19 July 2023


On 1 July 2023, Judge Arnold Turner, CMG, passed away at the age of 96.

Judge Turner had a long association with Laidlaw College since he was led, as a young man, to personal faith in Christ through Andrew Johnston, the blind evangelist of the NZ Bible Training Institute.

He followed a path into law and spent 20 years in legal practice in Auckland, specialising in administrative law and town planning. He was also involved in local body politics, serving three terms as a Mt Albert borough councillor, including six years as Deputy Mayor. In 1965 he was elected the inaugural chair of the Auckland Regional Authority’s planning and reserves committee. Under his leadership the ARA acquired land under threat of urban development to become regional reserves accessible to all Aucklanders – sites such as Wenderholm, Long Bay, and the Botanical Gardens. In 1970 he became a stipendiary magistrate and was appointed Chairman of the No.1 Town & Country Planning Appeal Board (which later became the Planning Tribunal) of which he became Principal Planning Judge. In 1984 he was awarded the honour of CMG (Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George) in the New Year’s Honours list for services to local government and the community.

In 1986 he took early retirement in order to serve as President of the Bible College of New Zealand for the following 10 years. Previously, he had served as a member of the Henderson Residential Board and the National Board of the College – including chairing both Boards for a number of years.

As President, he led the College board through its search for a new Principal, with Dr John Hitchen appointed as National Principal, the first New Zealander and graduate of the College to the role. In 1990, Judge Turner and Dr Hitchen made successful submissions to a Parliamentary Select Committee to remove the ban in the Education Act on Government funding to non-State-run educational institutions. This opened the way for Government funding to be available to Bible and Theological colleges from 1991.

Judge Turner and Dr Hitchen also participated in a number of overnight hui on Marae over a period of 15 months with Māori Christian leaders – the result of which was the establishment of both Te Runanga O Te Kareti Paipera O Aotearoa in 1991 – a Māori Council and advisory board – and a Māori department of the College in 1992.

In 1986, Judge Turner helped establish, and became the first Chair, of the Laidlaw College Foundation, with a goal of growing an endowment fund to provide income for Laidlaw College for generations to come. We are delighted that his descendants continue to be connected to the College, including a grandson who serves on staff.

Arnold was married to Marjorie for 73 years before her death in April 2023. The couple had been actively involved in Mt Albert Baptist Church all of their married life – the church Marjorie had attended since age four.

We are so grateful for the fruit borne out of the countless hours Judge Turner voluntarily poured into the College over a 26-year period. His forward-thinking, wise judgment, and sharp mind were deeply appreciated. We thank God for Arnold’s long life of service.