George William Hinde, 1929-2014

ADLS and Law News were saddened by the passing of Dr George Hinde, Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Auckland, on October 9 2014. Readers may have known him in various guises – influential academic, respected barrister and prolific author. As a teacher and writer, his words have helped thousands of law students and practitioners navigate the world of property law. As a friend and mentor, he helped many members of the profession along their own journeys. And as husband to Marian Hinde, barrister and long-standing ADLS member and supporter, he shared 38 years of love and life.

George Hinde

Dr Hinde was born in Sale, Manchester, England in 1929. An only child, his father served in the trenches in France during the First World War, while his mother (a highly intelligent woman who clearly passed her gifts on to her son) was headmistress of a school of 500 pupils. At the time, this would have been an unusual achievement for a woman.

Pollution in their coal-dominated hometown was a primary motivator for the family’s emigration to New Zealand in 1938. As an adult re-visiting home on a Woolf Fisher scholarship in the 1960s, Dr Hinde was astounded to discover that buildings he remembered from childhood as being black actually had honey-coloured stone hiding underneath their sooty exteriors.

Dr Hinde taught at the University of Auckland’s Law School for a quarter of a century from 1961 to 1987 (apart from a period at Canterbury), taking up a professorial chair in 1968. In later years, Dr Hinde was a Professor of Law at Bond University in Queensland. He eventually returned to Auckland as a barrister, and also continued writing and updating the various editions of his land law works.

That, indeed, is how he is perhaps best known to generations of students and practitioners – as the author or co-author of texts such as Hinde on Commercial Leases, Principles of Real Property Law, and, of course, Hinde McMorland and Sim: Land Law in New Zealand – New Zealand’s leading land law text for the past 30 years. In 1981, Dr Hinde was awarded an LLD from the University of Auckland in recognition of his outstanding contributions through writing.

Dr Hinde’s time at the Law School in Auckland was to prove fortunate for him in other ways, for it was there that he met Marian, his wife of almost four decades. The pair were formally introduced by Byron O’Keefe, a faculty staff member, after her graduation in 1975. It seems they were meant to be together. The wedding took place in December of 1975, in the Maclaurin Chapel at the University where (poignantly) the funeral was also held on 15 October 2014.

Not just partners in life, the Hindes have also been working in close proximity for the last few years, with Dr Hinde eventually taking over the boardroom at his wife’s chambers for his own use. His books and papers gradually migrated across from his former haunt at (what was then) the ADLS Law Library, where a series of brown boxes had long demarcated his desk and made other barristers wary of sitting in his territory.

Having never been bitten by the technology bug, Dr Hinde always handwrote his manuscripts, a trait which it appears the editors of his books were always happy to work around. Hanging in pride of place in said boardroom/office is a framed series of proof pages from one of his texts, marked up in red handwriting, which was presented to him by LexisNexis (formerly Butterworths) in commemoration of 50 years’ writing and editing.

Dr Hinde continued full-time work until 19 September of this year. His publisher was sending through new cases for chapter updates, which he would work on himself or distribute amongst contributing authors. Although he worked “continuously” (on sabbatical he would spend long hours at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London), he still “always had time for people”.

“The nice thing about the funeral was that every single person there was a friend and part of his life and they wanted to be there,” says Marian Hinde. “He was a very multi-faceted person – kind and practical. There were so many people whose lives he touched – people from all around the world in fact. But no one ever knew about it – he was not a do-gooder, and he never spoke about the people he had helped.”

“He believed in bringing people up to the required standard, he never brought the standard down to them or watered it down at all. Not only that, but he was the most accurate assessor of character that I’ve ever known. He just knew people.”

Long-time friend and practitioner Cedric Jordan was one of the speakers at Dr Hinde’s funeral service. Their friendship dates back to student days and he fondly recalled the times they shared and the travelling they did together.

“We kept in touch for the rest of our lives,” Mr Jordan told Law News. “However, we shared one attribute in particular – an inability to cope with the introduction of the computer. Neither of us could type and that was a great handicap in the computer age. We continued to correspond by handwritten letters. But his handwriting was much superior to mine.”

“As I said at his funeral, I shall ever remember him for his utter reliability and constant good humour.”

Dr Don McMorland, a co-author with Dr Hinde of Hinde McMorland and Sim, was once his student. “My relationship with him goes back to the very first lecture I ever had. George was my legal system teacher, then he taught me land law a couple of years later in 1963.”

Having subsequently made land law the focus of his own career, Dr McMorland was pleased to be asked to assist Dr Hinde with his writing which, by that stage, had become “far too big a project for one person”. In a joint effort that, in many ways, became “the centre of our lives”, the authors worked on various chapters as assigned to them by Dr Hinde.

“In terms of responsibility for oversight and the maintenance of standards, George did it and did it brilliantly,” he told Law News. “The constant work took a lot of effort and concentration on his part. He was very meticulous and thorough – he cared how things were expressed.”

“Those shoes will be very difficult to fill – he will be missed.”

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