London’s Lord Mayor on campus

16 March 2012

Peter Kiely, Dr Andrew Stockley, Lord Mayor David Wootton at the Barracks Wall

Our ties to the City of London, mainly through the contribution of graduates, were apparent when its Lord Mayor led a delegation to the University this week.

Alderman David Wootton, holder of the ancient office for 2011-12 and a practising lawyer, came in his role as champion of the City which, with New York, is the world’s premier financial centre.

Over morning tea the Dean of Law, Dr Andrew Stockley, representing the University, spoke of the numerous Law, Commerce and other graduates from Auckland who work in the City. He knows many of them from his time at Oxford University and, as Dean, his regular contact with Auckland alumni based in London.

The Lord Mayor, a partner in the international law firm Allen & Overy, was accompanied by the British High Commissioner to New Zealand, Her Excellency Vicki Treadwell, and fellow envoys. Their visit was organised by University Council member Peter Kiely, an Auckland lawyer who is Honorary Consul for the Slovak Republic and actively promotes links with Europe through the NZ Europe Business Council.

Dr Stockley briefed the visitors on the University’s standing, its funding, the structure of our Law degree, and academic and financial support for students. With him were two colleagues with close British and European connections: Professor Peter Watts, an external, part-time member of Fountain Court in the Temple, London which is one of England’s largest and best-known commercial barristers’ chambers, and Associate Professor Elsabe Schoeman who is Deputy Director of the University’s Europe Institute.

In discussion Mr Wootton, the 684th Lord Mayor, spoke of his optimism about the City’s continuation as a leading centre of global finance and business notwithstanding tensions with the European Union and the state of the world economy.

Formality was at a minimum during his party’s hour-long stay. Mr Wootton, who travelled dressed in colourful ceremonial regalia in an ornate gilded coach after being sworn in last November for his one-year term, arrived unobtrusively in Princes Street in a sleek grey Rolls-Royce.

His “Sword Bearer” Richard Martin, who arranges the Lord Mayor’s programme, was without the impressive weapon in a red velvet sheath that he carries on formal occasions.

“I bring it out once a week in London,” said Mr Martin. “But it doesn’t do well on aircraft — customs men have a sense of humour failure.”