Thursday, 20 February 2020


One family, 10 life memberships

No organisation hands out a life membership easily. They are usually well-considered and awarded in recognition of a person’s significant and lengthy voluntary contribution to a particular cause. In almost every case, the recipients never look for recognition. They unselfishly just get on with the job at hand and commit many unpaid hours for the greater good of the organisations they are involved with.  

For Whitianga’s extended Grant family, who earned 10 life memberships between seven of them, being involved in a number of different and worthy causes is something that has always come naturally. And when they commit to an organisation or a particular project, it’s always head down and shoulder to the wheel for long periods of time.

The interesting thing about the family is that their dedication was never focused towards one particular cause. A number of different interests and the contributions make the family unique.

All but two of the family’s life memberships were awarded for contributions made to, and within, the Mercury Bay area

It all started with parents Barton and Joan Grant who were involved in the Mercury Bay Golf Club for many years. Barton and Joan joined the golf club as social golf players in 1976 and became involved in the administration of the club almost from the outset. Barton was honorary auditor from 1985 to 1998, holding a tight control of the club’s finances, while Joan was on the ladies committee and helped with the organisation of ladies golf on Wednesday mornings.

In memory of Barton and Joan, a tree marked by a plaque was planted between the second and third holes.

Joan was also a life member of the Bay of Plenty Thames Valley Ladies Veterans Golfing Society.

Siblings Peter Grant, the late Margaret Carter and Claire Glaser headed in other directions, along with Claire’s husband, the late Arthur Glaser, and Peter’s wife, Betty.

Margaret, Arthur and Claire were awarded life memberships of the Whitianga Art group in 1993, while Peter and Betty became life members of the Mercury Bay Tennis Club in 2000.

Peter is also a life member of the Coroglen Dart Club and the Mangere Combined Tennis Club in Auckland.

The Whitianga Art Group has a very interesting history - from the purchase of an old Kuaotunu School building and its relocation to its current home in School Road, Whitianga to the group’s name change from Whitianga Painters to the Whitianga Art Group in 1981. 

At one stage during the group’s rich history, artists found inspiration by painting scenes from the original tip in Whitianga. Old boats, cars and general chaos was captured. To the surprise of the artists themselves, a number of these painting sold.

Arthur was the author of a booklet recording the first 35 years of the Whitianga Art Group.

Since 1940, only nine life memberships have been awarded by the Mercury Bay Tennis Club. Peter and Betty’ contribution to the club has been nothing short of outstanding. Peter became treasurer in 1983 - a role he still holds to this day. Betty was club secretary on eight occasions between 1982 and 2012 and was the club president from 1994 to 1999.

When the tennis club was struggling for membership in 1984, a business house tennis competition was established, which was a huge success. The competition was credited with being the saviour of the club. Peter became the main organiser of the competition from day one, which is another role he continues to enjoy 35 years on.  

While Peter and Betty are both very proud of their achievements, they say it was people like, Amy Lee, who held the position of treasurer for over 30 years and was also a Mercury Bay Tennis Club life member, who made a real difference. “It’s always hard to single out one person when so many in the community pitched in to initially establish and at times picked a club up off the floor, when it went through some rough patches,” says Peter. “Amy was a real hero in our eyes. Her life tennis club membership in 1952 was truly deserved.

All of the different organisations the Grant family have been involved in over the years played a significant role in making life in the Mercury Bay area what it is today. The organisations have all come through the occasional tough and challenging because of the dedication of people like Barton and Joan Grant and their children and spouses.

“Life membership is very special and, although we weren’t looking for it, it’s nice to be recognised for the effort we have all put in,” says Peter.   

Pictured: Peter Grant, the older of three life memberships, with his wife, Betty (on the right) and sister, Claire Glaser. Betty and Claire hold one life membership each. 10 life memberships were earned between the seven members of Whitianga’s extended Grant family.


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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.