Old suit­case Tawa his­tory trea­sure

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Who knew so much in­for­ma­tion could be found in one suit­case?

Tawa His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety’s lat­est pub­li­ca­tion is their big­gest yet – at 156 pages – and the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s chair­man Bruce Mur­ray is an ex­cited man.

Arthur Car­man’s Suit­case is some­thing he and co-au­thor David Wood have worked on-and-off at for nearly two years and to see it in print is a big deal.

‘‘ This man was well worth writ­ing about, a fas­ci­nat­ing guy and one of of the great ser­vice lead­ers of our time.’’

It’s a bonus that Arthur Car­man, who died in 1982, aged 80, lived most of his life in Tawa, for it pro­vides Mr Mur­ray with a rich amount of fod­der to write a colour­ful his­tory.

Mr Car­man, a book­seller who lived in Iti (now Kowhai) St was a long-stand­ing bor­ough coun­cil­lor, es­tab­lished both the New Zealand Cricket and Rugby al­manacks – out of his own pocket – and held po­si­tions on the Welling­ton Hos­pi­tal and Hutt Val­ley Elec­tric boards. He was prom­i­nent in the Methodist Church, hold­ing bi­ble classes for more than 100 chil­dren in his own home, and he recorded much about lo­cal his­tory.

Mr Car­man’s Tawa Flat and the Old Porirua Road was a start­ing point for much of the work the His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety do to­day.


‘‘He was enor­mously in­flu­en­tial and while not an in­tel­lec­tual, was a deep thinker about is­sues and his­tory. He was the only press cor­re­spon­dent that went with the 1924-25 All Blacks [the In­vin­ci­bles], just ex­tra­or­di­nary.

‘‘ And he was ar­rested and im­pris­oned for preach­ing paci­fism [dur­ing World War II].

‘‘He was a deeply com­mit­ted Chris­tian, even though he never forced his views upon any­one.

‘‘In terms of lo­cal his­tory, he’s a gold­mine, some­one who col­lected facts and fig­ures, pho­tos and doc­u­ments go­ing back to the 1840s.’’

Much of these doc­u­ments were con­tained in an old suit­case bound by twine. It was given to Mr Mur­ray by the Car­man fam­ily fol­low­ing Arthur’s death.

‘‘ Like the suit­case, Arthur was, in the best sense of the words, sim­ple and straight­for­ward,’’ says the book’s fore­word.

‘‘He did not seek limelight. He did what had to be done. Like the suit­case, he gave ser­vice, and he gave it in many di­rec­tions, and over a long pe­riod of time.’’

The suit­case con­tained news­pa­per clip­pings, an­nual re­ports, agen­das and min­utes, pho­to­graphs, maps, ti­tle searches and even let­ters, death no­tices and Els­don Best’s writ­ings. In all, it was more than 20 years of ac­cu­mu­lated data, Mr Mur­ray says.

Wood and Mur­ray had ‘‘huge co­op­er­a­tion’’ from the Car­man fam­ily, who no longer live in the area

The book costs $30 and is avail­able at Tawa Li­brary or through the so­ci­ety.

An ini­tial print run of 150 has sold well, Mr Mur­ray says.

The of­fi­cial launch will be at the Tawa Com­mu­nity Cen­tre – which used to house the old bor­ough coun­cil cham­bers where Mr Car­man spent a lot of time – on July 4 from 6pm.

The so­ci­ety has Vol­ume 3 of Best of Tawa com­ing out be­fore year’s end, along with an­other book on the old Tawa Hall, where the Sal­va­tion Army store is now.

The so­ci­ety hopes that as part of Tawa His­tory Week 2012, it will have a ma­jor pho­to­graphic dis­play set up in the com­mu­nity cen­tre.

Tome of knowl­edge: Tawa His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety chair­man Bruce Mur­ray is con­fi­dent the newly-re­leased book Arthur Car­man’s

will be­come a re­source for lo­cal peo­ple to find out more about their sub­urb.

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