Killed af­ter prayers

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Janie Smith

A 61-YEAR-OLD man who died af­ter be­ing at­tacked at a Royal Oak bus stop had been pray­ing for the com­mu­nity just hours be­fore the as­sault.

Gra­ham Wal­lace Ar­cus was walk­ing home from a prayer meet­ing when he was punched to the ground out­side the Watch­man’s Lane bus stop in an un­pro­voked at­tack last Satur­day night.

He died three days later from his in­juries.

His son Tim, 27, says the prayer meet­ing was fo­cused on pray­ing for peo­ple in the close com­mu­nity.

“In ef­fect, he was pray­ing for the peo­ple who beat him up.”

The at­tacker fled and Mr Ar­cus was helped by wit­nesses and neigh­bours and taken to hospi­tal, where he later died.

His chil­dren Tim, Paul, 29 and Anna, 33, have gath­ered to sup­port each other and their mother Edith, who is dis­traught.

Sis­ter Ju­dith, 31, is on her way home from Ye­men, where she works as a mis­sion­ary.

They are still puz­zling over why their fa­ther de­cided to walk home from the meet­ing when he would nor­mally get a ride.

“Some­how he just made up in his mind he was go­ing to walk home. It’s still a bit of a mys­tery. The peo­ple at church are dis­traught be­cause no one gave him a ride,” says Tim.

Anna says her fa­ther would get a lift with a num­ber of dif­fer­ent peo­ple and no one re­alised he had left to walk home.

They say Mr Ar­cus would have been stunned and con­fused to be vi­o­lently at­tacked.

“Be­cause vi­o­lence was very much not in his na­ture he didn’t un­der­stand it. So he would have been shocked and not too sure what to do or what was go­ing on,” says Paul.

Tim says var­i­ous med­i­cal con­di­tions in­clud­ing strokes, heart trou­ble, di­a­betes and rheumatoid arthri­tis had made their fa­ther un­steady on his feet.

“A 10-year-old could have done the same dam­age. It would not have taken much at all to get him on the ground. It was like pick­ing on a child.”

He was con­scious but con­fused when first taken to hospi­tal, but his con­di­tion de­te­ri­o­rated and his health prob­lems made surgery to re­lieve the pres­sure on his brain im­pos­si­ble.

Mr Ar­cus, who has lived in One­hunga since 1986, was well-known in the com­mu­nity and was a tire­less vol­un­teer.

He helped lo­cal groups, clubs and el­derly women, who are now de­ter­mined to pay trib­ute to him.

“We’re hav­ing all sorts of phone calls from com­mu­nity groups who want to do some­thing,” says Anna.

Tim re­mem­bers his fa­ther as lov­ing and a gen­tle­man.

“He was a hero to lo­cals and a role model to a few of my friends grow­ing up.”

Mr Ar­cus was a mem­ber of the Royal Oak Bap­tist Church on Sy­monds St and worked as a mis­sion­ary in Pa­pua New Guinea, where he also be­came prin­ci­pal of the teach­ers’ col­lege.

Upon re­turn­ing to New Zealand, Mr Ar­cus was a Chris­tian mis­sion di­rec­tor and a pas­sion­ate gar­dener who re­trained as a land­scape gar­dener at Unitec.

The fam­ily says those who knew him in the com­mu­nity are “ab­so­lutely shocked” by his death.

“We would like it if some­thing came out of this where more peo­ple helped the com­mu­nity and we could get some of the ones who are de­stroy­ing the com­mu­nity out of it and into re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion,” says Anna. •A 24-year-old Man­gere man yes­ter­day ap­peared in the Auck­land Dis­trict Court charged with Mr Ar­cus’ man­slaugh­ter.

Po­lice said news of the ar­rest was wel­comed by the fam­ily.

“The as­sis­tance from wit­nesses over the past few days has en­abled us to progress at con­sid­er­able speed and we and the Ar­cus fam­ily are very grate­ful for that,” says de­tec­tive sergeant Greg Cramer.

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