Judge Fred McElrea presides over the Dunedin District Court
this week, ending his lengthy career in the same courtroom
where he started in 1967. Photo by Linda Robertson.
A ''wonderful'' career has started and ended in the same
courtroom of the Dunedin District Court for retiring judge Fred
He sat as a judge for the last time yesterday in Dunedin,
having made his first appearance in the court as a lawyer in
Mr McElrea (70) said it was a fitting way to end his career,
which had been ''a huge privilege with great variety''.
''It's been a wonderful career. My first appearances were in
the very same courtroom as I've been sitting in this week.''
Mr McElrea spent 20 years as a full-time judge before
becoming an acting warranted judge five and a-half years ago.
He was born in Dunedin and attended Maori Hill School, Otago
Boys' High School and the University of Otago, but had been
living in Auckland with his wife Margaret.
His two-week posting to the Dunedin District Court coinciding
with the end of his career might have been unintentional, he
''I was offered these two weeks by the chief judge's
assistant and I don't think she knew the significance of
Dunedin for me, although she knew I was from the South
Mr McElrea planned to move to Wanaka with his wife before
Christmas. While growing up in Dunedin he spent many holidays
in Central Otago.
''It's lovely to be going back. Margaret is a great gardener
so she's looking forward to some new plants.''
Mr McElrea's last sitting was acknowledged in court yesterday
by senior counsel Anne Stevens.
''There is a happy symmetry that your last sitting is in
Otago where you obtained your law degree and masters in
philosophy and your father had his practice. We wish you well
in retirement,'' she said.