Bill had an impressive career. Alongside his life’s work in law, Bill developed and supported the NZ film, arts and dance community. He was credited, along with filmmaker John O’Shea, with launching New Zealand’s early Film Commission. Bill’s efforts were behind the production of many of New Zealand’s most iconic early films such as Goodbye Pork Pie, Utu and Smash Palace.
Bill was also involved with the Royal New Zealand Ballet from the 1950s, later becoming its chair for 17 years. He was associated with numerous organisations and trusts related to the arts and theatre over the years, after graduating.from Victoria University with a combined law/arts degree in 1953.
For his lifetime contribution to the arts he was awarded an OBE in 1973 and later, made a Companion of the NZ Order of Merit. More recently, Bill was recognised as a Wellington icon by the Wellington Gold Awards 2019 for his substantial contribution to New Zealand’s film and arts scene.
Both Bill and Gibson Sheat Lawyers have a long history with our Chamber, in fact in excess of 50 years. The first records we can find are of Bill as a Board member attending a Chamber Board meeting in April 1970. He was active on the Board for many years through the 1970s and in 1975 was our Hutt Valley Chamber President – around the same time he was campaigning for the creation of the NZ Film Commission. He was also leading the Hutt Valley Chamber’s work in addressing the shortage of housing in Lower Hutt (some things don’t change!)
Bill was an advocate for many causes over many years. He fought for what he thought was right and worked hard on behalf of many causes and his clients at Gibson Sheat Lawyers.
Bill passed away at the age of 90 on 20 January 2021. Without people like him, who volunteer their time, expertise, passion and energy, tirelessly advocating on behalf of others, including our very own Hutt Valley Chamber, we would not still be in operation after all these years and not be in the position today, to be the voice for local business.
Rest in peace Bill and thank you for all you have done to make the Hutt Valley and Wellington a better place.