Lord Cooke of Thorndon: A Legal Great

Robin Brunskill Cooke, NZ’s most renowned jurist, has died aged 80. Educated at Wellington’s Victoria University and Caius College at Cambridge, Robin Cooke made his reputation early on with a high profile libel case launched by then Commerce Minister against the publication Truth. He was involved in numerous landmark NZ cases, including the 1985 injunction preventing the All Blacks from touring South Africa. He made numerous judgments in favour of Maori and the Treaty of Waitangi, earning him the title of “activist judge” (a term he disputed, preferring the term “liberal”). Upon his retirement in 1996 as a Lord of Appeal and a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Cooke was created a peer, making him the first NZ judge in history to sit in the British House of Lords. He took the title of Lord Cooke of Thorndon. The Times: “He exhibited considerable presence on the bench and did not suffer fools gladly … He would deliver judgments extempore, with his eyes shut, as clear, rational, perfectly formed prose tumbled from his mouth.”

Robin Brunskill Cooke: 9 May 1926 – 30 August 2006


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