An Auckland judge who died this week is being remembered by friends and colleagues as "a lovely guy who will be deeply missed".
Judge Robert Ronayne, 64, was found dead at his Remuera home Tuesday afternoon by police officers attending a sudden death event.
Judge Ronayne - a former Tauranga lawyer - is being mourned by friends, family and colleagues.
Auckland's Crown solicitor Brian Dickey spoke warmly of his long-standing friend and former colleague saying he was "a lovely guy who will be deeply missed".
"He was an excellent judge, very compassionate towards victims of crime, especially sexual violence.
"He really took an emphasis to fairness attributes to the treatment of victims and those vulnerable ones in particular".
Dickey worked with Judge Ronayne when he was a partner at a Tauranga law firm before moving on to become a senior Crown prosecutor in the district until 2013.
He spent the next seven years at Auckland District Court as his home court.
"He was just a really good guy to talk to about issues, he was always friendly.
"That's not to say he wasn't a strict judge because he was and he could get cross but he was always fair and honest," Dickey said.
Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu said Judge Ronayne had served the New Zealand public excellently.
"Judge Ronayne was held in extremely high regard and his judicial colleagues will remember fondly his flair, wit and tireless dedication to serving the administration of justice," Taumaunu said.
"My sincere condolences and those of Judge Ronayne's judicial colleagues are extended to his family and friends at this difficult time."
High profile defence lawyer Ron Mansfield was saddened by the news of Judge Ronayne's passing.
"He was a hard working and dedicated judge."
Mansfield said the judge would strive to deliver what he considered was required the fair outcome to be just for the victim, the community and with the necessary understanding of the reality of how the offender's personal circumstances need to be assisted where possible by required rehabilitation through any sentence to be imposed.
"In doing so he would work very hard and give a lot of himself, as all judges do."
Mansfield said being a judge for the community was "a hard and stressful role".
"We all reap the benefit of that service, the fact that someone else manages difficult issues and strives to find the correct balance in any decision they are required to make - all while under the usually critical eye of us all," he said.
"It's just too easy for some in our community to be critical of individual decisions because of personal views and bias.
"However, those involved and informed of all the important competing issues know how hard and stressful it is when you try to get the decision right and for everyone.
"It's tough and demanding work. The personal impact of that work for the individual judge, and on those close to them, is significant."
Chief executive of the New Zealand Law Society Helen Morgan-Banda added that the legal profession was saddened at the news.
"In his time as a lawyer and Crown Solicitor, and then as a District Court Judge, he showed a high level of commitment and dedication to our justice system.
"He has been a highly valued and respected member of the legal community in Aotearoa New Zealand."
Judge Ronayne joined the bench after 34 years of legal practice, primarily as a litigator.
He studied law at the University of Canterbury before being admitted to the bar in 1978.
He practised for nearly 20 years in Rotorua, previously spending time practising in Auckland.
Judge Ronayne's death comes four months after his former wife Cameron Coombes Ronayne died peacefully at her home in Tauranga last October.
A death notice said she died on October 4 last year, surrounded by whanau and friends.
The pair were married for almost 25 years and had two children together in the early 1990s before separating in 2009.
The Herald approached one of the children for comment but they did not want to talk.
Victim advocate Ruth Money, who spent a lot of time in courtrooms helping people navigate the judicial process and encountered Judge Ronayne often, said he will be remembered as a "very kind, balanced and fair judge".
"[He] was always respectful of all people in his court," Money told the Herald.
"He always took the time to acknowledge victims and explain things as they tried to make sense of proceedings while in trauma.
"Rest in peace Judge Ronayne."
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