New Zealand Law Society - Archibald Burnett Sievewright, 1890 - 1978

Archibald Burnett Sievewright, 1890 - 1978

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Image of AB Sievewright
Image of AB Sievewright

With the death at 87 of Mr AB Sievewright, another well known lawyer is lost to the city.

Noted for his independent, resolute conduct of cases, Mr Sievewright spent 61 years in practice, and had been in retirement for only two years at his death. At the age of 80 he was conducting Supreme Court litigation with more vigour than some half his age.

He was educated at The Terrace School, Wellington and Victoria University. While at university he was challenged to enter the inter-university sporting tournament, and thus began a life-long interest in walking. In 1911 he won the university mile walk with a record time which stood for many years. In 1913 he set a New Zealand record for the mile and in the same season broke the three-mile record.

He gained his law degree from Victoria in 1914, and was admitted to the bar in 1915. A proud exhibit in his office was his degree certificate, signed by the then Chief Justice Sir Robert Stout. For four and a half years he fought in the First World War, rising to the rank of captain when in Flanders in 1917 with the Wellington Infantry Regiment.

He immediately made his mark as a lawyer on his return to Wellington. The caricature of him dates from 1920, and when published was accompanied by a newspaper writer's verse which prophesied he would soon be seen at the front of his profession.

He maintained his interest in sport, first as New Zealand representative in the one and three mile walks at the 1920 Australasian tournament; and upon his retirement from competition became involved in coaching and administration.

In the Second World War he served as a major and was a Judge Advocate in the Legal division.

Until the mid-60s he was a familiar sight walking from his home in Fitzherbert Terrace to his city office. At weekends he relaxed on an Akatarawa property where he rode horses and planed 200 acres of pine trees. His son Mr NB Sievewright joined him in practice and more recently Mr PJ Quinn. At his retirement he was the oldest solicitor then practising in Wellington.

He is survived by his widow, three children, and eight grandchildren.

This was first published in the July 1978 issue of Council Brief, the newsletter of the Wellington District Law Society.

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