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A Lasting Legacy for the betterment of Law in New Zealand

A Lasting Legacy for the betterment of Law in New Zealand

A man who has dedicated his life to the law, Retired District Court Judge, Ian Borrin, has established a charitable trust devoted to the development of legal education and research for the betterment of New Zealand’s legal system.

The Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation will promote legal scholarship in all areas of the law and the development of legal research, scholarship, writing and education.

A memorial service was held for Ian Borrin, who died on 23 March 2016, at The Pines in Wellington today.

The Foundation, announced at today’s memorial service, is expected to be worth around $30 million, and is one of the largest single purpose bequests made in New Zealand. It will be administered by the Nikau Foundation as trustee, with an advisory independent Grants and Scholarship committee established by retired Judge Borrin comprising: The Chief Justice of New Zealand; the President of the Law Society; the Dean of the Law School at Victoria University; Retired Chief Judge, Thomas Goddard and his alternate David Goddard QC; and a representative of the Nikau Foundation.

The Nikau Foundation is a charitable trust that attracts gifts, trusts and legacies and invests them for the benefit principally of the Wellington region. The income from these investments is distributed to charitable purposes in accordance with each donor’s wishes. Nikau Foundation also manages some funds that benefit all of New Zealand and the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation will be by far the largest of these.

Chris Milne, Chair of the Nikau foundation said: “This is a marvellous legacy left by a man who has dedicated his life to law. Ian Borrin was a humble and gentle man of integrity, who sought no recognition for his generosity. He worked hard in his final months to ensure there was clarity in the Foundation’s purpose, and that it would be a lasting tribute to the memory of his parents.

“The establishment of the Foundation is extraordinarily generous not only in its scale, but also in the impact such a legacy will have in perpetuity for the good of New Zealand. Ian Borrin has made an everlasting contribution to our legal system and law-making and we are very pleased both he and his partner Jenny

George appointed the Nikau Foundation to ensure that his wishes would be fulfilled,” Chris Milne said.

The Chief Justice of New Zealand, Dame Sian Elias said today: “Ian Borrin has been a constant in the New Zealand legal community. He was an outstanding and highly respected Wellington practitioner and a very fine Judge of the District Court. Since his retirement he has remained fully engaged in the profession.

“Ian supported scholarship and legal publications, perhaps a neglected object of philanthropy in New Zealand, but he knew that the rule of law underpins any community and he believed very strongly in its importance for New Zealand. It is entirely consistent with the way in which this modest, kind and scholarly man lived his life that this parting gift is one that looks to the future with optimism. We will all greatly miss this good man.

“Members of the legal community at all levels will be supported by grants and scholarships to undertake legal writing, research and education through this gift. Although the Foundation provides direct support to those in the legal community, there is no doubt that its primary beneficiaries are the people of New Zealand who live under the security of law, something Ian Borrin believed in and worked tirelessly for. It is a magnificent legacy which will be of lasting benefit,” Dame Sian Elias said.

Fellow Grants and Scholarship committee member, lawyer Chris Moore, President of the New Zealand Law Society said: “Judge Ian Borrin was highly regarded by the legal profession during his career for his compassionate approach and generous spirit. The Law Society has no doubt that our legal and justice system will be measurably enhanced by this legacy. It is a fitting memorial to the man and his parents.”

Ian Borrin was an alumnus of Victoria University’s Law School and a long time supporter of the school. Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Law, Professor Mark Hickford, said: “Everyone at the Law School is saddened by the passing of Judge Borrin who has had a great presence on campus and been a great supporter of us. This very generous bequest will make a significant difference to those who study and research law throughout New Zealand. It is an honour for the Dean of Law at Victoria University to have a place on the advisory Grants and Scholarship committee.”

Ian Borrin was raised in Wellington, attended Wellington College and studied law at Victoria University. He was appointed to the District Court in 1983 and served as head of the Police Complaints Authority, the police watchdog organisation, retiring in 2007 at 72, the statutory retirement age for the Authority. He is survived by his partner Jenny George

The members of the Grants and Scholarship Committee have yet to meet to discuss finer details, and with probate still to be granted, it is likely to be 12 months before the first grants and scholarships are awarded.


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