Pahiatua emigrants return to reminisce
Pahiatua’s loss is Palmerston North’s gain, judging by the numbers who turned up to a reunion last week.
More like Pahiatua’s loss is New Zealand’s gain as more than 250 ex-pats from the Tararua town who now largely live this side of ‘the bump’ registered for last Friday’s luncheon at the Cossie Club in Linton St.
With roll-ups, one of the organisers Bill Devonshire reckons there were in excess of 270 people gathered to catch up with one another and hear reminiscences from Sir David Carruthers, chairman of the Independent Police Conduct Authority, also born and raised in Pahiatua.
‘‘When you come from Pahiatua, it never leaves you,’’ Sir David told a crowd already converted to that way of thinking. He regaled them with memories of his younger days in the birthplace of the former prime minister Keith Holyoake – a town with a name that can mean ‘Resting place of the god’.
From the Mangatainoka brewery to the magistrate’s bench, Sir David was fully familiar with most aspects of life in his hometown, and the townsfolk with him.
‘‘No-one has any illusions about you,’’ he says, including presumably the six former classmates he caught up with over lunch.
The centre of life in the small town was based around the activities of the volunteer fire brigade, who apparently put on one of the best shows in town. Anecdotes included the time 130 firefighters taking part in a national competition answered an alarm en masse, turning up to put out a chimney fire in a Pahiatua cottage, and fair startling the reclusive occupant.
He revealed how the impression made by a member of the local constabulary made him want to be a police officer. However, his lack of stature back then precluded that.
‘‘Revenge is sweet,’’ he told the gathering. ‘‘I am now in charge of overall police conduct.’’
He also remembered the postwar Polish children’s camp, calling it ‘‘a wonderful Pahiatua story’’.
Sir David now holds two current politicians in more favourable light having discovered that Labour’s deputy Annette King and NZ First deputy Ron Mark both hail from Pahiatua. Annette and he actually trod the boards together as members of Pahiatua Repertory.
Graduating from Victoria University in Wellington, Sir David practised in Wellington, returning to practise law in his home town of Pahiatua before opening his own practice in Palmerston North.
He was appointed a Family Court judge and Youth Court judge in Wellington in 1985, and Principal Youth Court judge in 1995. That led to his appointment as Chief District Court judge in 2001, a position he held until his retirement in 2005. Chairman of the New Zealand Parole Board from 2005 he was appointed chairman of the Independent Police Conduct Authority in 2012.
An outspoken supporter of restorative and therapeutic justice initiatives, Sir David says in order to obtain better outcomes which reduce crime and acknowledge victims’ concerns, it is better to involve communities directly in the criminal justice system.
He was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005 for his services to the District Courts, and was knighted by the Governor-General in 2009.
Organiser and former Manawatu Standard photographer Maurice Costello was extremely happy about the occasion and said that Sir David’s talk set the tone of the gathering perfectly.
The reunion follows one held a year ago that attracted 130 ex-pats.
‘‘When you come from Pahiatua, it never leaves you’’ Sir David Carruthers
Independent Police Conduct Authority chairman