New Zealand Law Society - Rajan Rai

Rajan Rai

Rajan Rai

Last week a long serving member, friend and colleague of the Taranaki legal community was farewelled. Rajan has been remembered fondly by those who worked with him across a career as practising lawyer spanning 40 years. Rajan was admitted to the bar in June 1983.

Close peer and friend, Patrick Mooney of Mooney and Webb lawyers shared some insights into the man and the lawyer who was held in high regard throughout the region, least of all for his advocacy both for the profession and for youth.

Patrick shares Rajan’s path into the profession and New Zealand as an extraordinary one that no doubt shaped his choice of career and strong sense of justice, particularly for young people.

Rajan and his family arrived in New Zealand in 1972 as refugees from Idi Amin’s Uganda. The mistreatment and exile from a country he loved perhaps contributed to the considerable empathy that Rajan showed toward clients, family, friends and colleagues.

Most of Rajan’s career was based in Stratford and like many rural practitioners he would have described himself as a general practitioner, however in Rajan’s case this included a focus on litigation in both Criminal and Family jurisdictions. Within this there was an obvious crossover between his Youth Advocacy work and his lawyer for Child appointments. Rajan was also involved in various organisations outside the Court environment including being a trustee for Kaponga based ‘S.T.A.R.T. Taranaki’

Rajan was also involved in Law Society representative functions. A Council Member of more than 20 years, Rajan also served as Taranaki Branch President for four years. 

Following a 2000 merger of the firms, Buchanan Butler Rai with Till Henderson King, Rajan has been a highly valued partner alongside Lynda Manning. Lynda still expects Rajan to walk through the door any day as the tightly knit team that includes Rajan’s assistant of more than 30 years struggle to come to terms with the reality of his passing. “Rajan kept the severity of his illness very close and was still engaging with clients and the office until only weeks before his passing,” says Lynda.

Described as a fierce advocate, especially in acting as lawyer for child, Lynda said Rajan saw the good in everyone and was always the first to share in the success of others. This even extended to the golf course where Lynda describes Rajan as being more excited than her on the day she hit a hole in one on the St Andrews course in Hamilton. “Rajan loved the collegiality of the profession and was a keen conference goer, moreso if there was a good course nearby which would result in us being booked in a day early for most conferences.”

Lynda acknowledges the incredible support of the team and long serving, exceptional assistants Michelle and Kellie while the firm mourns the loss of a “great mate.”

Rajan is survived by his wife Sally and three children and will be greatly missed by the wider community, colleagues and friends.