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Sir Owen Woodhouse, ONZ KBE DSC, was 97.
Prime Minister John Key said Sir Owen's life exemplified public service and duty to his country.
''He was a decorated naval officer in World War 2, receiving a Distinguished Service Cross for operations in the Adriatic, before embarking on a long and distinguished career as a jurist at the highest level.
''He is best known for chairing the Royal Commission on Accident Compensation, authoring the Woodhouse Report, which recommended a no-fault accident compensation scheme for New Zealand. He leaves a genuinely important legacy,'' Mr Key said.
Sir Owen, of Auckland, was made an Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand in 2007, after being made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1981.
He was president of the Court of Appeal between 1981 and 1986, and was made a Privy Counsellor and member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 1974.
An obituary will follow.