Lawyering in Masterton
The Wairarapa is one of New Zealand’s gems. From the Pukaha Mount Bruce wildlife centre in the north of the district to the Putangirua Pinnacles in the south, there is a wide variety of activity and scenes.
In this issue of LawTalk, we look at lawyering in the district’s main town, Masterton.
Masterton lawyers are a very important part of the Law Society’s Wellington branch, of which I was President until recently, when I moved to the role of Law Society Vice-President for Wellington.
I have valued my contact with Masterton lawyers during my time in office and have learned much from the particular perspectives they bring to both the branch and the wider Law Society. Wairarapa practitioners have a well-run system to ensure representation on the Wellington branch Council, and I was thrilled to also see a Wairarapa lawyer, Jessie Hunt, elected last year as “an ordinary Wellington branch Council member”.
A number of indicators demonstrate that Masterton may be thriving.
One is a recent report in the Wairarapa Times-Age that economic activity in Masterton is 3% up on the same time last year.
Another indicator is just how busy the real estate market is at present. This is highlighted by Property Law Service Ltd managing solicitor Christian Jorgensen. He talks about the market being “rampant” and notes that the slight slow-down of a month ago was because of a lack of properties for sale. That resulted in real estate agents “running around door knocking trying to find new listings”.
In many ways, Masterton is like many New Zealand towns that are surrounded by farms, with farming providing an important component of the local economy. However, it is not the only industry, with viticulture, tourism and other activities also significant contributors to the town’s economy. While that aspect of life is shared by many other towns, Masterton has its own unique features, as does the whole Wairarapa district.
The town is home to many excellent lawyers too. In the feature we have highlighted just a few, but the fact is that we have a very strong bar in the town. As an in-house lawyer myself, I am also interested to note that we have at least one in-house lawyer who is based in Masterton, Gordon Wong. Until relatively recently we also had another, as Andra Mobberley worked in-house in Wellington, commuting by train from Masterton until she started practising as a barrister in October last year.
Collegiality among the profession is another strength of the area. The bar is close and extremely supportive. In recent times they have rallied to support the children of highly regarded local practitioner Louise Elder. One of the important annual fixtures is the very long-established bar dinner. I have tried to find out how long the bar dinner has been on the Masterton legal calendar. This year’s Wairarapa bar dinner is its 64th. “Townies” are always most welcome at this fabulous evening, and for details see Wellington e-brief or contact the Wellington branch.
Like many Wellingtonians, I thoroughly enjoy visits to the Wairarapa and to Masterton. My only regret is that I don’t get to travel over the Rimutaka Hill often enough.