Since our acquisition of Sea Breezes in 2008, one of the strengths of this magazine, which I first read as a young lad going to sea in 1960, has been its quality of content.
Nowhere has this been more evident than in our highly respected and popular series; ‘Ships we forgot to Remember’, alternately written by Andrew Bell (England) and Murray Robinson (New Zealand). Over some time now, I was well aware that Murray was very ill, but he battled on writing his articles right until his copy for the June 2018 issue of Sea Breezes.
On 29 April 2018, Murray passed away in New Zealand. Until the very end, Murray kept in touch with us and had a huge commitment to his articles and paintings which so complemented his writing. Over the years, Steve Robinson, our Editorial Manager and I, swapped many emails with Murray and thought of him as a good and constant friend to Sea Breezes. To me, he had the greatest respect for the maritime heritage of his country, New Zealand, and his many fine articles will, I hope, be kept as an important record of many of New Zealand’s most famous ships and of its strong maritime heritage.
I am sure that, like me, many of our readers across the world will greatly miss Murray’s articles and join the Sea Breezes team in sending our condolences to Murray’s wife, Louise and their family and friends. He will be greatly missed. A tribute to Murray by Andrew Bell follows;
For someone who had never worked in the shipping industry, Murray Robinson had a unique knowledge of ships and the ship-owners whose requirements shaped them. The origins of this interest probably sprang from his boyhood spent on the shores of Wellington Harbour and the encouragement of his godfather, Gordon Robertson, then a rising star in Union Steamship of New Zealand’s sea staff.
Murray’s history degrees earned at the Victoria University of Wellington, from which he graduated aged 24 in 1979, trained him to look beyond statistics and opinion for the background story. He was an assiduous researcher and a balanced assessor, a combination that often produced an untold story with an out-of-the-ordinary conclusion. For a career, he had hoped to serve in the Royal New Zealand Navy, but had to satisfy his defence interests with 24 active years in the Royal New Zealand Army’s reserve in parallel with that of a career as a civil servant.
Not only was Murray an historian, but also a draughtsman who produced a large collection of exquisite profile drawings of merchant ships. This collection will become Murray’s enduring monument and, because it has been kept together, it has yet to be exhibited and widely appreciated. Some of these pictures have illustrated two books we co-authored and published by Ships in Focus in recent years.
Murray espoused the cause that Captain Robertson’s reputation as a seaman and capable ship-handler had been unfairly doubted and had not contributed to the loss of the Union Line’s flagship Wahine in 1967.
Murray married Louise in 1993 who has developed a prominent career in trade union administration. They established their home at Raumati Beach on the Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington where their two daughters Demelza and Eden grew up and flourished. It was from there that Murray sailed to another shore in a greater light on 29 April.