Launch of Borrin Foundation provides boost for legal education and research

The Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation, a new philanthropic organisation supporting legal research, education and scholarship, was formally launched on 20 February at an event at the Supreme Court hosted by the Chief Justice, the Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias.

The launch of the Borrin Foundation

The Foundation was established through a $38 million bequest by the late Judge Ian Borrin, and is named after Judge Borrin’s parents.

Victoria University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Law Professor Mark Hickford, who is also a member of the Borrin Foundation Grants and Scholarships Committee, says the launch of the Foundation is an important milestone for New Zealand’s legal community.

“With these new grants, New Zealand’s legal scholars and researchers will get a huge boost, and will have the resources required to tackle some of our nation’s biggest issues, including the question of whether our criminal justice system is as effective as it could be.”

At the event the Borrin Foundation’s five inaugural grants were announced, which include a grant for the completion of a large-scale research project about New Zealand’s criminal justice system and its institutions, operations, policies, and effectiveness with regard to Māori. The project is led by Moana Jackson, a Victoria alumnus who also received an honorary doctorate in Law from Victoria last year.

Speaking at the event, David Goddard QC – a descendant of Michael and Suzanne Borrin and Chair of the Borrin Foundation Grants and Scholarships Committee – said that the goals of the Foundation reflect Judge Borrin’s love of the law.

“Our vision looks forward to the work we can do, in partnership with our grantees and scholarship recipients, to ensure New Zealand continues to flourish under the rule of law. We aspire to work together to improve our understanding of how our laws operate in practice, to preserve and enhance their strengths, and to identify and address areas of weakness,” he said.

Judge Borrin was a longstanding supporter of Victoria’s Faculty of Law. In 2010, together with Faculty staff, he established a Visiting Fellowship in Law at Victoria, which aims to enable scholars, academics and members of the judiciary to visit the Faculty of Law, engage with the public through presentations and seminars, and enhance research by interacting with staff and postgraduate students.

Hailing from Wellington, Judge Borrin studied Law at Victoria and gained an LLB in 1958. He practised law until 1983 when he was appointed to the District Court.  He served as head of the Police Complaints Authority from 2001 until he retired in 2007.

Before his death in 2016, he established the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation to support legal research, scholarship, writing and education in New Zealand.