Recollections by Cathy Arnold (Life Member).
Colin and I began collecting in 1967. Having been keen hunters it seemed to be a natural progression to learn more about the history of the firearms we were using.
We saw a segment on TV of a collector and shooter in Te Awamutu, and after we obtained a muzzle loading shotgun from a chap in Whangarei we decided to track down this guy as he was showing how to load and fire muzzle loaders. We caught up with John and Pam Ward and became fast friends. Colin learned a huge amount from John and Pam. John restored antique firearms and showed Colin the art of making springs.
When I found my first “Baby” Marlin, Leo Parkes, another keen collector, told us of a collector in Taumaruni, Ted Shoebridge. Now he had the most amazing collection and a huge knowledge which he unreservedly shared with anyone who was interested enough to listen.
Ted was the Central Branch Secretary, President and everything else .He wasted no time in roping us into the NZAAA. Ted was one of the very early members of the Association.
Colin and Leo joined immediately, but I was not able to join until 1978 as the NZAAA did not allow female members until then. Not too long after we joined, Ted talked the 3 of us into coming onto the Central Branch Committee.( Incidentally, I was a member of the Marlin Collectors Collector Club in US, long before I could join NZAAA in New Zealand. )
It didn’t take Ted too long to school me up to take his place as Branch Rep and Leo became the President of the Branch. Being the first woman on the Management Committee, caused a bit of a stir amongst a few of the older members, but I am happy to say the majority of the members, welcomed me with open arms.
Our Branch was very close to the Taranaki collectors and they were among those collectors who attended the events at Ted’s home. Ted introduced us country collectors to the Auckland Branch and we were regular attendants of their great Gun Shows. We became good friends to many of those members, friendships that last still today.
At one stage I remember that the National body became concerned at the very few members in Central Branch and began making noises about closing our Branch. Some of the Auckland Branch Members supported us so strongly that a number said they would join Central, if that was all that was needed to keep our Branch going. Thankfully it was not necessary and the idea was dropped.
Ted held get togethers at his home and collectors from all over would turn up. These events were really kind of car boot sales and each car that turned up was kind of rushed by everyone to see what was on offer. They were great times in Ted’s honey sheds.
In 1984 the first Central Branch Gun Show was held at our home in Otorohanga. These were strongly supported by Auckland and Taranaki members and still are to this day.
We held these meetings at home for over 20 years, until the parking and facilities could no longer cope with the number attending. We then shifted to the Kio Kio Hall for a few years before moving to the Otorohanga Club where it has been held ever since.
Central Branch covers a huge area, but we do our very best to give our members a chance to get together whenever we are able. Our Branch membership is steadily growing and shows no signs of waning.
We found collecting to be a great leveller too. No one gave a toss about who you were or what you did, Doctor, Lawyer, Prince or pauper. It is “what do you collect, what have you got to trade” not who you were that counts.
Our two daughters were fortunate to meet so many of our fellow collectors and were dragged with us as we travelled all over chasing more items for our collections. We have met so many wonderful people over the years of our collecting and have formed friendships that remain still. While our collections have grown over the years we have always said that the friendship and camaraderie that we have found on our journey is the most treasured of all.