Bri­tish Car Club Comes of Age

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New Zealand Classic Car - - NATIONWIDE NEWS - Words and Pho­tos John Mctav­ish

It would be hard to think of a bet­ter place in Tau­ranga for the Bri­tish Car Club to hold its 21st An­niver­sary Car Show cel­e­bra­tions, held on Sun­day, Jan­uary 18. Bri­tish-man­u­fac­tured cars bring to mind her­itage and his­tory. There is no more his­toric site in Tau­ranga with a con­nec­tion to Bri­tain than The Elms.

In 1834 the Church Mis­sion­ary So­ci­ety pur­chased the site to be the mis­sion­ary sta­tion from which The Rev­erend Brown and fam­ily would dis­pense en­light­en­ment to all and sundry. The per­ma­nent build­ings that made up the Mission House were not com­pleted un­til 1847, and re­main to­day much in ap­pear­ance as they did then. The Browns, when they weren’t me­di­at­ing and en­light­en­ing, es­tab­lished the grounds in the im­age of the land from whence they came. In­cluded was an av­enue of elm trees. The grounds, like the build­ings, re­main as lovely as they must have been more than a cen­tury and a half ago, although it is un­likely that archdea­con Brown con­sid­ered his ef­forts would make them so suit­able for a 21st-cen­tury car show.

In 1873 the Church Mis­sion­ary So­ci­ety, its pri­or­i­ties else­where, sold the Mission House and grounds to archdea­con and Mrs Brown, who re­named the prop­erty The Elms. They car­ried on their good works un­til the archdea­con re­tired in 1883. They and their descen­dants re­mained as own­ers un­til the death of the last sur­viv­ing fam­ily mem­ber in 1997, when ti­tle was gifted to the Elms Foun­da­tion. The Foun­da­tion, to­gether with Friends of the Elms, is ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing this gem, now squeezed be­tween the CBD and Har­bour Bridge, for the en­joy­ment and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of all.

As it hap­pens Ron Har­vey is both pres­i­dent of the Bay of Plenty Bri­tish Car Club and chair­man of the Friends of the Elms. Nat­u­rally the lo­ca­tion and Ron’s stew­ard­ship, with the help of his com­mit­tee, guar­an­teed a won­der­ful event. And so it proved, with many prais­ing the archdea­con’s fore­sight in plant­ing the many shade trees that were a god­send on the hot day that Sun­day turned out to be.

Each of the four lawn gar­dens sur­round­ing the main house had cars rep­re­sent­ing the mar­ques that make up the Bri­tish Car Club, with more than 80 cars of Bri­tish man­u­fac­ture, from a Hum­ber and Sun­beam from the early 1900s to a Lo­tus from the early 2000s. There were cars rep­re­sent­ing clubs and mar­ques from Alvis, Mini, Ford, Vaux­hall, MG, Wolse­ley, Ri­ley, Mor­ris, Jaguar, Rolls-royce, Tri­umph Her­alds and Stags, Austin Healey, Daim­ler, Bent­ley, Rover, Lo­tus and Sun­beam.

Among the cu­riosi­ties was a 1958 Mor­ris Ox­ford that had done the 2013 Pek­ing to Paris Rally, com­ing 17th out of 100 cars. An­other un­usual car was the 1969 Mini de Joux made in Auck­land in the style of a fast­back Mini. Per­haps the most note­wor­thy restora­tion was the Se­ries One Land Rover re­stored to mil­i­tary stan­dard by ex-army tech­ni­cian Owen John­ston.

The hon­our of cut­ting the Bri­tish Car Club’s 21st birth­day cake went to val­ued mem­ber and sec­re­tary/trea­surer Jo Edlin. Cater­ing was pro­vided by the Beth­le­hem Li­ons Club, which came per­ilously close to run­ning out of Real English Bangers. Luck­ily my as­sis­tant and I got in early enough to en­joy a sausage or two and a glass of home-made lemon­ade, con­sumed in very civ­i­lized sur­round­ings.

Thanks must go to the descen­dants of archdea­con Brown and the cit­i­zens of Tau­ranga, who took up the man­tle to en­sure The Elms was pre­served. Equal thanks must go to the own­ers of the cars that were on dis­play, for their ve­hi­cles are also an im­por­tant part of our her­itage, and wor­thy of preser­va­tion.

01 02 03 04 05 Pres­i­dent Ron Har­vey with his 1955 Alvis TC21 Grey Lady at The Elms New Zealand–made 1969 Mini de Joux Brassy 1913 Sun­beam 12/16 1955 Austin-healey 100M Stags on show, 1973 and 1974 Tri­umph Stags

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