Highly respected barrister John Haigh, QC, died suddenly yesterday after suffering a brain haemorrhage.
Haigh is survived by his wife Susan, and two adult children. He was 65.
During a long and illustrious career, Haigh worked on many high-profile cases including Royal Commissions ranging from the Marsden Point industrial disputes to the Pike River mining disaster.
It was the acquittal he won for former assistant police commissioner Clint Rickards, who was facing a raft of sex charges, that was one of his highest achievements, fellow QC Peter Williams said.
"That was one of his great triumphs, from a forensic point of view."
Haigh also acted for former Labour minister David Benson-Pope when he was investigated by police over allegations of wrongdoing against former school students.
Haigh approached every case with a workmanlike attitude, Williams said.
"You could depend on him in a courtroom to be very well prepared. I never heard any criticism of him.
I regard him as one of the finest criminal lawyers in New Zealand, he [was] at the top of his game."
Lawyer and longtime friend Gary Gotlieb, who studied with Haigh at the University of Auckland, said the pair kept in touch over the years.
Haigh often spoke proudly of his wife and children, Gotlieb said.
"He was a wonderful family guy."
Auckland born and raised, Haigh followed in the footsteps of his lawyer father Frank Haigh, who represented the interests of trade unions for many years - including during the 1951 waterfront strikes.
Frank Haigh was a staunch social reformer who took his son on marches against the 1960 All Blacks tour to South Africa.