June 27, 2021

Chen Palmer Principal Leo Donnelly has earned the distinction of Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Published in NZ Lawyer on 30 Apr 2021. 

Chen Palmer principal Leo Donnelly has earned the distinction of Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contributions to the sport of karate.

For 46 years, the former ombudsman and karate enthusiast has been actively involved with Karate New Zealand in the roles of participant, coach, administrator and mentor, in addition to using his legal knowledge for the sport.

“Leo applies over 46 years of legal experience to his work to benefit karate nationally and internationally,” Chen Palmer managing partner Mai Chen said. “In a sport that has over 100 million participants in five continents and 192 countries in the world, Leo’s strategic leadership saw him draft the constitutions of Karate New Zealand, the Oceania Karate Federation and the Commonwealth Karate Federation.”

Chen said that the variety of positions Donnelly has held in karate organisations indicated his “expert knowledge and understanding of the rules and bylaws of the sport.”

From 1991-2000, Donnelly served as the National Federation’s secretary-general and was appointed the general secretary of the Oceania Karate Federation in 1995, a role he continues to hold today. In 2000, he was elected as the national president of Karate New Zealand, and he helmed the organisation until 2016.

He also recorded a seven-year stint as the general secretary of the Commonwealth Karate Federation (2011-2018). Last year, he was named Karate Auckland chair.

Donnelly has facilitated relationships with Sport New Zealand, as well as with predecessors SPARC, the Hillary Commission and the New Zealand Sports Foundation. He is a life member and founder of the Victoria University Goju Ryu Karate Club, and also founded the New Zealand Universities Karate Council in 1982.

As a coach in Wellington, the Kapiti Coast and Auckland, he has helped to develop the skills of athletes who have gone on to compete on the international stage.

Donnelly was honoured last week at an investiture ceremony in Auckland. Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy awarded him the Order of Merit insignia.