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Homosexual Law Reform Retrospective: Personal Points of View:

In Memoriam: JWG

By JH Robb.

My most positive and enduring memories of the days of Law Reform efforts are those of the number of pleasant and friendly people whom I came to know, and who I would probably never have met had I not become involved. Of all of these I recall most clearly and most often the late Jack Goodwin. In case, with the passage of time and the rising of a new generation, his contribution should fade from the collective memory I would like to contribute a few words about him.

Jack was a professional journalist, very much the professional, not only with a long career in New Zealand but also with experience in Britain and South-East Asia. During the last several years of his life he was the editor of the journal National Education. One of the marks of his professionalism was his concern for accuracy and, as an aid in this direction, his careful accumulation over the years of an astonishingly large and varied collection of newspaper cuttings. He constantly surprised his friends by his ability to produce, like a conjuror from a hat, information in aid of their interests. The value of this collection for the reform campaign, especially in its early days, was considerable.

Throughout the long years of the campaign Jack, as secretary of the Law Reform Society, kept a hawk-like watch on the media and, at times almost daily, would produce press releases which were a model of accuracy and clarity. He was also a model in terms of keeping the lines of communication open. I could not even try to guess the number of times I have picked up the phone to hear the well known voice saying "Could I just check this with you before I send it out over your name?". It was rare for me to feel any need for revision.

Life was never dull with Jack around. An inveterate punster, he was able to defuse almost any tension that could arise in a committee meeting. He was an invaluable partner in facing a Parliamentary Select Committee or a similar body, feeding in a steady stream of information, tactical suggestions, cautions against giving the opposition openings, and so on.

The law reform movement owes him an enormous debt.

JH Robb

Emeritus Professor Jim Robb’s voice was one of the earliest calling for reform and he was for many years President of the New Zealand Homosexual Law Reform Society.

Some of our readers may not be aware that the collections of the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand have benefited greatly from Jack Goodwin’s estate, so it may be particularly timely to acknowledge this highly tangible continuation of his contribution to our lives. The Jack Goodwin Collection is based on a gift of books which came from Jack’s estate. It now numbers literally thousands of books and pamphlets, magazines and newspapers. - Ed. [Friends of LAGANZ.]

[Reproduced from Issue No. 10 (June 1996) Friends of LAGANZ.]

Last updated: 02/11/02

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