Judge Neil MacLean, New Zealand’s First Chief Coroner, Dies: Cause of Death Explored

New Zealand’s first chief coroner, Judge Neil MacLean, passed away this week. Read on to know how did Neil MacLean die, what happened to him, and what was the cause of his death.

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MacLean is remembered for his compassion and the reforms he led during his tenure. He was among the first leaders in the world who discussed youth suicides and solvent abuses publically to spread awareness against them.

Who was Neil MacLean?

Neil MacLean was the first chief coroner of New Zealand. The Judge started his law career in 1967 and became the first-ever Chief Coroner in 2007. He graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1967. MacLean was appointed a District Court Judge in 1993.

He rose to national prominence in 2007 and turned out to be one of the most influential men in the history of New Zealand. MacLean undertook several reforms of the system at the time. He even introduced a national system that ensured coroners’ availability on a 24×7 basis.

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The two most notable events of his career included working with the families of the Pike River mine explosion victims and the families of those who died in the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

MacLean was made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order in 2015 for his services to the judiciary.

How did Neil MacLean die?

Judge Neil MacLean died on Friday, November 18, 2022. His age at the time of his death is not revealed at the time of writing. The unfortunate news of MacLean’s death was made public by his family and confirmed by the people he worked with.

MacLean is remembered for the compassion and sincerity he showed for his work and his people. Here is the official obituary for Neil MacLean:

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The Office of the Chief Coroner also released a media statement honoring the life of Judge Neil MacLean.

“He was a strong advocate for improved reporting and more open discussions on suicide,” states the release.

It adds: “He frequently appeared in the media to discuss matters such as youth suicide, cyberbullying, and solvent abuse, and to ensure the public was aware of the work of the Coroners Court.”

Neil MacLean dead: What was the cause of his death?

The specific cause of Judge Neil MacLean’s death is unknown at the time of writing. It wasn’t made public in the statements confirming his passing this past Friday. We are trying to reach out to the people close to him to find more details surrounding the circumstances of his death.

An Internet theory claims that Neil MacLean died due to natural causes. He was an old man who had lived through a long and tiring life. We will still update this section with the ultimate cause that made him leave this world.

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Tributes Appear for Judge Neil MacLean

Prominent personalities of New Zealand, his friends, and people from across the globe are paying respect to the late Judge Neil MacLean

“He fostered excellent working relationships with key stakeholders including ESR, the police, and health professionals,” said former Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall while praising MacLean’s incredible leadership.

“Also, I appreciated the way he engaged with the members of the bench and involved us in the setting up of the new service,” said Coroner Peter Ryan.

Raising suicide awareness – Judge Neil Maclean


“Judge MacLean was very wise, and I learned a great deal from him and felt privileged to have worked with him, but also to have gotten to know him as a very jolly, warm, friendly, and kind gentleman,” said Coroner Sue Johnson.

He will forever be a part of New Zealand’s history books. MacLean is survived by Susan, his wife of 53 years, their three children, and their families. Our heart goes out to them.

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