Bill Holland moves to new role at HOBEC

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Well-known Tauranga lawyer Bill Holland will transition in April to a new role at major Bay law firm Holland Beckett Law (HOBEC).

Holland retired as a partner effective the new financial year, but will continue working at the firm as a consultant.

“I’m not going anywhere,” the affable lawyer told Bay of Plenty Business News.

Holland Beckett was originally started by his father, William Holland Senior, in 1937.

The son joined in 1976, and has been a mainstay ever since. HOBEC – as it is generally known – has grown into one of the region’s biggest law practices, with some 50 lawyers and offices in Tauranga, Rotorua, Whakatane and Opotiki.

“It’s a big outfit now and the firm’s going really well,” said Holland, who has a long history of active involvement in both the business community and in philanthropy.

The well-liked and respected lawyer, who is now 66, said the firm used to have a retirement age of 65, but after discussion with fellow partners a few years ago, it was raised to 70.

But Holland said that, given the rate of technological change in the law sector, he had never envisaged working till that point.

“I’ve got these younger partners who are much smarter than I am,” he said.

“I’m not up with the play in terms of new technology and I’m happy for others to be driving that forward. I was thinking last year that I was going to stand down sometime as a partner.

“But I never intended to retire. I continue to really enjoy what I’m doing and I won’t be changing my law practice as such.”

Holland notes that some of his clients have been with him for 40 years and were originally clients of his father or their children.

“I have a wonderful relationship with them and I wouldn’t want to stop.”

One issue that has blindsided Holland over the past year was his diagnosis of bowel cancer last August, which he emphasises was completely unrelated to his plans to retire as a partner.

“It was entirely coincidental that I’ve had this major health incident.

“Fortunately, after two bouts of surgery and subsequent tests, I am currently not showing any signs of the cancer.”

Holland specialises in trust law and commercial and property transactions. He was born, raised and educated in Tauranga.

He is deeply immersed in the city’s business world and has had a long involvement with economic development agency Priority One.

Chief executive Nigel Tutt said Holland had played a huge role in shaping Priority One as an organisation.

“Bill has been a passionate supporter of economic development in Tauranga and in particular has recognised the important link between the economy and the wider community, especially for young people,” said Tutt.

“We look forward to his continued enthusiasm and support in the future.

Community contributions

Holland acts as legal advisor to a large number of Tauranga’s leading business people and has been active with a number of community organizations.

He has received a number of awards over the years for his services to the community, including being made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in 2012 for services to the community.

He recognised from an early stage the huge potential benefit to the community in encouraging private philanthropy and in 2002 he travelled to the US to investigate the concept of community foundations, which have long been utilised there as a tool in promoting philanthropy.

Upon his return he played a major role in establishing the Acorn Foundation.

In 2003 he produced the original trust documentation on a pro bono basis, and served as the chair for eight years.

The success of the Acorn Foundation in Tauranga has provided a model for other community foundations to follow in both New Zealand and Australia.

Because of his personal philanthropy and his involvement with the Acorn Foundation, Rotary International honoured him with a sapphire pin to add to the Paul Harris Fellowship (Rotary’s highest honour) he had already received for service to philanthropy.

He was elected in 2012 to the Board of Trustees of Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust and has served as TECT’s chair since 2014.

He also serves on a number of national and local Charitable Trusts, voluntary boards, and advisory committees.

Holland has also been actively involved in helping bring the University of Waikato campus to Tauranga. Senior deputy vice-chancellor, professor Alister Jones, told Bay of Plenty Business News that Holland had been an enthusiastic supporter of University of Waikato’s development in Tauranga.

“His leadership was instrumental in guiding the funding arrangements from community funders and he worked tirelessly to ensure its success,” said Jones.

“It is a pleasure working with him and his guidance is always valued.

“Bill understood the operating environment of the university and ensured that both parties’ expectations would be met to create a truly iconic development for the city and the university.”

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