By Jock Andersson
- Trevor Kinred (Trevor) Quirk
- Entry to law
- Graduated LLB from Canterbury University 1975. Admitted 1976.
- Principal of Layburn Hodgins, Christchurch.
- Speciality area
- Commercial law, conveyancing and family trusts.
Born and bred Christchurch lawyer Trevor Quirk is not one to let the snow melt under his feet.
Not when he relaxes travelling, cruising French waterways, building hefty stone walls, snowboarding, swimming and practising Tai Chi Chuan.
Coming up for 65 in April, the snowboarding fanatic bought the former Freemasons’ Erewhon Lodge in Mt Somers – only 12 minutes from Mt Hutt ski field - for doing-up as a holiday home.
Known by his lawyer son Daniel, who works in the firm, as “the Flying Fossil,” Trevor often sneaks away from work early on a seasonal Friday to snowboard the weekend away.
“I’ve had a few injuries and cut my face up a bit but never broken any bones. I’ve plenty of boarding years ahead of me.”
The son of a carpenter, Trevor turned his hand to recreational stone-masonry – taught by a skilled Epitaph Rider, who in turn was taught by old Scottish and English masons.
“My teacher has worked on a number of historical buildings and is in demand for his skill. I worked with him over weekends for three years building walls with stone from Halswell quarry.
“I enjoy it. Quarry stone is difficult to work with and I use special tungsten chisels from Germany. You need a lot of patience.
“To cut three clean faces is very time consuming and sometimes you can be on a piece of stone and it breaks in half, but there’s no use swearing and cursing … You start again.
“Some substantial walls I built didn’t move a millimetre after the Christchurch earthquakes. The key is always pouring a good foundation.”
Stone is dynamited at the quarry, then picked up and loaded onto a truck, usually loading two tonnes at a time.
“While carrying stone you are also walking across shredded stone which requires strength and balance … You have to be nimble on your feet and have the strength to carry the stone – it’s better than the gym…
“Stonemasonry keeps you fit and you get forearms like Popeye. It’s very satisfying work, chipping away and completely switching off from the law.”
Trevor’s enthusiasm for relaxing comes from his philosophy of having three months off work every year – and he encourages others in his firm to take as much time off as they can.
“I had travelled for a time before I started work and decided from the start I would have three months off. We go away in August/September and again in January/February.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in South America and Africa. Eight years ago we bought an old steel-hulled cruiser and spend two months a year on the inland waterways of France.
“It’s a simple boat and provides transport, accommodation and a kitchen for me and my wife and we meander round France on connecting waterways, stopping wherever we feel like.”
After graduating, Trevor spent two and a half years in South Africa as a computer programmer, including a spell in Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe – in 1976 when the country was in turmoil before Robert Mugabe took over.
“I came back in 1980 and started practising but it was difficult to get a job then.
“When I was interviewed by Des Hodgins, one of the founders of the firm, he asked me what the most challenging thing I found working as a seagull on the wharf in my law school days.
“I told him it was keeping a straight face when I collected my pay packet … I think that got me the job and I have been here since – with lots of time off…”
In China in 1986, Trevor saw “all the old boys out early in the morning” doing Tai Chi, which he began learning from an elderly Chinese man in Christchurch in 1988, starting at 6 o'clock every morning.
While his firm’s core practice is in commercial law, conveyancing and family trusts, Trevor carved a niche from the late 1980s advising in the motel and hospitality sector.
“The ‘quakes saved the Christchurch motel business. Before that they were struggling as hotels kept dropping their rates and motels could not compete. Now a lot of hotels were destroyed and motels are in clover.
“I encourage everyone at the firm to take good holidays. Having a lot of time off as a lawyer I come back with a fresh eye.
“A lot of lawyers are worn out, get sick of their job and have a jaundiced view of it … Good holidays keep you fresh.
“I like being away but love coming home.”
He swims 2km every lunchtime and doesn’t watch television. “TV stands for time vapouriser.”
“I was expelled from Linwood High because I wasn’t very good with coping with the face of authority. I’m still not very good at it.
“But I don’t think I could do anything else…”
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 email@example.com.