Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.

MYERS, Right Hon. Sir Michael, G.C.M.G.

(1873–1950).

Chief Justice of New Zealand.

A new biography of Myers, Michael appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Michael Myers, the son of Judah Myers and Eve, née Solomon, was born at Motueka on 7 September 1873. The family moved to Wellington in 1879 and Myers was educated at Thorndon School, Wellington, and at Wellington College. He studied law at Canterbury University College and graduated LL.B. in 1896, being admitted as a barrister and solicitor in 1897. In 1899 he became a partner in the firm of Bell, Gully, and Izard, with which he had been associated since leaving college in 1891. He had had a brilliant career at school and university, and amply fulfilled the promise shown then during the 30 years he spent with the Wellington firm. In 1922 he was granted the patent of King's Counsel, and in 1929, after an outstanding career at the Bar, he was appointed Chief Justice on the untimely death of Sir Charles Skerrett. Assisted, no doubt, by his association with such leaders of the Bar as Sir Francis Bell, K.C., and Hugh Gully, Sir Michael Myers became a prominent figure in the Courts almost from the time of his admission, and until the reconstitution of the Crown Law Office in 1910 he appeared in a large number of Crown cases, both criminal and civil. He sat for 17 years as Chief Justice until his retirement in 1946, and died in Wellington, on 8 April 1950, at the age of 77 years.

Sir Michael Myers took his place on the Bench during a difficult period in the social and economic development of the country and held office throughout a time of transition in the history of the law in New Zealand. He was a man of exceptional gifts, and throughout his service at the Bar and on the judiciary he allied to them unbounded energy and tireless industry. He had an acutely analytical mind and, painstaking in method, he possessed in large measure the faculty of sifting relevance from irrelevance and arriving at conclusions with a minimum of delay. He was at all times an indefatigable advocate of the rights, duties, and privileges of the legal profession, and throughout a long life he put all his remarkable equipment at the disposal of the law. His breadth of vision was remarkable and, despite the variety and volume of his duties as Chief Justice, he found time for practical interest in international affairs. He accompanied the Prime Minister, Peter Fraser to the conference of Allied Nations in San Francisco in 1945, which produced the United Nations, and there, hardly less than Fraser himself, he enhanced the name of New Zealand in international councils. He took a prominent part in the framing of the constitution of the International Court of Justice. In 1936 he became the first New Zealand born Judge to sit on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which he always regarded as an invaluable and essential link in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

by Ronald Jones, Journalist and Script Writer, New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, Wellington.

Dominion, 10 Apr 1950 (Obit).



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This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

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