Ronald Davison

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The Right Honourable
Sir Ron Davison
10th Chief Justice of New Zealand
In office
3 February 1978 – 4 February 1989
Nominated by Robert Muldoon
Appointed by Sir Keith Holyoake
Preceded by Richard Wild
Succeeded by Thomas Eichelbaum
Personal details
Born (1920-11-16)16 November 1920
Kaponga, Taranaki
Died 2 July 2015(2015-07-02) (aged 94)
Spouse(s) Jacqueline May Carr

Sir Ronald Keith Davison GBE CMG QC (16 November 1920 – 2 July 2015) was the tenth Chief Justice of New Zealand from 1978 to 1989.[1]


Davison presided over the case of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. His harsh sentence of 10 years jail for the French secret service agents was highly applauded, and he made a memorable statement:[2]

People who come to this country and commit terrorist activities cannot expect to have a short holiday at the expense of our Government and return home as heroes.

When The New Zealand Herald celebrated its 150th birthday in November 2013, they awarded the title 'New Zealander of the Year' for each year of their history. Sir Ronald was their New Zealander of the Year for 1985 for his conduct during the trial of the French secret service agents.[2]

Sir Ronald headed the government inquiry (1994–1997) into certain matters related to overseas company taxation, popularly known as the Winebox Inquiry. This involved allegations against a number of parties including the merchant bank Fay Richwhite. He also presided over the 1994 inquiry into the Family court proceedings involving the Bristol family, which resulted in a number of changes being made to New Zealand's child protection legislation.

He was appointed Companion to the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 1975 Birthday Honours.[3] He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE) on 11 February 1978, just after his appointment as Chief Justice.[4]

Personal life[edit]

He married Jacqueline May Carr in 1948, and they have 3 children. Son Paul Davison QC is a prominent New Zealand barrister who prosecuted, among other cases, the trial of Scott Watson for the disappearance of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope in the Marlborough Sounds on 1 January 1998.

Sir Ronald died on 2 July 2015.[5]


  1. ^ "Former Chief Justices". Courts of New Zealand. Retrieved 11 January 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Hastings, David (November 2013). "1985, Ronald Davison: Judge condemns state terrorism". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  3. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46595. p. 7405. 6 June 1975.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 47471. p. 2451. 23 February 1978.
  5. ^ "Winebox Inquiry chair Sir Ronald Davison dies". Radio New Zealand. 5 July 2015.