David Martin was born in the UK and moved to NZ in 1960.
Dave joined MOTAT as a volunteer in the Rail Section in 1969 and became increasingly involved in the activities of the section. At the time Rail was undergoing rapid expansion with track laying and artefact acquisitions in the gulley behind the pump house at MOTAT 1. A rail yard was being formed, the Waitakere station building was to arrive, the Railway workshop was to be constructed and in 1975 the signal box then located on the upper level had to be relocated to make way for MOTAT’s largest acquisition, steam locomotive K900. Dave was heavily involved in all these activities and became the Section Head for 2 years until in 1980 when, because of business requirements, he moved to Tauranga.
Dave returned to Auckland in 1982 and became involved with the relocation of equipment to the “Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield” site at Meola Rd (MOTAT 2) where a Rail Compound had been set up. The recovery of track materials from NZ Railway locations near and far around Auckland, and the installation of tracks for the Western Springs Railway was ongoing. At this time the Rail Section was very fortunate to have the assistance of a Work Party every Saturday from the Periodic Detention Centre, and Dave was one of three or four volunteers from the Rail section that were prepared to spend time over many years providing and supervising work for the Work Parties which also included the erection of several of the storage buildings. Dave was very dedicated and particularly enjoyed building track using the second-hand track materials available from the track recovery sorties and working with the Work Parties.
In 2004, following the opening of the carriage workshop Dave was appointed Rail Section Manager/Curator, a position he held for 2 years until his wife’s health forced him, regrettably, to relinquish the position. However, he carried on as a volunteer until he moved to Waiuku and eventually to Queensland, Australia in 2010.
For most of his time at MOTAT Dave was particularly interested in the diminutive 1913 Oberursel, a unique petrol driven locomotive of which there is only one other operating in original condition in the world. He formed a friendship with an Oberursel historian in Germany who was able to supply him with valuable details of MOTAT’s locomotive and Dave provided the Walsh Memorial Library with a detailed article on the locomotive’s interesting history. Even after moving to Australia he retained a strong tie with MOTAT and kept a very close interest on the Rail Team’s activities and in particular on the progress being made on the locomotive’s restoration. It became a lifelong ambition to see the Oberursel actually restored and running again. Thanks to Dave's persistence restoration work is now well advanced.
Dave was a hard worker and over the years gave many thousands of hours of his time as a volunteer to MOTAT. He was a great team member who was good to work with and had a subtle sense of humour. As a fellow volunteer and a good friend for 50 years he will be sadly missed.
Dave died in Australia, after a long illness, on 10 May 2021.
-By Richard Croker