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Death of Leading NZ Constitutional Lawyer


Death of Leading NZ Constitutional Lawyer Dr Colin Aikman

One of New Zealand’s most distinguished international jurists, Dr Colin Aikman, died in Wellington in the weekend, aged 83.

“Colin Aikman made an immense contribution to the New Zealand legal profession and, in particular, to constitutional development in the South Pacific,” Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff said.

“His role as constitutional adviser to the Samoan Government in drafting their Constitution was recognised in 1993 when they awarded Colin their highest decoration, the Order of Tiafau. He was a special guest of the Samoan Government at their 40th anniversary of independence celebrations in June this year.

“Colin was among New Zealand’s most outstanding lawyers of the post-war era. His long career includes an exceptional list of scholarly, administrative and legal achievements,” Mr Goff said.

After training as a lawyer, Dr Aikman worked for the Department of External Affairs, the forerunner to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, between 1943 and 1955. He was a member of the New Zealand delegation that attended the United Nations founding conference in San Francisco in 1945.

He was Professor of Jurisprudence and Constitutional Law at Victoria University between 1955 and 1968, and Dean of the Law Faculty for much of that period. During that time he advised on the constitutional development of Western Samoa, the Cook Islands and Niue.

In 1968 Dr Aikman became the first Vice Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji. He was New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India and Bangladesh and Ambassador to Nepal between 1975 and 1978.

“In retirement, Colin maintained a strong interest in international legal issues. He was President and a Director of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs; an adviser on our external aid and development policies; a specialist adviser to Parliament’s Regulations Review Committee; and a Consultant to the Law Commission. He kept in contact with the Victoria University Law Faculty, attending a function there only two weeks ago.

“Colin’s passing will be mourned by his many friends and former colleagues in the New Zealand legal and diplomatic communities and in the Pacific Islands. I extend my deepest condolences to Colin’s wife, Betty, and their family,” Mr Goff said.

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