Maurice Carter leaves behind immense legacy

Maurice Carter, who became a leading Christchurch builder, property developer, local government politician and philanthropist, died yesterday. He was 93.

The quiet, modest Carter has been described as "a city father" and his family as "a political dynasty".

As founder and head of the Carter Group, he built hundreds of houses in the 1950s and 60s, many of them in Bryndwr and Burnside.

His ethic of hard work and perfectionism was so evident in his buildings that real estate firms still use the label "Maurice Carter home" as a recommendation in their advertising.

Carter was a city councillor from 1956 to 1989 and deputy mayor for the last six of those years. He was then a Canterbury regional councillor for six years, having sat also on the former Christchurch Drainage Board, Regional Planning Authority and Canterbury United Council.

Son Philip and grandson Tim have followed him on to the city council. Another son, David, is Minister of Agriculture.

Born in Bradford, Yorkshire, Carter did a carpentry apprenticeship before coming to New Zealand in 1938.

He enlisted for service in World War II but was "manpowered" to work on army buildings at Burnham and Weedons, near Christchurch.

He married Merle Cunningham in 1942 and they had five children.

Carter launched his company in 1946 and it became a leading construction firm during the post-war housing boom.

His company later branched out into property development and hotel management. He continued to guide the company well into his 80s.

Carter and his wife established the Maurice R Carter Charitable Trust, into which they vested a block of shops they owned in Bryndwr. The trust makes annual grants to charitable causes.

The Carters also supported educational, nursing, cultural and church organisations. Merle Carter died in 2008.

The Press