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A long and eventful career which involved travelling all over the world eventually led Arthur Bowkett to a quiet life in New Plymouth, where he worships at Taranaki Cathedral and enjoys “counting my blessings.”
Arthur is nearly 92. He was born in 1923 in Preston, England; his parents were among the pioneers of the Pentecostal movement, which they had joined in 1906.
Throughout the war Arthur served in the Royal Marines, then he sailed in the merchant navy before moving to New Zealand in 1950.
In New Plymouth he became second chef at the Imperial Hotel, but stayed only three months – “the ovens were on the blink, so I was not happy with it.” He worked piling houses, then after a spell on the wharves in Wellington he was a steward and cook on the Lyttleton ferries and on ships sailing to and from Australia.
Back in New Plymouth he worked at laying lino and floor coverings, and commercial cleaning.
For about 40 years Arthur attended the Assembly of God church in the city, where he was on the finance committee, cleaned the windows, and filled and emptied the baptismal tank.
“I was very sorry to leave, but it became too noisy for me, with loud choruses and a band crashing and banging, and it's a long way to go from where I live.”
About four years ago he made the move to St Mary's. There he knew that one was not expected to get up and start “speaking in tongues”, but during one service in the chapel it happened: “I started speaking in tongues – it just came out, and flowed out!”
Arthur's wife Ann died two years ago. He has one son in New Plymouth and three daughters who live in Ōākura, New Plymouth and Perth, Australia.
His son Stephen is a cabinetmaker, and made the cathedra, or bishop's chair for St Mary's when it became a cathedral in 2010.