CAMERON, Christie Alexander, M.B.E., M.C.
Business man and civic leader; founder, Young Farmers' Clubs.
Better known as “A.C.”, Alexander Christie Cameron was born on 9 August 1893 at Roslyn, Dunedin, the son of William Robert Cameron, of Aberdalgie Parish, Perthshire, Scotland, a Dunedin exporter, and Elcena Agnes née Christie, of Dunedin. Cameron was educated at Dunedin, where he devoted a lifetime of extraordinary service to the community and the nation. His interests were unusually varied and, in spite of the demands of an expanding business, he gave to each an intensity of energy and purpose which few men in the context of life in the Dominion have equalled, and without neglecting the more intimate ties of family and church.
Cameron began his business career with W. E. Reynolds and Co., Dunedin, but soon transferred to the National Mortgage and Agency Co. Ltd., of which he became export manager, spending a year in London. He was then appointed Dunedin manager and, later, general manager of the Farmers' Mutual Insurance Association. In this position he successfully established the Farm Accounting Association of New Zealand, a parallel business for serving farmers. He retired on 31 March 1961, after 35 years' service, and died suddenly at his residence, 54 Grendon Street, Dunedin, on 14 April 1961.
As president of the Chamber of Commerce during the depression of 1931–34, he guided it in its task of finding employment for every youth aged between 17 and 20 – a service regarded as one of the finest pieces of social work ever done in the province. During the Second World War he was a member of the Otago Provincial Patriotic Council, chairman of the Dunedin Committee, and deputy chairman of the Otago Council of Primary Production. He played a large part in the arrangements for celebrating Otago's centenary in 1948, was vice-chairman of the Centennial Committee, and chairman of its Historical Committee, which supervised the publication of the History of Otago and of 17 district histories, a record no other province has achieved. Other Dunedin organisations that claimed Cameron's interest – and with him “interest” was synonymous with “action” and usually also with “leadership” – were the Dunedin Amenities Society, of which he was president at the time of his death, the Citizen's Association, the University Club, the Board of John McGlashan College, the Hocken Library, and the Friends of the Museum.
Two nation-wide associations to which he gave devoted service were the Young Famers' Club movement and the Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand. As an extension of the “educational weeks” which he organised in Otago and Southland in the thirties, he founded the Young Farmers' Clubs – a movement that had just been conceived – first in Otago and Southland and then further afield. He also promoted the formation of the New Zealand Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs, of which he was successively the first president, then patron, and finally recognised officially as founder. He was a member of the Royal Agricultural Society, being honorary secretary of the Southern District Council for over 20 years, and was also a member of the Dominion Council, on which his thoughtful contributions of ideas and in debate marked him out as one who never lost sight of the larger aims of a national organisation.
Cameron was a member for many years of the Dominion Council of the Plunket Society, a member of session of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Dunedin, and sessions clerk of the local Chinese Church. His war services – he enlisted at the age of 20 – included four years with the New Zealand Field Artillery in the First World War; he was four times wounded, three times mentioned in despatches, and was awarded the Military Cross in 1917. For his services to the community he received the M.B.E. in 1951.
On 6 June 1922, at Perth, Perthshire, Scotland, Cameron married Dorothy Mary Smith, M.B., CH.B.(EDIN.), by whom he had one son and two daughters.
by Leonard John Wild, C.B.E., M.A., B.SC.(HON.), D.SC., formerly Pro-Chancellor of the University of New Zealand, Otaki.
Otago Daily Times, 14 Apr 1961 (Obit).