Honorary Doctorate for Influential Lawyer
A woman who helped create Fiji's non-racial constitution
and has played a major role in the development of New
Zealand's law is to receive an honorary doctorate from
Barrister Alison Quentin-Baxter will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws to be conferred at the University's graduation ceremonies in May.
Born in Auckland and educated at Epsom Girls' Grammar, Nga Tawa School, and Auckland University, Mrs Quentin-Baxter graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1952.
Mrs Quentin-Baxter began her public service career in the Department of External Affairs in 1952, rising to be Head of the Legal Division (1956-60) before becoming First Secretary in the New Zealand Embassy to the United States in Washington DC (1960-61). She worked as a Tutor in Law at Wellington Polytechnic (1965-66) before joining Victoria University as a Lecturer in Law in 1967.
From 1970 to 1987, Mrs Quentin-Baxter practised as a barrister and consultant in the field of public law. She was a member of the New Zealand legal team at the International Court of Justice in 1974 when New Zealand objected to France's atmospheric nuclear tests. She has also been a member of several New Zealand delegations to the United Nations General Assembly in New York throughout her career.
In 1980, she was a key adviser to the Prime Minister's Department on the revision of the Letters Patent that constitute the Office of Governor-General of New Zealand.
In 1987, Mrs Quentin-Baxter became Director of the newly formed New Zealand Law Commission, a position she held till 1994. The Commission is an independent, government-funded body that reviews laws in need of updating or development. During this time she was also a member of the Niue Public Service Commission (1987-90) and Counsel to the Marshall Islands Constitutional Convention (1990) and received a QSO for Public Services (1993).
In 1995, she was a member of the Honours Advisory Committee established to review New Zealand's system of honours before working for two years (1995-96) as counsel assisting the Fiji Constitution Review Commission that saw the Pacific nation adopt a non-racial constitution.
She is currently advising New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the laws of the Ross Dependency in the Antarctic and the people of the British Atlantic Territory of St Helena on the Island's constitutional development. She has also written widely on issues surrounding the constitutional status of island nations.
Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon said the honorary doctorate recognised Mrs Quentin-Baxter's services to the law and to the University. "She has had a distinguished career in law, both as a constitutional adviser to many small island nations and in reforming New Zealand's law. She has been a strong supporter of the University, having taught here in the 1960s and is a member of the Quentin-Baxter Memorial Trust Fund Board, chaired by the Dean of Law. The trust fund was established after the death of her husband and Victoria Professor Quentin Quentin-Baxter in 1984."
Victoria University of Wellington Public Affairs
For further information please contact Antony.Paltridge@vuw.ac.nz or phone 04 463-5873 or 029-463-5873