Jonathan Temm has become the first Rotorua-based lawyer to be appointed a Queen's Counsel (QC) in the new millennium.
He was one of eight new "Silks" announced by Attorney-General David Parker on Thursday afternoon.
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Despite the lengthy appointment process, Temm said the phone call from Parker came as a surprise this week.
He told the Rotorua Daily Post the appointment had been "a professional goal ... although you can never aspire to these things, they come along".
"There are many fine lawyers who never achieve the rank of Queen's Counsel, so there's no certainty about these things.
"The thing that is nice in my own particular case is that my father was a QC and he was the senior QC in the whole of New Zealand for many years and then he later became a judge himself. So it's a nice connection with my father."
Temm has been held in high regard in the New Zealand legal community for a long time.
He has been involved in many serious criminal litigation cases, including the high-profile Nia Glassie murder trial and the "stop-go" murder trial.
In 2015, Temm conducted the successful defence of the first manslaughter charge brought in a forestry workplace accident in New Zealand.
He has been a member of the New Zealand Law Society since 2000, and in 2010 he was made president for three years.
Colleagues from Invercargill to Kaitaia have been congratulating him in the past few days.
"It's been a real pleasure and a delight to me," he said.
"They've rung me, they've emailed me, they've text me, they've sent me WhatsApp messages, they've hounded away on Facebook, on other things."
The Governor-General has the discretion to appoint Queen's Counsel in recognition of extraordinary contributions, but the rank also comes with obligations, as QCs are called upon to carry out work on behalf of the Crown.
More than 35,000 people have been admitted as lawyers in New Zealand since the early 1900 but just 325 have been appointed to the inner bar as Queen's Counsel.
New Zealand Law Society president Tiana Epati said the eight new appointees had all "made significant contributions" to the profession.
"I congratulate them for their immense work and achievement".
Parker said "new criterion was included this year" emphasising that "excellence and leadership in the profession can be seen through a wider, community lens".
Temm said in the past 25 years there had not been any Rotorua-based lawyers appointed as Queen's Counsel.
Some had "passed through" from nearby cities, or moved here for short times after spending most of their careers elsewhere.
However, he said Rotorua lawyer Murray McKechnie "should have been appointed more than 20 years ago".
Temm has also served several years on the NZ Council of Law Reporting and as the director of the Litigation Skills Faculty and served on the executive board of the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce for eight years.
He is a member of the New Zealand Bar Association and a trustee of the NZ Law Foundation and is on the John Paul College Board of Trustees.
In 2012, he told the Rotorua Daily Post he missed out on law school in his first attempt but made it in the following year.
"If you want something, you have to work hard to get it," he said.
"For this type of work, I found these things helped - problem-solving skills, the precision of the English language and a desire to help people."
He said his first job was as New Zealand Herald paper boy in Mt Eden, Auckland, from age 11 to 17.
"It taught me to get up early and get a start on the day and an early sense of responsibility. It is not possible to ring in sick at 6am."
Jonathan Temm's career
- He graduated from the University of Auckland in 1993 and was admitted to the bar that same year.
- He joined the large Auckland commercial law firm Chapman Tripp Sheffield Young, before moving to Rotorua to join Davys Burton, where he became a partner in 2000.
- He later started his own practice, Phoenix Chambers where he specialises in criminal and civil litigation.
- Temm has been significantly involved in the Rotorua community, carrying out pro bono cases for residents.