The 1916 Aeroplane Fund

On the 13th of May 1916 it was announced in the Waikato Independent newspaper that the Mayor of Cambridge, Mr. Mervyn Wells, had received communication from the Mayor of Auckland, Mr. James Gunson that an Auckland Provincial Aeroplane Fund had been formed. The letter from Gunson read:

“Dear Sir, —Some time ago, at the request of a number of citizens, I called a public meeting, and it was then decided to open a fund of a Provincial character, with the object of donating an aeroplane to the British Government. This has been followed in other Dominions, and has been very enthusiastically taken up.

About £1000 has been collected; another £1500 is required. The £1000 referred to has come from the city. The Committee dealing with this matter desire me to communicate with you and solicit your kind assistance.

The Patriotic Association has 20 centres in the Province, and if each centre could contribute £50 that would provide £1000. We would then undertake to provide the remaining £500 in the city.

The aeroplane would be donated from the Auckland Province, and be known as that, and named accordingly. A New Zealand boy would become its pilot.

Some think that this is a matter which should be left entirely to the Government, but actually on examination it is a proposal which might mean a very great deal on behalf of New Zealand in furtherance of the very fine work which we have already done in recognition of our responsibilities and privileges as an integrable part of the Empire.

If, therefore, your committee can see its way to take a canvass to secure and remit the £50 desired, personally I shall appreciate it very much, and the Committee I am sure will be deeply grateful for your assistance.

The development of aerial work is of first importance and therefore, anything we can do to contribute to that end, or show that we are not unappreciative of the position, is an Imperial duty.

Will you kindly advise me as to whether you can render the assistance suggested herein? — Thanking you in anticipation ”

The newspaper stated that the local Board of Trustees were welcoming subscriptions to the fund and that subscribers could forward their money to Mr. F.J. Brooks (the Hon. Treasurer to the Board) or to Mervyn Wells himself.

On the 25th of May 1916 the Waikato Independent reported:

"Mr Horace Hunt, Hon. sec. of the Auckland Provincial Aeroplane Fund, wrote asking that a strong effort be made to obtain further subscriptions towards the fund. The Town Clerk reported that practically no subscriptions had been received. Members thought this was doubtless due to the fact that since the war broke out constant appeals had been made to the local public, who had responded well to the call on behalf of the sick, wounded and distressed. It was thought that such things as aeroplanes should be providted by the authorities at once if such were needed."

Nothing more seems to have been mentioned in the Cambridge newspaper after this.


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