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David Carson-Parker and Sir Wilson Whineray

  • October 23rd, 2012

Two deaths of people who unequivocally gave more than they took.

David Carson-Parker was a courteous generous benefactor of Wellington. Among his numerous and  more recent acheivements was the resurrection of the Embassy theatre, in time for the premiere of Lord of the Rings. Very few would know how much he paid personally, without bitterness, after pledges from others and Council committments fell short.

He and Jeremy Commons his partner, have been the very best neighbours. David chose us in 1984 when Cathy and I were looking for more room, with a small child and another on the way.  He gave up a scheme to amalgamate properties he'd bought between Hawker St and Macfarlane St for a grand development. So without advertising he asked his network to nominate buyers who might reverse the then trend to absentee landlordism. Gay friends who'd already bought from him nominated us, he inspected us, and nearly 30 years of extraordinary respect from us followed.

We liked to feel it was reciprocated, though he had much to tolerate.

He tolerated screaming kids (and parents), untidiness, extended part do-it-yourself construction projects, chainsawing of firewood, barking dogs, parties, beekeeping, repeated drain unblocking into his garden and at times uncongenial politics. Even inconsiderate teenage parking (4 children and boarders and lots of visitors) generated only courteous requests to be allowed access to his own garage. 

We had to tolerate nothing more taxing than snatches of opera – the serenade  as singers practiced for private performances.

While I was an MP he carefully explained the flaws in policies important to him.  I authored most of my party's Arts Policy for the 2002 election after consulting him. Despite his disappointment he remained polite and helpful. He hosted a "cottage" meeting in support of my 2008 campaign.  

David reached 80 years last month. He would have been tickled by the initial reporting of his sudden death in Majoribanks St as being of a 59 year old, apparently reflecting the assumption of ambulance officers.

Wellington, and Cathy and I were luck to have him for so long.

Sir Wilson Whineray will be more widely eulogised, but no one will know of his contribution to a comparative absence of litigation against Chapman Tripp).

I could say I knew him from being on tour, surprising as that may be for an 80kg weakling never before suspected of All Black touring.

The tour in question was a 2 week early 1990s Ministerial investment promotion mission to East Asian capitals by 22 NZ business leaders.  The mission leader, the Hon Ruth Richardson, was supported by Ron Trotter and  Wilson Whineray. Both inspired a kind of respect that is perhaps better described as reverence, despite neither needing to be stern or noisy to retain attention. Both had a relaxed willingness to laugh, including at themselves.

But I'd met Sir Wilson years earlier when finalizing arrangements for the takeover by Carter Holt of AHI of which he was the NZ CEO. We explained the complexities needed to protect superannuation entitlements, and for tax effciency. He listened quietly then said something like "As long as we play a straight bat. I don't want anything that we'd be ashamed of if the authorities see it all".

A few years later that was the policy we adopted in Chapman Tripp on sign-offs requested for elaborate tax planning schemes. 66% tax rates had persuaded many otherwise honest people that if the state was going to steal from them, they were justified in deceiving the state. I disagreed. If schemes elegantly used tax incentives or loopholes but conformed with the law they could get our tick. If they would not work if the IRD could see all the steps, they should not have our sign-off. Our partnership's vote for that policy saved Chapman Tripp from the misery many competitor firms endured as the early 1990s litigation unwound the tax fraud schemes of the 1980s.

Sir Wilson was a leader.



Nice to hear someone else's DCP stories, Stephen – and love that he was reported as 59, too!  As a friend of mine said, he's with the Valkyries now; though no doubt he'll have some notes on the production even now.
I photographed David a number of times over the past decade or so, at various events around town (and inevitably stopped for a good long natter while I was there), and I've put together a gallery of the photos I've found, at
for anyone who's interested in remembering him further.
All the best,

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