District Court Judge Dominic Flatley returned to St Peter’s College in October 2012 for the first time in thirty years. Although the school seemed smaller than he remembered and a few rooms had changed function, it was mostly reassuringly familiar.
Dominic's story continues below
Dominic was guest speaker at the Blues Assembly. In 1982, as Head Boy, he had spoken on the same stage at the school’s first ever prize giving ceremony. He told his audience that his memories of his time as a pupil at St Peter’s were happy ones. He had enjoyed being part of a close knit and nurturing community, where he made lasting friendships and still sees many of his old school friends today.
He described himself as academically average at school, but he excelled as a swimmer and swimming has remained his passion. He was president of the swimming club in Invercargill until recently and still swims two or three times a week and takes part in international competitions.
When he left St Peter’s for Otago University he thought he might go on to teach, but then had a feeling that he should study law and after graduating, practised as a lawyer in Central Otago for two years.
Dominic’s family had originally emigrated from England to New Zealand when he was just five years old. His father was a printer and worked first at the Southland Times in Invercargill and then at the Ensign in Gore. After his spell as a lawyer, Dominic and his wife decided to travel to the UK. Although he intended to work there as a swimming coach, he was drawn back to the law and worked for a legal firm in South London that specialised in Family Law. It was here that his future direction became clear and he knew that he wanted to work as a family lawyer and after returning to NZ, he went on to set up his own practice in Christchurch.
While there, he enrolled at Canterbury University in 1998 and gained a Masters in Education in 2003. Through his legal work he had became interested in child development and this informed his work with children caught up in legal battles involving neglect, abuse and parental separation.
Today this experience informs his work as a District Court Judge based in Dunedin. His philosophy of “the more you put in, the more you get out” has stood him in good stead as he has risen in his profession and shown just what a boy from Gore can achieve.