Businessman served wider community

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 05:00 14/07/2012
John Bentley Morrison
Murray Lloyd Photography
COMMUNITY SERVANT: John Bentley Morrison has died aged 82.

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A Wellington businessman and founding director of investment bank HRL Morrison & Co, John Bentley Morrison, has died aged 82.

He suffered a heart attack last Sunday while playing tennis, which led to his death on Tuesday.

Sir Michael Hardie Boys, the former governor-general who became a friend of Morrison while working with him as a lawyer, said he squeezed the life of three normal people into one.

"He would never give anything up. He was just the sort of man who was determined to go on as long as he possibly could," said Sir Michael, who will deliver a eulogy at Morrison's funeral at St Paul's Cathedral, at 1pm next Tuesday.

Born in Timaru in 1930, Morrison was the youngest of six children, two of whom were killed in World War II. His older brother is Hugh Morrison, whose sons Rob and Lloyd are among New Zealand's most distinguished businessmen.

He was schooled in Auckland before studying at Victoria University, graduating with degrees in law and arts.

After graduation he joined the law firm Hardie Boys, Haldane, Scott, where Sir Michael's father was a partner.

There he built a major conveyancing practice, becoming a partner in what would eventually become Morrison Kent. A partner for 25 years, Morrison remained a consultant to the firm until his death.

"His work was impeccable. It was amazing how he fitted everything in," Sir Michael said, recalling how his friend managed to cope with his clients as well as outside interests, ranging from charities and the arts, to 25 years as the consul general for Denmark in New Zealand.

Along with brother Hugh, and Lib Petagna, Morrison was a founding director of HRL Morrison & Co, the investment bank led by the late Lloyd Morrison, which manages Infratil.

Morrison had a wide range of community interests, serving on the boards of the National Museum, the National Opera and Bowen Hospital. He was also involved in the Anglican Church.

In the 2001 New Year's Honours List he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the arts, in particular music.

His efforts also included charity, frequently volunteering at the Wellington City Mission, where he helped serve Wellington's homeless.

"He was a really passionate supporter of Wellington, but also a passionate supporter of those who might not have had a lot," said nephew Rob Morrison, the Kiwibank chairman who led the consortium that rescued the Wellington Phoenix last year.

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John Bentley Morrison is survived by wife Diana, the couple's five children, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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