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Frank Haigh papers.

Identifier: MSS-Archives-94/6

Scope and Contents

Collection includes correspondence, personal and political; financial records, documents, etc.; personal memorabilia; papers relating to various organisations, including Abortion Law Reform, Auckland City Council, Auckland Harbour Board, Auckland Medico-Legal Society, CARP, CARE, International Commission of Jurists, Labour Party, Legal Research Foundation,Tree Society, and Voluntary Euthanasia Society.


  • 1920, 1945-1993


Conditions Governing Access

Not restricted

Biographical / Historical

Obituary notice from New Zealand Herald 20 July 1992: Mr Frank Haydn Haigh OBE, a former prominent Auckland lawyer who championed activist and union causes, has died at Auckland Hospital, aged 94. Mr Haigh retired in 1985 at 87 after a professional lifetime of representing the little man, unions, and sometimes unpopular causes. Mr Haigh was a committed lawyer of the left during the long and bitter Auckland waterfront dispute of 1951. His son, Mr John Haigh, also a lawyer, recalled yesterday that in acting for the unions he was "not exactly regarded favourably" by many others in the profession. When he was introduced to the late Minister of Justice, the Hon Ralph Hanan, the latter remarked, "Oh you're the chap that spends his time fighting for lost causes". In 1973 Mr Haigh's friends gathered to thank him. The guest list was something of a who's who of people from the Campaign Against Rising Prices, the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination, the Carpenters', Northern Drivers', Seamen's and Labourers' unions, the Maori group Nga Tamatoa and the Humanist and Rationalist associations. Those who knew him well described him as an old-style radical-liberal, the sort of man credited by Bernard Shaw as having a "capacity for moral outrage". Mr Haigh was born in Invercargill of an English father and Irish mother. His first job was as a cadet-clerk in the Lands and Survey Department in Wellington. This whetted his appetite for law and he was taken on as a junior clerk by a prominent Wellington lawyer, Patrick Joseph O'Regan. After qualifying he joined the Auckland law firm Russell McVeagh before starting his own practice in about 1925. The firm expanded and became known as a notable left-liberal outpost of the legal community. Its clients included several large trade unions as well as people from the academic and literary worlds. Some of these became Mr Haigh's close personal friends and poets such as A.R.D. Fairburn, R.A.K. Mason and Denis Glover knew the Haigh home as a haven of hospitality and encouragement. In the 1960s his firm gave a job to a young law student named David Lange. Mr Haigh was a long-time fighter for workers' compensation rights and he applauded the 1982 Accident Compensation Act as one of the most important laws passed during his legal career. Mr Haigh was made an OBE in 1990 for services to the community. He is survived by his wife, Honey, and sons, John and Tim. A daughter, Susan, died about 10 years ago.


2 metres (14 boxes)

Language of Materials



When Mrs Ann (Honey) Haigh died in 1993, Dr Judith Bassett of the History Department, University of Auckland, retrieved 21 cartons of papers from the Haigh home in Bell Road, Remuera, and presented them to the Library's MSS and Archives Collection. The cartons were found to contain legal files, papers tied up in bundles, loose papers, and some hundreds of issues of current affairs, legal and literary journals. Unfortunately a number of the bundles (or possibly legal files) were irretrievably water damaged and had to be discarded. This may account for a paucity of material in fields where more would have been expected. Certain legal files relating to individual clients were returned to Mr John Haigh. Journals found loose in the boxes were not retained but many of the bundles, which F.H. Haigh had himself arranged under subject, contain journals and clippings from journals, and are evidence of his wide reading around subjects that interested him.

Inventory of the Frank Haydn Haigh papers, 1920, 1945-1993.
Kay Stead
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand