When the shock of his latest accolade settles, the Honourable Justice Noel Anderson will probably celebrate by giving his favourite two-seater sports car an oil change.

The long-serving barrister and judge has been rewarded with the title of distinguished companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, an equivalent to a Knighthood.

"I don't know what to say really, I've enjoyed some pretty awesome milestones and this is one of them," Mr Anderson said.


Among the milestones were elevation to the ranks of Queen's Counsels, appointment to the High Court in 1987, the Court of Appeal in 2001 and becoming President of the Court of Appeal in January.

Mr Anderson remembers well the day he was admitted to the bar in 1967 because he had his first case on the same day and found himself up against future Court of Appeal judge and Privy Councillor John Henry.

Since then the Titirangi resident has presided over hundreds of cases, including the third Plumley-Walker murder trial, the trial of murderer Malcolm Rewa and the David Lange versus North & South libel case, as well sitting on the inquiries into abortion, contraception and sterilisation, and the Mt Erebus disaster.

Part of the job has involved coping with the stress of the unpleasant, violent aspects of some cases.

"It can be quite a burden to maintain, cases can often be quite stressful and moving, really. But you have to suppress it. You have the support of your colleagues and the training, so you know how things are going to run, which is one of the benefits of structured court procedure."

It's enough to distract him from his passion for all things car-related.

"I've often thought about what I would have done if I hadn't gone into law. If it was a genie wish I would have liked to have been a Formula One driver or maybe an accomplished pianist."

Mr Anderson has owned many vehicles over the years and now potters about underneath a pair of Toyota MR2s. But his ambition is to find and restore a 1936 Austin 7 Ruby, the first car he ever owned.

"My interest really is in the cars and drivers from the 30s. If I can get hold of the Austin I guess I will have gone full circle."