1942: Musick Memorial Station opening ceremony

New Zealand Herald, 13 January 1942, p 6

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“The unity that prevails here to-day in our desire fittingly to honour a great man, is symbolic of the unity that is felt in the hearts of all British and American citizens, said the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. P. Fraser, at the official opening of the Musick Memorial Centre yesterday. The ceremony was attended by Consular representatives of the United States, members of both Houses of Parliament, and representatives of Government, local body, aviation and other interests, and a small gathering of Auckland residents.

“We are gathered to honour a great American citizen, who was a benefactor to mankind,” the Prime Minister continued. He said the American and British people had between them spanned the oceans of the world with their air routes, to meet in New Zealand. To-day the two countries were standing together in a life and death struggle for freedom and democracy, which could be won finally, and stabilised, only by a democratic victory on land, at sea and in the air.

Bonds Made Stronger

The part already played in the war by the United States, through the lease-lend procedure, was acknowledged by Mr. Fraser. He also paid a tribute to President Roosevelt in steering the course he had decided to follow. Japan’s ruthless and treacherous attack on Pearl Harbour was a misuse of air-power, but since this attack the United States and Britain were bound in stronger bonds than ever before.

The great achievements of the late Captain Edwin C. Musick, in whose honour the centre has been named, were reviewed by the Prime Minister. He referred particularly to the occasion on Boxing Day, 1937, when Captain Musick, of Pan American Airways, and Captain J.W. Burgess, then of Imperial Airways, met at Auckland. Representatives of the airways of the two great Anglo-Saxon countries came together on that occasion, which was almost a prophetic forerunner of where the two countries stood to-day.

Tragedy overtook Captain Musick on his third southward flight to New Zealand. Captain Musick started flying in 1911 and never was a “stunt” flier. He instructed American pilots during the last war, and entered commercial aviation afterward, pioneering many important routes and holding many records. For all his success, Captain Musick, in common with other great fliers, was a modest man, who endeared himself to all who knew him.

Interest in America

The late Prime Minister, Mr. Savage, and various local bodies thought that there should be a fitting memorial to Captain Musick, Mr. Fraser continued. The Auckland Harbour Board established the Musick Scholarship.

Mr. Fraser said he had had a message that the United States Government regretted that circumstances prevented a representative coming from Washington direct to attend the ceremony. Prior to the entry of Japan into the war, it had been hoped that Captain Musick’s widow might be present, but conditions in the Pacific had changed.

Wartime restrictions were mentioned by Mr. Fraser. He said petrol cuts had reduced the size of the crowd from thousands to hundreds, but the presence of so many, showed that Captain Musick’s sacrifice had touched the heart of the New Zealand people.

The Consul-General for the United States, Mr. Raymond E. Cox, drew a parallel between the great explorers of the past, and the great fliers of to-day. He expressed his Government’s appreciation of the fact that the centre was linked with the name of an American citizen, of whom the United States was proud.

Brave Adventurer

“Edwin Musick was a pioneer, and he and his men, in the Samoan Clipper, were trying to give service to mankind,” Mr. Cox said. He added that the people of the United States were aware that the dedication was taking place, and his Government had enjoined him to express its happiness at this new link connecting New Zealand and the United States.

Representing the United Kingdom, and also Tasman Empire Airways, Limited, Sir Harry Batterbee referred to Captain Musick as “one of the brave band of adventurers who gave their lives that man’s conquest of the air might be won.” He said there was taking place a development in Anglo-American co-operation not only in establishing man’s mastery in the air, but also his mastery over tyranny, treachery, fraud, fear and all forms of evil. It was fitting to honour the memory of a man who helped pave the way for such co-operation, upon which rested the future of civilisation.

Brief addresses were also given by the Mayor, Mr. J.A.C. Allum, and the chairman of the Auckland Harbour Board, Mr. H. Luke. A message from the Minister of Defence, the Hon. F. Jones, was read, in which he associated himself with tributes to Captain Musick and his men.

Memorial Plaque

The key was turned in the front door by Mr. Fraser, who as a memento of the occasion, was presented by a representative of the builders, the D.C. Street Construction Company, Limited, with a book dealing with the career of President Roosevelt.

In the entrance hall, Mr. Fraser unveiled the memorial plaque, which was covered by the New Zealand Ensign and the Stars and Stripes. The inscription reads: “This tablet, erected by the Government of New Zealand, commemorates the Samoan Clipper, lost with her crew, January 11, 1938. Captain Edwin Musick, Captain C. Sellers, P.S. Brunk, F.J. Maclean, T.D. Finley, J.W. Stickrod, J.A. Brooks.”

The official party, which included the Minister of Labour, the Hon. P.C. Webb, later inspected the centre.