Victoria University of Wellington Law Review
The funeral of Professor I D Campbell was held at Old Saint Pauls on Thursday 12 July 2001. Dr Colin Aikman, former Professor of Law, Victoria University of Wellington, delivered the following eulogy.
It is a humbling privilege to have been asked by the Campbell family to say something about Ian Campbell with special regard to his university career.
Although Ian was to me a friend, colleague and mentor I was not one of his students. In this respect many of today's mourners will have an advantage. And as I look back I realise, somewhat to my own surprise, that I cannot recall having ever attended a lecture or address that he gave. I was always abroad for one reason or another at the crucial time. On the other hand, Ian and I were colleagues in the Law Faculty at Victoria for a period of 13 years. During this time we alternated as Dean of the Law Faculty and we sat through a multitude of the meetings - in our case of faculty, professorial board and vice-chancellor and deans - which are all too familiar a feature of University life. And my wife Betty and I and our family have had the pleasure and satisfaction, over the years, of enjoying the close friendship of Ian, Eslie and their family.
Fortunately there is no lack of material on which anyone in my position can draw. The panegyrics have gone before. In 1971 a series of public lectures on criminal law was held in Ian's honour. And there are Victoria's citation for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws conferred on Ian by the University in 1977; and also the proceedings of the Testimonial Dinner held in his honour by the Wellington District Law Society in November 1993. There is Ian's writing, which includes his many articles, essays and reports on a range of legal and other issues; while Campbell exploits have not escaped the notice of Victoria's historians. So, I am unlikely to avoid the charge of plagiarism.
Ian enrolled at Victoria College in 1928 and completed his LLB in 1933 and his LLM in 1934. It was in 1933 that he first attracts the attention of the historian. He was editor of the 1933 issue of the student journal, Spike. The original issue contained his article "Untwisted Teaching: Some Remarks on Legal Education". The article contained what has been described as "a trenchant attack on the teaching of law at the university". As Ian said in his article:
The Law Faculty persists throughout in accepting what is and ignoring what might be; it has no real awareness of the world to-day and of the true function of law in society; it has no ideals for the future; it holds the successful barrister's contempt for theoretical enquiry, and wholly ignores the value of sociological speculation.
This attack upset Professor Adamson and the Professorial Board suppressed that issue of Spike. It eventually appeared minus the Campbell article and two other items which were allegedly seditious.
In his early career Ian worked as a law clerk in legal firms. From 1937-1940 he was General Secretary of the NZ Police Association. And it was in 1940 that Ian Campbell was appointed as Senior Lecturer in the Law Faculty that he had denigrated. He was to be the earliest of a series of appointments at Victoria that were to turn the Victoria Law Faculty into the kind of institution that student Campbell had envisaged in 1933. Ian was to make his own unique contribution to this development.
From 1943 to 1946 Ian served in the Army Education Welfare service in Wellington where he attained the rank of Captain. There his main job was to help Army personnel who wanted to undertake further advanced training. It is clear from Ian's remarks at the Testimonial Dinner that he enjoyed this work. He was astonished at the number who took advantage of the programme while on active service, including personnel in POW camps in enemy territory.
Ian returned to his Senior Lectureship and in 1951 succeeded James Williams as Professor of English and New Zealand Law. Eleven years later, in 1962, he became Deputy Vice-Chancellor, a position he held until his retirement in 1975. He also had a number of spells as Acting Vice-Chancellor. On his retirement he became Professor Emeritus and it was two years later that the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred.
It is as a teacher that many in our audience today will remember Ian. He, along with Professor Robert McGechan, visited United States' law schools in the late 1940s and came back influenced by the case or Socratic method of teaching. Victoria Law staff individually evolved their own variations of the method and it was recognised that Ian emerged as the most formidable and effective teacher of his time.
Many and varied were the tributes to his skill as a teacher at the Testimonial Dinner and I have the permission of the then Chief Justice, Sir Thomas Eichelbaum, to quote from the message he sent to the dinner:
Ian Campbell was a dominant figure among law teachers of that period. The soundness and clarity of his thinking were matched by an ability to impart his knowledge in straight-forward unpretentious terms readily understandable by students. He had the gift of making the law come alive in practical terms as well as laying a sound principled base. Without courting popularity he was immensely popular with and respected by the students. . .
There were messages from distinguished Victoria alumni in New Zealand and overseas. This came from Professor David Mullan of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario:
In criminal law, we all knew that we were no match for Ian Campbell's incisive mind and devastating analytical skills.
However, it will be Ian's work as a scholar rather than as a teacher that will be best remembered by later generations of students and teachers and by the profession itself. He was the author of numerous and important publications in various fields of law. He made major contributions to law reform particularly in the area of criminal law. This was ever his main area of interest. He was a member of the Law Revision Committee and later of the Criminal Law Reform Committee. His academic achievements were recognised by the Australasian Universities Law Schools Association, which elected him to honorary membership - the first New Zealander to earn that distinction.
Ian became engrossed with the wide range of administrative work that fell to his lot as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and he eventually decided to accept that it was a full-time job. This meant that he gave up teaching. As Dean of the Law Faculty he had demonstrated that he was an effective administrator and he proceeded to apply his skills to his new responsibilities. One of these skills was his facility as a draftsman. I had had a good deal of experience working with Parliamentary Counsel and Ian was as good a draftsman as I have known. He had the ability to reduce a proposition or a regulation to the simplest possible language. He proceeded to apply this skill to re-writing university regulations and to the revision of the University calendar.
The Doctor of Laws Citation said of Campbell as Deputy Vice-Chancellor:
To the problems the university faced in those years he brought that distinctive mix of attitudes and intellectual qualities for which those who worked with him will always remember him: a rationality uncompromising, austere, at times almost intimidating; a liberalism of a vintage perhaps more easily recognised and more appreciatively savoured by his peers than by those of a younger generation; a humanity which one feels is the more sincere for avoiding effusiveness in favour of a characteristic reticence and even an appearance of detachment.
Ian's other interests included music (he was a member of the Board of the Alex Lindsay Orchestra), photography, philately and outdoor bowls. The Aikman family spent an evening watching the slides he made on a trip to the Antarctic. My daughter, Helen, described them as "stunning".
It was philately to which Ian devoted his main attention towards the end of his life. While I was working with him at Victoria I walked in on him one lunch-hour. He had in front of him on his desk a huge pile of used stamps. He told me that he was making a collection of the post-marks of all the post offices of New Zealand. And that was before the disappearance of so many post offices. In his retirement a visitor to his home would find him with a collection of very much smaller piles in front of him. He was preparing packets of stamps for distribution to children in the hope of encouraging them to take up stamp collecting.
In 1979 Ian was made a Fellow of the Royal New Zealand Philatelic Society. Much more recently he made a point of drawing my attention to an item on the mantelpiece - the Philatelic Society's Collins Award for contribution to Philatelic Literature. This will have been for his research on Post Office post-marks.
From what I have said Ian will have emerged as a rather austere person. Certainly he was very much his own man and he was not easy to get to know. Nevertheless, I found him a supportive friend and colleague. He had a wry sense of humour. And his reply at the Testimonial Dinner was replete with witticisms. Peter Jenkin, the organiser of the Testimonial Dinner, was able to say what it was like working with Ian. As a student assistant to Ian he had the opportunity, not given to many others, of seeing Ian at close quarters. To Peter:
It was a year of great humour and the privilege of being used as a sounding board for many of the thoughts he was preparing for his students.
Ian and Eslie were a delight on social occasions. At the Dinner Ken Keith recalled from his own experience the support that they had provided to junior members of the faculty and their families. One junior colleague had recently arrived from England and was giving a faculty party. He was amazed and delighted to find the Campbells at the end of the evening in the kitchen, doing the dishes - a very Kiwi thing he thought.
However, the farewell party to Senior Lecturer Kingston Braybrooke was one faculty party which will always revive sad memories for the Campbell family. It was after that party that they suffered the tragic loss of their son Donald.
My wife, Betty, recalls the last time she saw Ian when on a visit to Malvina Major. He had been taking a lively part in a game of Skallywag and he was displaying concern as to where he stood on the leader board. It was just one more skill that Ian was determined to master.
I cannot close without extending on behalf of us all and of the many friends who cannot be here today our sympathy and support to Eslie, Keith and Julie, Russell, Rachel and Jean; to grandchildren, Helen, Kirsty, Catherine, Caroline and Camille; and to greatgrandchildren, Jeremy, Amelia, Brendon, Miriam and Caitlin.
Old Saint Pauls
12 July 2001