‘Looking back’ at the history of the NZAHAA Inc
Compiled by Graeme Barber
Originally named the New Zealand Antique Arms Association Inc its name was changed in 2005 to recognise the the importance of preserving all arms and militaria history to the New Zealand Antique and Historical Arms Association Inc.
The early Days
From the ‘First 10 Years’ publication by Les C G Perham 1969
The forming of the Antique Arms Association was prompted by several factors.
Ten years after the war, with the collecting of antiques booming throughout the world, it was evident that New Zealand would follow suit in this field. Although many private collections of arms were well established before the Association came into being, the few who had these arms were constantly in fear of the strict arms law of that time.
A display of arms was held in the old Manning Brewery building, Ferry Road, Christchurch, during the 1958 Industries Fair. This had been organised by the Canterbury Public Relation Officer, Mr Ted Beckett. The arms were drawn from the police, museums, and to a greater extent, private collections. A register of names was kept for anyone who was interested and from this the nucleus of the association was formed.
In September, 1959, the inaugural meeting was held, with seventeen people attending, during which foundation rules for the Association were instituted. The keen interest shown was reflected in the fact that one man had travelled from a far afield as Dunedin and, subsequently, was elected to the Committee on which he still sits.
Since this date and with the guidance of a strong, active committee, we have had the Arms Act changed on two occasions to suit the need of our members. No longer is it necessary to hide priceless antique pistols and revoIvers in secret compartments or on tops of wardrobes. What is even more important is the cessation of the destruction of the arms by the police.
Each year an annual general meeting is held. This includes a grand auction where member may sell their surplus arms, and an annual shoot where the cream of the weapons is to be seen.
It is interesting at this point to note that the first Graham King trophy shoot our premier award was won with only two hit being registered on the 18in disc. Today an endurance test usually finishes on the 6in disc.
Much of our increased membership has been due to the various newspaper and television articles on our activities.
District secretaries have been appointed in all major cities and they have functioned extremely well, with local shoots and meetings being held in most areas.
From the ‘NZ Cavalcade of Antique Arms‘ publication Looking Back by Robin Rapley – 1979
How would you like a flintlock Musket for $4.50? It’s in need of a bit of restoration, but it is all there. No? Well, about an Indian matchlock, a bargain at $6? And if you want a more recent military piece to balance your collection, how about a three bander Enfield muzzle loader? You’ll have to pay big money for that of course – $16.50
If you are really affluent, maybe you’d go to $73 for a Henry in full working order. That’s the top price gun in the sale.
No, this is not an extract from ‘Fantasy Island’, but a few items from the first auction of NZAAA held on November 19, 1960. Even taking into account the high rate of inflation in recent years, these prices are ridiculously low.
The Canterbury Museum contributed many of the items offered, and put a reserve of $2 on all items, including the flintlock and Enfield.
There were 44 items on that historical occasion, three of them late entries. Some that did not reach their reserves like a midshipman’s dirk with a reserve $17, and a breast plate with a reserve of $4 were passed in.