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Historical Society Incorporated

January - February 2019

Prepared by Lisa Truttman, President and Editor
No. 96

(they were removed from St Ninians to that church by

Guest Speakers the parish in the 1980s when St Ninians was sold to
Auckland City Council).
We had Derek Battersby as our Guest Speaker in
December — invited as someone with a long associa- In my opinion, this is a matter of aesthetic and structur-
tion with the New Lynn area as a former borough coun- al alteration of the building, and as such is up to the
cillor and Waitakere City Councillor, and we had hoped Avondale Community Society and the Local Board/
he would talk a bit about New Lynn, and perhaps Auckland Council to decide on and to find funding.
Avondale, from past decades. I did introduce him along
those lines. Unfortunately, he thought he had been in-
vited in his capacity as a Whau Local Board member, St Ninians stuff, part 2
and so his talk was about proposed Avondale develop-
ment. Definitely just a case of crossed wires. One of our committee members, John Adam, is a land-
scape historian and author of a book on the horticultural
A couple of members walked out, though, one strongly history of Rosebank commissioned by AWHS some
expressing his disappointment that it wasn’t history. years ago, Just before the December meeting, I met up
There will always be days when we aren’t in control of with him outside St Ninians and beside the graveyard
what our guest speakers come up with on the day, fence to hopefully find out more about the war memori-
unfortunately. al trees.

The speaker for February will be Joanne Graves from According to the centenary booklet for St Ninians,
Auckland Libraries. published in 1960:

“1946 - In this year a portion of the Church grounds

beside the Cemetery was set aside and dedicated as a
St Ninians stuff, part 1 Memorial plot. On it were planted five trees in memory
of the five Bible Class boys ... The ceremony was at-
AWHS member Trevor Pollard during our December tended by many friends of the Church, and the Ladies'
meeting brought up yet again that he wants to see cop- Guild, whose members arranged the ceremony, after-
ies of the Ingram family stain glass windows installed at wards served afternoon tea in the hall.
the building, plus the Presbyterian “burning bush” sym-
bol painted. I have advised him on multiple times be- Order of Tree Planting:
fore now that AWHS do not own the building, we only 1. RIMU - for Corporal A McK. Weir, planted by
hire it from the Avondale Community Society, who in Flight-Lieutenant James Weir.
turn lease it from Auckland Council, and that continual- 2. POHUTUKAWA - for Sub Lieutenant Arthur
ly coming to us is not going to advance his project. Thompson, planted by James Bird.
3. TOTARA - For Flight-Lieutenant Walter Clark,
Still, I invited him to provide details of what he wants planted by Flying-Officer Cecil Rainey.
to see done, and I’d forward it through to both the 4. KOWHAI - for Sergeant-Pilot Alex Mee, planted by
Whau Local Board and the Avondale Community Soci- Warrant Officer Graham Burgess
ety for those organisations to make their decision. 5. FLOWERING CHERRY - for Private Alex Pringle,
planted by Colin McGregor.”
Trevor told me verbally before Christmas that he has a
price of $19,000 for replacement copies of the win- The rimu does not appear to have survived, and
dows, the originals at the moment at the Union Parish descendants of the flowering cherry have appeared else-
Church on Rosebank Road, next to the Nafanua Hall where in the graveyard, but the other three of the five
trees do appear to date from the planting in 1946, the
Next meeting is kowhai today inside the later white picket fence.
Saturday 2 February 2019, at 2 pm, John is looking into things and will report back, but it
St Ninians Hall, St Georges Road, does look at this stage like those trees form a war
Avondale. memorial grove — at the moment, whether the trees are
protected under Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan The totara was planted for Flight Sergeant Walter
schedule is not known. Norman Clark, son of William Rogers Laurie Clark and
Mary née Rainey. He attended Avondale School and Mt
The rimu was planted for Alexander McKenzie Weir Albert Grammar. He was killed in an aircraft accident,
who died 3 December 1942 while a POW in Italy. He aged just 22.
was the son of James Weir and Agnes née Ingram of
Gilfillan Street in Blockhouse Bay. James and Agnes The kowhai was possibly planted for Sgt. Alexander
are buried in the graveyard. Coutts Mee of the RNZAF, who was killed during air
operations 7 May 1941, aged 23. The connection with
The pohutukawa was planted for Sub-Lieutenant Arthur Avondale is still not certain.
George “Tommy” Thompson, whose father Rev Freder-
ick Arthur Thompson served at St Ninians from 1925 to The flowering cherry was planted for Private Robert
1929. Alexander Pringle, who died during the defence of
Egypt in the Western Desert, 4 July 1942. He was the
AIRMAN KILLED son of Allan and Elizabeth Pringle, and lived in
SUB-LIEUT A G THOMPSON Roberton Road, Avondale.

Official advice has been received by the Rev and Mrs F Once we have more information, and if the Society
A Thompson, of 4 Cockburn Street, Grey Lynn, of the agrees, we’ll get quotes for an interpretive sign to be
death of their son, Sub-Lieutenant Arthur George installed at the grove, and approach the Local Board
("Tommy") Thompson, Fleet Air Arm, as the result of and Council for permission, possible funding assis-
an aircraft accident. tance, etc.

Sub-Lieutenant Thompson was on the reporting staff of A (Nearly) Accidental Christmas Posting
the A uckland Star for three years and joined the Fleet
Air Arm in September, 1940. … After rigorous training AWHS member Dawn Moffatt, who runs the raffle and
in many phases of naval work, as well as in flying, he trading table at our meetings, asked me to pass on the
received his commission in September, 1941, two following story to you all. Just before Christmas, one
months after gaining his wings. ... particularly hot day, she was on her way to post an
envelope at her local postbox. At the time, a postal
During his 12 months training in England he had nu- employee was there emptying the box, and Dawn came
merous adventures in bombing raids. He left England in up to him, asking if her envelope could go in his bag as
April, 1942, on his twenty-third birthday for an over- well. Just as he said yes, and reached out his hand for
seas station … His cheery nature and easy competence the mail, Dawn felt the effects of the heat and passed
in sport and study earned him an exceptionally wide out, thankfully into the kind gentleman’s arms, but near-
popularity in a diversity of circles. ly into the mail bag. Don’t worry, Dawn’s fine, but
definitely has an unusual Christmas posting tale to
(Auckland Star 21 January 1943) remember!