CALDER, Rev. Jasper, M.B.E.
Clergyman and social worker.
Calder was born at Ponsonby on 22 May 1885, the second son of the Rev. William Calder, vicar of All Saints' Church and later Archdeacon of Auckland. He attended the Ponsonby School and the Auckland Grammar School, and after a period in a city office took up studies at King's College, London, and St. John's College, Auckland. Entering the Anglican ministry in 1910, Calder earned notoriety as curate at Whangarei by taking part in a buckjumping contest on the spur of the moment and coming out winner. This and his interest in racing (he did not bet) caused him to be known for a time as “the sporting parson”.
After a period as vicar of Grey Lynn and curate at St. Matthew's, a city church, he helped in 1920 to launch the Anglican City Mission, of which he was head for the next 26 years. In addition to directing the evangelistic and social work of the mission, he was a pioneer of the health camp movement and founded two institutions, a permanent camp for children at Oneroa, Waiheke Island, and a convalescent home at Campbells Bay. In the depression of the 1930s he opened a soup kitchen and, in face of some criticism, a “doss house”, which he managed most effectively thanks to a full understanding of rough characters and their ways. He was awarded the M.B.E. in 1935. In 1941 he went to California for a holiday, and when the Pacific War broke out, he worked his passage to Sydney as a seaman in a cargo vessel. While running his mission he took charge for five years of a city parish for which a minister could not be found. He also served as honorary probation officer to the Auckland Racing Club, doing much useful work among young jockeys, apprentices, and stable hands.
When he retired from the mission, Calder settled on a suburban farm, where he grew vegetables for charitable institutions. For 10 years before his death he operated in succession two large launches, in which he took an estimated 6,000 children, old folk, and other deserving people for excursions on the Waitemata Harbour. In recognition of this he was given the honorary title of chaplain to the yachtsmen of Auckland. He died on 10 February 1956.
Calder was a mercurial extrovert, who took pleasure and pride in being himself, with little regard for conventional manners or the opinions of straitlaced people. He had a ready tongue, a flow of rough wit, and a consistent delight in doing the unexpected thing. He was reported to have once said that what he did not know about life could be written on a cigarette paper. He combined this knowledge of the “other half” with a strong sense of duty to all types of unsuccessful and unfortunate folk, whom he helped during most of his life.
by Alfred Fearon Grace, Journalist, Auckland.
- New Zealand Herald, 14 Feb 1956 (Obit)
- Evening Post, 11 Feb 1956 (Obit).