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Arthur Paul Harper

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Arthur Paul Harper (1865 – 30 May 1955)

The inaugural meeting of the New Zealand Alpine Club was held on the 11th of March 1891 and was called by a notice signed by G E Mannering and A P Harper. The latter was elected as the Club’s first Secretary and Treasurer, while his father, Leonard Harper, was elected first President.

The following year, 1892, Arthur was elected to the UK Alpine Club. He was made an Honorary Member of both the UK Alpine Club and the American Alpine Club in 1932.

Responsible for the revival of the NZAC in 1921, he held the office of President from 1914 until 1932 at which time he was elected to Life Membership.

Arthur took a leading part in the formation of the Federated Mountain Club and was their second President in 1933, remaining on the committee until his death. His last three years spent as Patron.

In 1934 he was appointed to the NZ Geographic Board and in 1938 became a Government nominee to the Tongariro Park Board and so remained until it was disbanded in 1953. While 1948 was the year he became President of the new National Parks Authority representing the Forest and Bird Protection Society, holding that office also until his death.

During the NZAC’s Jubilee year of 1941, Arthur was fittingly elected “President for the Year”. He published his “Memories of Mountains and Men”, a personal record of his life to the age of eighty, in 1946.

Awarded the C.B.E. Commander of the British Empire for his services to mountaineering, the establishment of National Parks and for his interest in the preservation of native flora and fauna in 1952. He was also a recipient of the Loder Cup, New Zealand’s premier conservation award.

Climbing History

With G E Mannering – first crossing of Ball Pass, first exploration of the Murchison Glacier, the first ascent of Harper Saddle (1890).
First ascent of the Nollenhorn, Switzerland with the Reverand George Broke.
First ascent of the Davie in the Waimakariri in 1912.


Married Marion Florence Campbell in 1899. Had two sons and two daughters. One son being killed in WWII.
For more information on Harper family history please follow this link:
Nixon Pictures – Eric Harper

Further reference:

NZAC Alpine Journals (various articles over the years, obituary June 1955 edition)
Encyclopaedia of New Zealand online
Harper_Arthur_Paul.pdf (PDF, 30KB)

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