Tributes flow for man killed in motorcycle crash
ANY motorcyclist will understand the feeling. It's the sun on your face, the wind flying through your hair, the roar of the engine beneath you, and nothing but open road ahead.
For Andrew Hooker, sitting atop one of his beloved motorcycles was absolute bliss.
"There's nothing like a ride on the provinces to clear the mind," he said in a 2015 interview for NZ Lawyer magazine.
On Wednesday, the prominent New Zealand barrister and solicitor was test-driving his new Harley Davidson with a friend when tragedy struck.
Mr Hooker and his wife Julie-Anne had just completed the construction of their dream home in Ashby, a small neighbourhood nestled in the northern arm of the Clarence Valley region. Perched on a breathtaking spot that overlooks The Broadwater, it was the ideal place for Mr Hooker to begin a new chapter in his life.
After decades of standing up for those who couldn't afford civil justice, Mr Hooker retired from international law firm Shine Lawyers in August last year, leaving behind a legacy of innovative civil and insurance litigation.
"He commenced the first New Zealand representative action, being litigation against banks for unfair bank fees," Angela Parlane, managing partner for Shine Lawyers said.
"He also led legal action on behalf of many Christchurch homeowners against the Earthquake Commission in relation to failed EQC repairs."
Even in retirement, Mr Hooker continued to be a consultant to Shine Lawyers. But in his spare time, he'd jump aboard his motorcycle and hit the road.
As life will attest, sometimes ordinary days can turn to the worst, doing what you love can result in unfathomable tragedy in a mere blink of an eye.
While out test-driving his new Harley Davidson, Mr Hooker and a friend were heading north along the Old Pacific Highway, a route which takes them across the old Harwood Bridge, now dwarfed by its replacement a few metres away. Possibly unbeknown to Mr Hooker, at the centre of the bridge is a vertical lift span which allows yachts to pass through the Clarence River at various times.
It's understood he continued along the bridge while it was opening, travelled under the boom gate and collided with a section being raised.
Upon learning of his tragic death, former clients have come forward to share how Mr Hooker supported them during their time of need.
"Andrew fought tooth and nail for us against our insurance company when they refused to pay out our policy after we lost our house in the September earthquake," one Auckland resident posted on social media.
"Without his dedication we would never have received our payout."
Ms Parlane echoed similar sentiments about her predecessor.
"His tireless dedication to his clients and passion for the law has resulted in life changing outcomes for so many of his clients," she said.
"His personality was larger than life - a true entrepreneur and visionary thinker.
"He had an incredible energy and could capture a room, and he was frequently a media commentator on insurance law issues on television and radio."
Andrew Hooker is survived by his wife Julie-Anne and two adult children.