Remembering Owen Woodhouse

Last week New Zealand paid tribute to Sir Owen Woodhouse (d. April 15, 2014, aged 97) . A decorated World War II hero, former Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judge, his 1967 Royal Commission report laid the foundation for the reform of NZ’s workers compensation system and creation of its accident compensation scheme. Like Meredith, his review provided a comprehensive vision that was based on guiding principles (“community responsibility”, “comprehensive entitlement”, “complete rehabilitation”, “real compensation” and “administrative efficiency”)

A 2002 symposium looked back at NZ’s compensation system, its evolution and the contribution of Woodhouse. His opening speech and others’ analyses can be read here  (Victoria University of Wellington Law Review, v.34, no.2, 2003)

His words from a 1996 speech ring true still:

“Our social responsibilities are not to be tested by clever equations of the latest economic dogma. They depend upon decent fellow feeling and the ideas and ideals that support it.”