By Marie Dyhrberg
When Tuarangi Michael Junior – Tua – died at Auckland Hospital on 12 October, one month before his 28th birthday, following a tragic accident, the profession lost a promising young lawyer and a superb role model.
Tua graduated from Waitakere College in 1988 and went on to achieve a double degree from the University of Auckland. In May 1994 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a Bachelor of Laws. Prior to his graduation he was a Stage 1 Philosophy Tutor and following graduation he was a one-to-one tutor for undergraduate law students on general aspects of the law. While at university he was an executive member of the Auckland Cook Islands Student Association.
Tua did not have the time he deserved to achieve greatness in the law. But those who came to know him saw the seeds of future greatness.
In Tua we saw a special quality, an exceptional sensitivity and understanding that would have enabled him to develop into a great lawyer. Tua strongly believed that as a lawyer he had two constitutional duties – to be well versed in the law and to effect that knowledge responsibly, with integrity and with excellence.
The career path Tua chose, to be a defence lawyer, gave him a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction. You could see the joy and pride he felt when he did well, when the result he achieved was beyond the expected, and his sadness and anxiety when justice was denied. He always gave his best no matter what.
All good lawyers know the importance of humour and warmth, particularly in the most dire of cases, the cases that cause contempt in the community. Tua never lost his gentle and delightful sense of humour and I was grateful for this on many occasions.
This young man managed to fill every hour of the day given to him. When he was not practising law, he spent hours training for his sports whether it was weights, rugby, tennis, surfing, cycling, swimming or running, combining all these sporting talents into his triathlons and marathons.
Tua was proud of his Cook Islands heritage. He had the Atiu spirit and the Aitutaki dancing legs. Often he would play and sing tamure music. He participated in “Youth at Risk” seminars conducted by the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs.
Tua’s philosophy to life was “Go hard, seize the day”. And he did. It is a matter of deep regret that he did not have the time or opportunity to show us all what he was capable of giving, of becoming all that he was so clearly capable of being.
Tua is remembered with affection and respect by those who had the opportunity to meet him and see him work in the short time this intelligent and passionate young man had to demonstrate his skills, his commitment to excellence. He was a credit to his family, his community and to the profession.
Tua, in his work and in his life, was a man of substance, a truly gentle, lovely, gifted young man who gave so much to so many in such a short time.
This obituary was first published in LawTalk 510, 16 November 1998, page 5.