Maurice Ge­of­frey Mehrtens: 1926–2016

New Zealand Classic Car - - NATIONWIDE NEWS -

out­h­ern mo­tor-in­dus­try iden­tity Ge­off Mehrtens was re­cently farewelled in ex­actly the style he en­joyed in life: no mess­ing about, no sad­ness, and with every­one shar­ing in a laugh at his Dunedin fu­neral and a cel­e­bra­tion of a life full of ac­com­plish­ments. Writ­ten trib­utes were many, and eu­lo­gies from his fam­ily — es­pe­cially sons David and Richard — had many shar­ing in the laugh­ter prompted by mem­o­ries of a man with a keen sense of hu­mour.

Artist and daugh­ter-in-law Jenny Mehrtens com­pleted a char­coal draw­ing of Ge­off, which was dis­played at his send-off.

Ge­off had a long-term affin­ity with early vin­tage cars, be­gin­ning with a 1906 Reo he found as a wreck and re­stored. This ve­hi­cle sur­vives today in a pri­vate col­lec­tion in Auck­land. In a move typ­i­cal of Ge­off’s style, the fam­ily as­sisted to have the car at the nearby wed­ding of grand­daugh­ter Anna, as her wed­ding car, when he couldn’t make it to Auck­land due to fail­ing health ear­lier this year.

There was a num­ber of other vet­eran and vin­tage cars, too — al­ways re­stored to pris­tine state from usu­ally im­pos­si­bly dif­fi­cult con­di­tion. They in­cluded a 1910 Tal­bot 4AB, a 1906 Cadil­lac sin­gle-cylin­der run­about, a 1911 Cadil­lac Tourer, and a 1924 De­lage DI Alpine Tourer. He loved to drive any­where, and of­ten did.

While Ge­off was first a mem­ber of the Can­ter­bury Vin­tage Car Club, his in­ter­est in vin­tage cars grew when he moved to Ti­maru to work with Mo­bil Oil. He was in­stru­men­tal in form­ing the South Can­ter­bury Vin­tage Car Club in 1954. In 1956, at the sug­ges­tion of Harry Wigley, Ge­off helped es­tab­lish the Ao­rangi Car Rally, which runs to this day, cel­e­brat­ing the first tourist ve­hi­cle to travel from Ti­maru to Ao­rangi / Mount Cook, around Fe­bru­ary 1906. Ge­off be­came an Otago Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion coun­cil­lor and a mem­ber of Ro­tary, in which he was three times awarded a Paul Har­ris fel­low­ship and logged a 100 per cent at­ten­dance record. In 2015, his 60 years of con­tin­u­ous paid mem­ber­ship were ac­knowl­edged by the New Zealand Vin­tage Car Club. He was also in­volved for a num­ber of years in the run­ning of the Dunedin Street Race.

Ge­off is sur­vived by his wife, Ros­alie; two sons and a daugh­ter; and grand­chil­dren Anna, Lucy, Ben­jamin, Sa­muel, Thomas, Josh, and Ri­ley.

Ge­off Mehrtens, char­coal draw­ing re­pro­duced by per­mis­sion of the artist, Jenny Mehrtens

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