Obituary - historian, Arthur Fryer

We acknowledge the passing of leading Taranaki historian, Arthur Fryer, aged 86, in Hawera and reflect on his contributions to heritage.

Arthur Fryer
Arthur Fryer surrounded by books.expand/collapse

Arthur had a great knack of bringing together quirky stories and histories from around Taranaki and keeping them in front of readers over many years in the Taranaki Daily News, Hawera Star and other papers.

Our Senior Outreach Advisor, David Watt, knew Arthur and his late wife Anne well, and often stayed with them when the former Taranaki Branch Committee of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust met in Hawera.

"Arthur could keep you awake all night with his stories and writings," comments David.

"He was so dedicated to history. His stories were eagerly awaited in the local papers through his regular columns. He was a wonderful friend to many and is a great loss in the wider Taranaki community."

Kelvin Day, a long-serving secretary on the Taranaki branch committee and a manager with the New Plymouth District Council says one of the things he liked about Arthur was his great enthusiasm for the smaller stories not often captured in big histories: "He was a such a mine of information and such an enthusiast for his history.  He was a very humble man with a dry sense of humour, who had a great ability to laugh at things," Kelvin recalls.

Patea Historical Society president and member of the regional heritage organisation, Heritage Taranaki, Jacqi Dwyer describes Arther as "an absolute gentleman" and a valued member of the Historical Society. "He was an amazing source of information. If I had questions, particularly about Hawera, I’d go to Arthur. He could quote all sorts of stuff and knew which buildings had been owned by whom."  

Arthur was a schoolteacher at various schools around Hawera including 15 years at Hawera Intermediate. He often said that story telling shows the universality of human experience.

He wrote several books, with his last work published in July 2020 about Hawera street names, which he compiled with his good friend and fellow historian Ross Corrigan.

We extend our deepest sympathies on his passing to his sons and their families.