Distinguished legal career and a man of many talents

Farewell Denis Kohn

Farewell Denis Kohn

LIFE TO THE FULLEST: Denis Kohn talents extended from his legal career to music, and he was an avid hunter and surfer. Picture supplied

DEFENCE counsel, musician, keen hunter and pioneer surfer.

These were some of the many roles of Denis Kohn, who lived a long and colourful life in Gisborne, with a special affection for Wainui Beach,

Mr Kohn, who died aged 84, was a member of a distinguished legal family. Father Wilfred was a partner in Wauchop, Kohn and McIntyre, the firm which Denis joined after attaining his LLB at Auckland University in 1957.

His legal career saw him take part in many high-profile trials including the double murder trial of Wiremu Matene after the shooting of Maori All Black Jimmy Leach and his daughter at Whangara.

He was also a defence counsel in the trial of Rastafarians charged with the kidnapping of Gisborne detective Laurie Naden.

One of his later cases was New Zealand’s biggest ever murder trial when 18 Mongrel Mob members were charged with the murder of Black Power gang members in Wairoa, with each having individual representation.

Mr Kohn’s client was acquitted.

Another colourful client often in strife with the authorities was helicopter pilot Joe Collins, who, deciding he needed to talk to Mr Kohn, landed his helicopter in a paddock next to Mr Kohn’s Wainui home to the amazement of locals.

His legal career extended well beyond that. He maintained an office at Wairoa for some time and was a frequent visitor to Ruatoria.

Mr Kohn also served as Gisborne coroner and attracted national publicity with his strong criticism of the Civil Aviation Authority for the time taken to prepare an accident report in the inquest into a fatal aircraft accident here.

Secretary of Gisborne District Law Society

He was secretary of Gisborne District Law Society and also served on the NZ Law Society Council.

He finally retired from the law in 1997 although he carried on for a time as a member of the Care and Protection Panel for Child, Youth and Family. He also spent a term on the Cook County Council and was a member of Gisborne’s founding Lions Club.

Mr Kohn was a talented musician and a regular performer in the orchestra of the Savage Club that was extremely popular in Gisborne for several decades.

His father was the orchestra’s conductor and father and son were the rangitira of the club.

Fellow Savage Club member Bill Paku said Mr Kohn would be well remembered for his acting ability in humorous sketches, where his ability to ad lib made him a favourite.

He was part of the popular Te Karaka Brass, a spoof on Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, with other leading musical locals.

As a young person he regularly competed as a pianist in the Gisborne Competitions Festival and won the oratory cup at Gisborne High School.

Attracted to the outdoors

The outdoors had a strong attraction for him. He was an avid hunter, hunting on Waimaha Station for more than 30 years.

He was one of the earlier surfers in Gisborne after American big wave pioneer Chip Post had visited Gisborne and demonstrated his prowess. Mr Kohn quickly took up the sport and spent many a lunchtime catching a wave before returning to the office.

Mr Kohn was married to Gabriel Cubis in 1957 and the couple had three children: Julian, Danielle and Marcus. He married Hine Manuel in 1969 and the couple had a son, Simon.

He met his present wife Robyn, a physiotherapist, after an accident in 1988 left him with some paralysis that required rehabilitation in the specialist spinal unit in Burwood Hospital, Christchurch.

After nine years together they were married in 1997.

DEFENCE counsel, musician, keen hunter and pioneer surfer.

These were some of the many roles of Denis Kohn, who lived a long and colourful life in Gisborne, with a special affection for Wainui Beach,

Mr Kohn, who died aged 84, was a member of a distinguished legal family. Father Wilfred was a partner in Wauchop, Kohn and McIntyre, the firm which Denis joined after attaining his LLB at Auckland University in 1957.

His legal career saw him take part in many high-profile trials including the double murder trial of Wiremu Matene after the shooting of Maori All Black Jimmy Leach and his daughter at Whangara.

He was also a defence counsel in the trial of Rastafarians charged with the kidnapping of Gisborne detective Laurie Naden.

One of his later cases was New Zealand’s biggest ever murder trial when 18 Mongrel Mob members were charged with the murder of Black Power gang members in Wairoa, with each having individual representation.

Mr Kohn’s client was acquitted.

Another colourful client often in strife with the authorities was helicopter pilot Joe Collins, who, deciding he needed to talk to Mr Kohn, landed his helicopter in a paddock next to Mr Kohn’s Wainui home to the amazement of locals.

His legal career extended well beyond that. He maintained an office at Wairoa for some time and was a frequent visitor to Ruatoria.

Mr Kohn also served as Gisborne coroner and attracted national publicity with his strong criticism of the Civil Aviation Authority for the time taken to prepare an accident report in the inquest into a fatal aircraft accident here.

Secretary of Gisborne District Law Society

He was secretary of Gisborne District Law Society and also served on the NZ Law Society Council.

He finally retired from the law in 1997 although he carried on for a time as a member of the Care and Protection Panel for Child, Youth and Family. He also spent a term on the Cook County Council and was a member of Gisborne’s founding Lions Club.

Mr Kohn was a talented musician and a regular performer in the orchestra of the Savage Club that was extremely popular in Gisborne for several decades.

His father was the orchestra’s conductor and father and son were the rangitira of the club.

Fellow Savage Club member Bill Paku said Mr Kohn would be well remembered for his acting ability in humorous sketches, where his ability to ad lib made him a favourite.

He was part of the popular Te Karaka Brass, a spoof on Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, with other leading musical locals.

As a young person he regularly competed as a pianist in the Gisborne Competitions Festival and won the oratory cup at Gisborne High School.

Attracted to the outdoors

The outdoors had a strong attraction for him. He was an avid hunter, hunting on Waimaha Station for more than 30 years.

He was one of the earlier surfers in Gisborne after American big wave pioneer Chip Post had visited Gisborne and demonstrated his prowess. Mr Kohn quickly took up the sport and spent many a lunchtime catching a wave before returning to the office.

Mr Kohn was married to Gabriel Cubis in 1957 and the couple had three children: Julian, Danielle and Marcus. He married Hine Manuel in 1969 and the couple had a son, Simon.

He met his present wife Robyn, a physiotherapist, after an accident in 1988 left him with some paralysis that required rehabilitation in the specialist spinal unit in Burwood Hospital, Christchurch.

After nine years together they were married in 1997.

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