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Arnold Turner CMG, (Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael & St George) LLM, Hon MNZPT

A man of Outstanding Contribution & Integrity

Since MAHS was formed in 2006, I have known and respected this friendly modest gentleman who always had gems and stories to impart of Mt Albert and that most of us know of him as a previous Mt Albert Borough Councillor and Deputy Mayor.

What I didn't know was what a true treasure we had in our midst until our Chair John Childs mentioned the debt we owed to Arnold in his work as the inaugural Chair of the ARA Centennial Park and Regional Reserves Committee, as the Chair of the No 1 Town & Country Planning Appeal and, after retiring from judicial office, as the Principle Planning Judge for the Planning Tribunal.

Arnold's father was the first minister of the Sandringham Baptist Church and Arnold was born in the Manse at 4 Taumata Rd in 1926. The family moved to North Canterbury the following year and Arnold finished his high school education at Southland Boys High in 1942. In 1943 he joined the Public Trust office in Dunedin enabling him to start a law degree part time at Otago University. In 1946 his father's health declined and the family returned to Auckland. Arnold finished his LLM in 1949, joined a private law firm earning £6 per week and married a Mt Albert local girl Marjorie Coles in 1950.The couple went on to have four children. Arnold continued working as a lawyer for the next twenty years specializing in administrative law including town planning.

In 1953 as the result of a conversation on the tram, Harry Anderson, another lawyer who was  then Mayor of Mt Albert, asked Arnold to stand for E ward in the forthcoming Mt Albert Borough Council elections. Upon election In that same year the 1953 Town Planning Act was passed by Parliament and Arnold's job was to get a new district scheme operating. From 1960 - 62 Arnold was a member of the Auckland Regional Planning Authority and worked with FWO Jones the authority planner who was keen to develop regional reserves. Arnold was appointed the inaugural Chair of the ARA Centennial Park & Regional Reserves Committee which led to the establishment of the regional parks. It is because of Men like Arnold that today we have Wenderholme, Long Bay, Shakespear and the Manurewa Botanical Gardens to visit in our leisure time. There are not many men who give so much of their prime working and family time to have the vision of acquiring and preserving our natural heritage for the people of New Zealand. There was no such thing as remuneration for their services as there is so much of today, it was done from a sense of civic responsibility, so much credit must also go to Marjorie in her support of Arnold and in shouldering the responsibilities of home and family.

In 1968 Arnold retired from the authority and continued his legal practise. In 1970 he became a stipendiary magistrate and was appointed Chairman of the No 1 Town & Planning Appeal Board which later became the Planning Tribunal of which he became Principal Planning Judge. He was made a CMG in the New Years Honours 1984. On his retirement in 1987 Arnold Turner was made an Honorary member of the NZ Planning Institute.  Alice Wylie, his contemporary says that he brought commonsense into town planning decisions without rigidity and with integrity.

He is quoted as saying "he didn't take any nonsense if people were speaking rubbish".

One of the many cases Arnold dealt with were those involving the water rights for  the Huntly Power Station in 1973 and the Glenbrook Steel Mill.  It was the Maori stand that the blood of one taniwha must not be mingled with another. Arnold had to eventually rule that spiritual values were not relevant in judicial decision making.

Arnold retired at 70. He and Marjorie have done a lot of travelling and continue to be very involved in their local Baptist church.

Over the past few years Arnold has supplied me with articles for The MAHS website enabling us to archive written records for future generations.

Auckland would like to say thank you Arnold for the time and knowledge you have given us, for your foresight and energy in helping develop the regional reserves, for your firmness and fairness as a judge and finally for the privilege of knowing you.

Mary Inomata December 2012 return to archived local heritage articles