Obituary: Sir Rodney Gallen


Sir Rodney Gallen, a former Court of Appeal Judge who headed some of the most prominent inquiries in New Zealand in the last 30 years, died on Saturday, aged 78.

Born in Wellington on August 12, 1933, Sir Rodney  grew-up mainly on the East Coast and in Hawke's Bay and had a legal career stretching 46 years, although some say it never ended.

After graduating in law from Victoria University he was admitted to the bar in 1953, became a Queen's Counsel in 1978, was made a Judge of the High Court in 1983, and retired from the bench in November 1999, a month before he was Knighted for his services to the profession.

He headed a Commission of Inquiry into the Abbotsford landslip disaster, a 1983 Committee of Inquiry into Procedures at Oakley Hospital, was appointed an independent determinator in the resolution of complaints of abuse from former patients at Lake Alice Hospital, and in 2000 undertook a review of the Police Complaints Authority.

But he had wide-ranging and continuing interests in human rights, conservation and the outdoors, and the Presbyterian Church, being a benefactor and toiler for many trusts and organisations linked to those interests.

He lived for many years in Havelock North, and enjoyed a lot of time in the wilderness of Lake Waikaremoana and the Urewera Forest Park.

He never married, and is survived by a sister, and a range of nieces and nephews.

An old boy of Napier Boys High School, he had a strong interest in Lindisfarne College in Hastings, where he will be remembered by the Sir Rodney Gallen Trophy, presented at the school for services to Kapa Haka, and the Te Whaiti-nui-a-toi Trophy, for the best appreciation of two or more cultures.

His service will be held at the school on Thursday, starting at 1pm.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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