Membership of the New Zealand Antique Arms Association (NZAAA) was open to all bona fide adult persons, 21 years of age and above, who are interested in collecting antique weapons, medals, badges, and military accoutrements, and who have been introduced and recommended by a Member
I first met Len in 1958 when I was in Standard 5 at the then new Hoon Hay school. His son was in Standard 4 and Len’s property in Maryhill Avenue backed onto the school grounds. His son must have mentioned my already well established interest in guns (I had a few by that stage) and I was invited to visit one Saturday morning. Len was very welcoming and as he realised my passion for collecting he then started dragging guns out for me to examine. I would often visit on a Saturday when he was home from work and show him little treasures I had unearthed. After the Industries fair display in 1959 (which I spent a lot of time at) he told me of the formation of the NZAAA. I couldn’t join as membership was restricted to over 21 and I was only 12 but Len introduced me to other collectors like Les Perham, Marshal Voyce, Cyril Atkinson, Jack Lowe, Neville Smith, etc. over the next few years- Rod Woods.
I first found out about Antique Arms at the Industries Fair in Moorhouse Ave from members who for years manned a stool there. As an enthusiastic 13 year old I was invited to some of the local meetings held at the home of Bob Parker Senior in Barrington – Warren Collingwood
The Association was formed to protect the interests of all Antique Arms Collectors in New Zealand. It shall:
- Endeavour to make representation to the Government with a view to revising the existing Laws relating to the possession of antique firearms by bona-fide Collectors, and also Laws governing their import and export.
- Endeavour to promote and facilitate the exchange and acquisition of antique articles between Collectors throughout the world.
A Standing Committee was elected annually at its AGM consisting of a President, Vice Presidents, National Secretary (up to 2) and eight members.
The Annual Subscription to the Association set in 1959 was ONE POUND, payable in January each year to cover one year from then. The first of such payments was due in January, 1960.
The Association met in Christchurch at least once yearly for;
- the exchange of information and reports,
- to further the ”interests of’ Members,
- to submit a balance-sheet, and
- to elect Officers for the coming year.
From the first year the annual event held in Christchurch also consisted of an auction followed the next day with a shooting event. Over time this event became notorious for car boot sales that took place in the car park area.
I also got to know Ed Smith, Mick Rennie, and Keith McFadgen very well during my teenage years. Len and I kept in fairly regular contact and I sold a few interesting items to him over the years, including an all-steel pair of Scottish percussion pistols of Birmingham manufacture which Len liked. He gave me a fair price but I later regretted selling them. I wonder where they are now? We lost contact for several years while I got married and went overseas but upon my return I was working in Tisdall’s sports shop in Cashel Street and Len began working at Cromb & Merritt’s sports shop across the road. Although I had attended many NZAAA shoots at West Melton in my teenage years and kept up my contact with other collectors, I was still not yet a member of the Association at the age of 22, due in part to some trouble I had had with the Police for unregistered pistols. When I did apply there was quite a bit of opposition from some of the older and more specialist collectors but Len spoke up for me and was supported by the other collectors I had come to know over the years. The rest is history. Len was ably supported by Leonie and we saw a lot of each other until they both passed. He was always welcoming and had a lively sense of humour, and always managed to lighten any occasion with a quip or two – Rod Woods.
In the beginning as the Association was formed in Canterbury the majority of its members, Officers and Committee domiciled in this province. By 1964 the Associations spread had reached Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Timaru and Dunedin so District Secretaries were selected in each of these Cities to promote its activities and grow both membership and local activities. In 1968 the Central North Island added a District Secretary. Coinciding with rule changes in 1973 it became possible for areas to become Branches (sub committees) of the Association with their Branch Chairman added to the Associations Management Committee. Their officers consisted of a Branch Chairman, Secretary/treasurer and a minimum of 3 committee members. Both Taranaki and Canterbury became Branches at this time.
Any 50 members of the Association who reside within 50 kilometers of any one post office but not within 100 kilometers of an existing Branch had the power to form a Branch. Taranaki . In 1979, through this rule Hakes Bay and Southland increased the complement of Branches to 10.
Monthly Management Committee meetings were held in Christchurch to which Branch Representatives were invited. This was rarely possible but all Branches received minutes and could add items to the agenda and respond to minutes.
In 1993 the name was changed to the New Zealand Historical and Antique Arms Association in acknowledgement of the changing collecting landscape
In 1993 the Association went through a sometimes heated metamorphosis which created a Management Committee of an elected President, Vice President, appointed Secretary/Treasurer and all Branch Representatives. Meetings immediately reduced to twice yearly at an Annual General Meeting and General Meeting hosted by Branches in rotation.