A legal institution built on strong foundations
Legal offices of JH Hankins, founder of Fitzherbert Rowe’s parent firm, Fitzherbert Abraham & Co
The firm now known as Fitzherbert Rowe came into its modern form in 1988 as the result of a merger between Fitzherbert Abraham and Rowe McBride, two very strong Palmerston North-based law firms.
The first of these firms was Fitzherbert Abraham, which had at that point been serving the region for more than a century. It was founded in 1881 by J.H. Hankins, for whom the Hankins Shield (the oldest senior club rugby trophy in New Zealand) is named. At the time, the then village of Palmerston North comprised just 1,364 people.
1881 notification of the new law firm
The occasion was noted by the old Manawatu Times:
"We are constantly reporting the erection of some new building or the arrival of some new settler, both of which are sure indices of the material progress of the town. We have now to chronicle the intended advent in Palmerston North of Mr. Herbert Hankins, solicitor… Some little time ago we were congratulated upon the existence of two papers; a week ago we referred to Palmerston North being able to support two auctioneers; and now it is to be honoured with no less than five gentlemen of the long robe."
Hankins was joined in partnership by his son-in-law William “Budge” Fitzherbert in 1907, for whose family one of the main streets and a suburb of Palmerston North are named. His name lives on in the present name of the partnership of Fitzherbert Rowe.
Fitzherbert Rowe’s second parent firm, known as Rowe McBride at the time of the merger, was formed in 1950. Beginning as a partnership between Gordon Rowe and Kevin O’Sullivan, the firm had steadily grown in size to attract new clients and business.
In 1988, Rowe McBride was approached by Fitzherbert Abraham & Co about joining forces. From the resulting merger, the firm of Fitzherbert Rowe emerged – and has continued to have a dynamic presence on the Manawatu business and legal scene ever since.