Sir Peter Williams QC leaves behind an enormous legacy not only in New Zealand, but also around the world.
In a career that spanned 60 years, he was never one to shy away from the big and difficult issues. Some of his more notorious cases established him as a man who would fight for the justice.
There are two issues that I will always remember Peter for. Firstly, his strong anti-nuclear stance. 1n 1995, he sailed his yacht to Mururoa Atoll, as part of the Greenpeace flotilla, to protest the resumption of French nuclear testing.
Secondly, an issue that is very close to my heart, penal reform. Peter, a criminal lawyer by trade, was the former head of the Howard League for Penal Reform. He worked tirelessly for prisoners’ rights and fought injustice everywhere.
And despite his status and mana, he never lost the willingness or ability to engage with some of the most difficult and vulnerable people in our communities. He was a passionate man who spent his life working for others. He took on cases that were controversial and never failed to dazzle with his brilliant legal mind.
He will be sadly missed but his legacy and work will live on.