Monday, 29 January 2007

Blueskin Bay Person of the Month: Rev Arthur Templeton QSO MA

As proved to be the case with its inhabitant, there's much more to
Arthur's place than meets the eye. The narrow, winding driveway opens
out to a lovely old mid-20th-century Kiwiana country house with
spreading elm, bowling green and the obligatory red NZ Post Office
phone box converted to a more earthly use.

Arthur recalls remarking to his wife Ina as they went up the drive
for the first time: "This might be the place." They moved in on 31
July 1975, "…the night half of Canterbury's forests blew down in a
fierce norwester. I spent the night keeping an eye on an enormous
bluegum which I feared would fall on the house."

Arthur worked for many years as a social worker at Dunedin Hospital
while preaching on Sundays as a volunteer Minister at the North East
Valley Church of Christ. Living out here, the Blueskin Union Parish
would ask him to preach occasionally – this developed to the point
where Arthur ended up preaching every Sunday. In those days he and the
congregation switched week-about between Blueskin Union's Warrington
and Waitati churches. "Ina and I used to drive to town in two cars.
I'd preach at the North East Valley Church of Christ at 10, then sneak
out during the third hymn while Ina played the organ to the end of
service. I could be at Waitati or Warrington by eleven." In this way,
Arthur preached in two locations and two denominations in as many

Arthur might have been the earliest to leave the 10 o'clock Service,
but he must have been one of the latest in leaving the Ministry:
"Presbyterian ministers must retire at 65. I was 70 before they had
even asked me to be 'stated supply' [ie to become Blueskin Union
Parish minister]. Later, when they found out I was 85 I was told if I
didn't jump, I'd be pushed. So I retired in November 2000."

By this time the Blueskin parish had closed its Waitati church
(opposite the Waitati Hall and Library) which was later converted to
a home. Arthur joined the congregation down in the pews at Warrington.
The Parish was dealt a severe blow a few years later when a dozen or
so parishioners shifted, and it is now amalgamated with Knox Church in
Dunedin. The church in Warrington held its last service in 2004 and
has also become a family home.

Arthur's late wife Robina or "Ina" (rhymes with "diner") was well
known as an art educator for organizations like the YWCA and WEA. "She
completed 101 terms of art tutoring," Arthur recalls. An important
role for Arthur was framing the 12 000 or so hand-painted miniatures
of New Zealand scenes Ina produced and sold around the country at
tourist sites like the Mt Cook Hermitage and Rotorua's Gobelin House.

Friends helped the couple build the "Artina Gallery" in an old
bowling-green teahouse. "It still has 250 paintings: that's a
twentieth of Ina's output." That comes to 5000 paintings, a remarkable
effort. Now and then Arthur comes across another one or two, popping
out from odd corners of the house while he's looking for something

Arthur Templeton turned 91 in September 2006. A keen motorist, he is
looking forward to the rescinding of the annual test for older drivers
later this year. As he is known to have said at a University
Chaplaincy function a few years ago, "I retired a while ago now, but I
spelt it with a Y."

Interview by Peter Dowden. First published in 'Blueskin News' 2
September 2006 and presented here with minor corrections.

"copyleft" by Blueskin Media - may be freely re-edited and
republished. If you want to credit the source it's "".

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