm to come to.

“It produced a good income, we punch well above our weight and I have given a lot back to Timaru …”

Jock Anderson has been writing and commenting on New Zealand lawyers and New Zealand's courts for several decades. He also writes the weekly Caseload column for the New Zealand Herald. Contact Jock at

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