Lawyer a fearless advocate

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One of the Wakatipu’s true gentlemen was farewelled in Queenstown yesterday.

Judge Kevin Phillips says lawyer Bryce Whiting, 61, who died last Thursday after collapsing at the Queenstown council building, was passionate – “sometimes against his own best interests”.

He was a fearless advocate, driven by “a sense of justice and a caring for his fellow human beings”, Phillips says.

In the past week, southern judges said he was professional, pleasant and thorough.

Phillips: “When he was in front of them they expected to be there for some time.

“He was always thorough, sometimes repetitive and never apologised for it.

“He put Christian principles into practice.

“And, in my view, when I have regard to him, he was ahead of his time.”

Phillips believed Whiting would be remembered by many through his work in the community, but had left a legacy for all.

“The legacy he provides is ensuring that none of our bureaucratic representatives or bureaucrats forget that needle in the bottom that he gave when they [are] making decisions or recommendations affecting the community.”

At yesterday’s funeral, at Frankton’s City Impact Church, members of the legal fraternity, the Ministry of Justice and Queenstown Police sat alongside former elected representatives, members of various churches, the Salvation Army, residents and musicians.

Alastair Chalmers described Whiting as a “special and unique man”.

A devout Christian, lover of art and music and connoisseur of wine, Whiting was a community advocate, both as a barrister – work he often carried out pro-bono – and while challenging elected representatives and lobbying the council.

Prior to moving to Queenstown, Whiting worked as a law clerk in Dunedin for Judith Ablett-Kerr QC.

Ablett-Kerr was unable to attend yesterday’s service, but paid tribute to the meticulous and “eccentric” man, who often wore long coats, longer scarves and fingerless gloves to work – refusing to take the latter off – and always saw the best in people.

Phillips – who was a lawyer when Whiting moved to Queenstown in the early 1990s – apologised on behalf of colleagues, including sitting judges, who couldn’t attend the funeral.

ed@scene.co.nz