Monday, December 4, 2023

Waugh bids farewell after nearly 30 years

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Rev Dr Richard Waugh chaired the Auckland Brit & Euro Classic Car Show committee with the annual event being held at Lloyd Elsmore Park. Times file photo Wayne Martin
  • By Richard Waugh

Last year National Party leader Christopher Luxon described local personality Rev Dr Richard Waugh as “Quite possibly the most interesting man in New Zealand”. Richard and his wife Jane are soon retiring to Christchurch to be closer to family. It will be east Auckland’s loss. At the Times’ invitation, Richard reflects on his 29 years of local church and community service. This is part II

Editor Nick Krause has asked me to recount some of my church and community experiences so I continue sharing some reflections and conclude with a challenge.

While my church responsibilities were paramount, I have always been involved in the wider church and community wherever I have lived.

Classic cars are another interest, probably because of my father’s influence and my first job as a teenager in the motor industry in Nelson. From 2011, I started a Blokes & Cars/Bikes Fathers’ Day community event at East City Wesleyan Church in Botany which then spawned a range of other events, one of which was a display of about 25 classic Jaguar cars at Lloyd Elsmore Park in late 2014.

The site impressed Laurie Hayward and me as being suitable for a much larger event. With other enthusiasts we soon established the Auckland Brit & Euro Classic Car Show Committee. The first classic car event at Lloyd Elsmore Park was in March 2016 with about 440 cars on display.

The recent 2023 car show had more than 1200 car registrations and the annual event on the first Sunday of March is now one of the two largest free community events in east Auckland (the other being the Christmas Parade). I enjoyed my committee chairing role through this time and wish the new organising team the very best for a successful future.

Last year’s Howick and district’s 175th anniversary year event was another real highlight too. Learning about and celebrating our history, especially the unique Fencible migration scheme from 1847, is so important. There was a wide range of 175 events and with impressive multi-cultural engagement.

Marin Burgess, who worked with me in the Howick 150th, joined in again, and made a significant contribution. My wife Jane designed the 175 plaque that is now so prominent in Fencible Walk in Howick’s main street.

Reflecting back over these three decades, there has been much satisfying church and community work and many wonderful friendships. Just a few more thoughts:

A multi-cultural society is usually a blessing. However, integration and participation seem to be a challenge for some. I get concerned when some people and groups live in situations emulating their old country and seemingly not wanting to learn more about the local culture, appreciating our hard-won democratic values, or be involved in local community life.

Let’s do all we can to invite newer migrants to become more involved. Consider the well-established organisations you are involved with – how can they be more welcoming to new people?

I have often found the role of the churches in east Auckland to be under-rated and under-valued. There are more than 60 churches and collectively they have very good community attendance and significant resources.

A good number of churches have hundreds and sometimes thousands of people attending their weekend services. Youth work and social services are among the important contributions they make to the whole community.

You know, in so many ways east Auckland is not a secular society; more like a diverse society where faith and secularity live together.

In our area many churches have remarkable success stories to tell. One is Botany’s Elim Church Centre and its two schools. Another is the three Catholic parishes which are so well supported. I was impressed attending a recent service at the new St Lukes Church in Flat Bush.

East Auckland has so much potential and East Auckland Tourism has a key role – and needs more resourcing. I suggest one idea to develop is an attractional weekend on the first weekend of March each year inviting people from outside the region to visit.

On the Saturday food and entertainment in Howick village, promotion of historical sites, beach visits and local walks. Then on Sunday (after church!) the colourful and entertaining Auckland Brit & Euro Classic Car Show at Lloyd Elsmore Park, an event now of national significance.

Yes, east Auckland is a great place to live. Our three children have had very good education at local schools. Jane has enjoyed operating her architect’s business for many years. One of her final jobs was the new Presbyterian Church Centre at Maraetai.

My motivation for church and community work is because of a commitment to the Great Commandment given by Jesus; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.”

A challenge: how about every person in east Auckland committing to at least one meaningful community involvement? Whether school, church, sports or another club or charity of some kind. Such collective contributions of ‘Loving your neighbour’ makes a huge difference so east Auckland can continue to be a very good and healthy community.

Jane and I will miss views of Rangitoto and our weekly lunch at Howick Beach but, above all ,we will miss our many friends at church and in the east Auckland community. God bless.

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