Apparently Greg King has passed away. Kua hinga te tōtara i Te Waonui a Tāne.

I only met Greg King a couple of times when I appeared TVNZ 7's "The Court Report", which he hosted. Following the show's taping, we repaired to the Bank Bencher for a few drinks and a chat. On both occasions he proved a good guy - interesting to talk to and refreshingly without an arrogantly overinflated sense of his own importance. I liked him.

Aside from those personal meetings, every time I read or heard his voice in the media he was saying something sensible. Greg was someone who mixed his legal duty to offer his clients the best defence available with a genuine recognition of the hurt faced by the victims of crime. As I know many people have said (and will say in the coming days), he absolutely was the guy you'd want representing you if you had the ill-fortune to come before the courts for any reason. But at the same time, he also was prepared to call for changes to our laws when he saw they were wrongly balancing the rights of the accused with the need for community safety. He was an advocate for individual defendants, but not an unthinking advocate for defendants in all situations. 

In short, Greg King was someone who offered a lot to New Zealand's criminal justice system on many levels. We're going to miss him.

Comments (3)

by Tim Watkin on November 03, 2012
Tim Watkin

I did know Greg. We worked together in Brisbane at the World Expo back in 1988. We were teenagers, both selected as one of 32 out of a thousand or so to be hosts at the NZ pavilion. I did it hard – shy, home sick and slightly overwhelmed by it all. Greg though was a natural. Not cool by sense – he was always a bit dorky – but popular and just so comfortable in his own skin at such an early age. One fond memory is that he insisted singing Queen's 'Crazy little thing call love' on the Expo stage (I think Roger Gascoigne introduced him) and I was one of his backing singers!

He was the kind of guy who talked his way into getting what he wanted. He could be a cocky bugger, but never in a mean-spirited or precious way. He just had a great self-confidence (without it ever being at another's expense. I think that was because he simply liked people, he took an interest and gave a damn). He'd brag about his gazillion dollar watch or his Picassos. But it was always with a wink and a smile. And when I said to him he was one of New Zealand's top legal thinkers recently, he told me to stop it.

He knew he had it good, knew he'd been lucky and was enjoying the fruits of his hard work and natural talent. He was a go-getter and loved life. It may be cliche, but he sucked the marrow from it and just enjoyed it.

We'd go years without talking, but when we did speak he was enthusiastic, kind and proud of his old mates. It's funny to say that of someone your own age, but he had a big-brotherly way about him with many folk, I think.

I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago when we had him on Q+A. He was in fine spirits, eager to do me a favour and hear the latest news. We'd not seen each other for some time and promised to have a drink together when next we were in each other's town.

It seems today his luck ran out and we'll never get that beer. Which is just crap, really. It's such a loss of a generous friend, a smart-as-hell lawyer, the sort of talent that was a credit to this country and an all-round good bloke.

Bless you, Greg.

by Deborah Coddington on November 04, 2012
Deborah Coddington

Well said, Andrew and Tim.

This year just seems to get sadder and sadder.

What else awaits, I wonder?

by Mamari on November 09, 2012

Thanks Tim. I also worked with you and Greg at that Expo, and I'm so glad to have known him at that time, him and his gangliness and sticky-out hair and his gift for being able to to say just the right thing at the right time. he was just so darn BRIGHT. I saw more of him than I did of any of the other expo-ites (still not that much) in the succeeding years, and felt a lot of reflected glory at his deeds. I and my family buried my Dad in Australia on Monday...and shortly I'll be going to Greg's service, along with a lot of other people. An unutterably sad week, really. I'm wearing a 'gay red shirt' though.  Greg would like that, I think.

And I had forgotten the Queen number! Ha!!

Moe mai e te mokopuna o Ngāti Tūwharetoa, moe mai, moe mai.


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