Julian John Watts

born 1939; died 2013

JulianWatts1Julian was born in Christchurch in 1939. He attended Fendalton School and was a ‘…a good steady worker and a most capable boy…’ according to his 1949 school report. When the family moved to Wellington in 1950 Julian went to Wadestown School along with his sister Adrienne. In February 1953 he earned the right of admission to Christ’s College, Christchurch, by sitting a scholarship. He went to the college as a ‘day boy’, staying at his grandmothers while at school. He gained his School Certificate and University Entrance in English, Latin, French, History and Mathematics. His Headmaster had this to say about him.

…Watts was an entrance exhibitioner here, and thoughout his time was a hard working, serious minded boy. He became a house prefect, gained his school cricket colours, played a good game of rugby football for the Colts, and as a Junior took a leading role in one of the school Dramatic Productions. He is a pleasant, well-mannered boy with a great application for work, and I expect him to do well in the after life. I understand his wishes to become a lawyer and I would think he is well suited for this profession

Julian at Christ’s College (second row, 3rd from right).

In 1957 he went to Victoria University, Welington, to study Law. In 1959 he won the Archibald Francis McCallum Scholarship in Law – the highest award for an undergraduate law student. He graduated with a bachelor of Law degree in 1960. The Dean of the Law faculty said this about Julian.

His academic record may be summarised as one of sustained brilliance.

While at University he was a member of the Students’ Association and a committee member of the Law Faculty Club. He also played for the university cricket club and was involved in university dramatics.

After graduating he worked for the legal firm of Macalister, Mazengarb, Parkin and Rose.

In 1961 Julian was award a Shell bursary which consisted of two years graduate study at a university in the UK. He gained a place at Pembroke College, Cambridge, taking a higher degree in Law and a two year course in economics. In September of that year he (accompanied by his sister Lyndsey) sailed on the Canberra for England.

In November 1962 he had a ‘brush with the law’.

Statement of Facts

At 8.53pm on Friday, 2nd November, 1962, the defendant was seen cycling at St Andrew’s Street and not showing a white front light. When stopped it was found that no front lamp or rear reflector fitted. A rear lamp was fitted, but not illuminated.

While at Cambridge he met Ronwen Stock. They married in 1963 at Chelsea Old Church, London. He gained a M.A. at Cambridge and the couple returned to New Zealand.

Under the terms of the Shell bursary Julian had to work for Shell Oil New Zealand Ltd for two years. His first job with Shell was to sell petrol to tobacco farmers in the area around Nelson. He and Ronwen, who was pregnant with Richard, stayed in Nelson for 3 months. In mid-1964 Julian was transferred to Palmerston North to work in the Shell office there. They stayed in Palmerston North for a year and then returned to Wellington. In 1965 Julian was offered a position with his fathers law firm, Watts and Patterson.

Julian had always been interested in politics and in 1969 he was asked to become the campaign manager for Frank Handy, his sister Lyndsey’s husband, who was standing for the National Party in Wainuiomata. During the early 1970s he became involved in the Karori electrorate branch of the National Party and in 1975 the general election he put his name forward as a National Party candidate for Karori. When he lost the nomination to Hugh Templeton he put his name forward as a candidate for the Western Hutt electrorate and won the nomination. Unfortunately he didn’t win the seat.

A local newspaper article of the time.

A Family Thing

WattsFamilyParkThe election was very much a family affair for Julian Watts, his wife, Ronwen, and their three young children. Mrs Watts was involved with coffee mornings, and house meetings. Eldest son, Richard, often went out door knocking with his father.

Julian was always pleased to hear people using his campaign slogan, “Watts for Western Hutt”. He was, however, a little disconcerted when on making a call to his home one evening, he found the telephone answered by his youngest son, James, with the words, “James Watts for Western Hutt”. Politics in the blood?

Julian in the 1970s

He continued his involvement with the National Party but taking more of a role in policy making. He was a co-founder of the Wellington-based Pol-Link “ginger” group, as it was known. This group from within the National Party’s own membership tried to bend the party toward accepting the liberal policies and ideas. The movement was ultimately to founder on the inflexible era of Robert Muldoon. He also continued working for Watts and Patterson, later to become Rudd, Watts & Stone, becoming a senior partner in the firm.

Julian had a great lover of music and put together a large record and cd collection. His tastes in music was wide and varied. Classical, jazz, rock, punk, indie albums all featured in his collection. During the late 1970s and early 1980s when alternative music was not readily available in New Zealand he used to bring back a suit case full of records when he returned from business trips to the UK or the US.

In 1987 Julian and his family made the decision to move to London after he was offered a job in the legal department of BP. He later become a deputy company secretary.

Later in life he developed dementia. He died on 1 June 2013 in a nursing home in Oxford with his wife and family at his bedside.

Married Ronwen Stock 1963