Barrie Williams Dies

One of the last photos of Barry Williams
One of the last photos of Barry Williams

Paekakariki loses one of its favourite sons

By Alan Tristram

Barry Williams, one of Paekakariki’s elder statesmen and a revered character, has died after a long illness.

He will be remembered — among many other things — for his leadership during the severe flooding in Paekakariki in 2003.

His funeral will be held next Tuesday, January 21, at 2pm in St Peter’s Village Hall.


 Barry, who was 82, died at the Mary Potter Hospice in Wellington on Wednesday.

The Williams family

He is survived by his wife Maureen, a well-known author and political campaigner, his son Gwyn and daughters Frith and Meg, and four grandchildren.

Barry Williams was born in Palmerston North in 1932. Later he went to Nelson College as a boarder; then went to Canterbury University.

About this time he boarded with artist Toss Woollaston and his wife Edith (he became a close friend of their son Philip Woollaston).

During his academic life, Barry Williams first became an adult education tutor, travelling to the West Coast of the South Island from a base in Christchurch. His special area of expertise was music,

Then in 1965 he took up a post as an Adult Education lecturer at Canterbury University. And two years later he married  Maureen, daughter of two well-known Communist campaigners in Wellington, Connie and ‘Birchie’ Birchfield.

In 1973, the Williams  moved to Palmerston North, where Barry became Director of University Extension at Massey University; and later Director of Music.

A painstaking scholar and writer, he wrote several books, including a history of adult education, ‘Structures and Attitudes in NZ Adult Education 1945-75,’ and also wrote widely for other publications.

Political campaigner

As a man of principle, Barry Williams campaigned long and hard for things he believed in — the anti-apartheid cause, opposition to US intervention in Vietnam and Iraq; and the anti-nuclear movement.

After moving permanently to Paekakariki in 1989, Barry took a full part in village life.

Barry (right) listening to Xpress editor Don Polly, with friends John Porter (left rear) and Robin Fordham
Barry (right) listening to Xpress editor Don Polly, with friends John Porter (left rear) and Robin Fordham

He served as chair of the Paekakariki Community Board for several years and was later chair of the Paekakariki Station Precinct Trust — and he was a founder member of the group producing the famed Paekakariki Xpressed newspaper.

He was a valued member of Friends of the Kapiti Coast Libraries for many years; and he co-founded a group known as the ‘Left Overs’ after the collapse on the Alliance Party.

The Prostate Squadron

In recent years too, he achieved some notoriety as a founding airman (with Don Polly, Michael Secker, Anthony Dreaver and the author) of the ‘Prostate Squadron.’

This was founded so older men could meet to discuss political issues,  share experiences, and  help each other cope with the rigours of over-exertion on the Home Front.

He held the honorary rank of Flight Sergeant for many years, but was being considered for higher things by the Wing Commander when he passed away.

In 2004, Barry received a Kapiti Coast Civic Award for his work as Community Board chair during the Paekakariki floods the year before.

He was one person of whom it can  be said:”He had no enemies.’