13 Jun 2015

Law legend farewelled in grand style

3:08 pm on 13 June 2015

Hundreds of mourners filled the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell this afternoon to farewell distinguished criminal lawyer Sir Peter Williams QC.

Sir Peter's funeral will be held this afternoon at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell.

Sir Peter's funeral was held this afternoon at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell. Photo: RNZ / Carol Hirschfeld

Politicians, judges, former clients of Sir Peter's, and many friends and family were on hand to pay their respects to the highly regarded barrister.

During today's service, long time friend retired Appeal Court judge Sir Ted Thomas described Sir Peter as 'the greatest defense lawyer of our time, and indeed of all time'.

He added, "Everyone is mortal - Peter achieved an immortality that is granted only to very few.'

Broadcaster Paul Henry recalled how his friendship with Sir Peter had been forged through a trip to Mururoa to protest against nuclear testing in the Pacific.

Other tributes were made by Sir Jim McLay, Sir Peter's three children and also included a song from the Hon. Dover Samuels.

Sir Peter's two pet Labradors rested quietly near their master's coffin during the two-hour service.

A private cremation was to be held following the public farewell.

Sir Peter was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006 and died this week aged 80.

He was made Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to law in the last New Year honours.

Due to his ill health, a special investiture ceremony was held at his home in April.

Sir Peter and Lady Heeni

Sir Peter and Lady Heeni, at the ceremony. Photo: RNZ / Carol Hirschfield