John Massy Stacpoole – OBE (1932-1935)
John became a student at MAGS in 1932 when the school was a mere 10 years old. He stayed until 1935. Mt Albert prides itself today in turning out well-rounded young men and women. That tradition was established in Johns day. It was embodied in the Latin tag Mens sana in corpore sano; a sound mind in a healthy body. John embodied that ideal during his time at Mount Albert. He was a diligent student always near the top of the A class. But in the phrase of that time, he was not just a swot. He also took a full part in the life of the school. He rose to be head librarian, represented the school in middle distance running at the inter-secondary school sports, and was in the First Hockey XI. It was characteristic of John that, as soon as the Second World War ended, in which he served as an officer, he went on to the Executive of the Old Boys Association.
After qualifying as an architect at the University, and acquiring experience in architectural firms in Auckland and London, John took up his lifes work in the architectural division of the Governments Ministry of Works. Johns lifelong interest has been the history of our land , its people, and its buildings. And quickly the ministry took advantage of this enthusiasm by appointing him to supervise the restoration of historic buildings some of which were under the control of the Historic Places Trust, of which inevitably he became a significant member. Among the numerous buildings whose restoration he supervised are the Waimate Mission House, Government House in Auckland and Alberton. Two aspects of his work are particularly admired: his determination to preserve the original historical character of the building he was restoring and his diligence in assembling superb antique furniture and fittings to refurbish it. Public recognition of his work in the field of historical conservation has come in the award of the OBE, Officer of the British Empire.
Mr Stacpoole is an accomplished writer of historical books. Apart from numerous articles and bulletins, he has seven full-length books to his credit, including two biographies, books on family and social history, and New Zealands historic buildings. He is famously generous in his helpfulness to those who seek his assistance in their research; none come away empty-handed. He has written nine biographies for The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum has benefited from Johns generous gifts on the history and culture of Auckland. He has been made a Fellow of the Museum.
Johns work for the Auckland Art Gallery is a legend, particularly as a member of the Mackelvie Trust of which he was chairman for two decades. He has also acted as a benefactor towards the Auckland City Library, to whom he has donated from his private collection some hundreds of books on Irish history and life, and choice collectors items of first editions such as those of the novelist Anthony Powell.
Finally, there is a certain timeliness in this award of 2013, the year that the ASB bank has granted a 99-year lease to MAGS of the school farm. Old Boy barrister, Peter Thorp who led the negotiations on behalf of the school has paid tribute to the unique historical evidence provided by Mr Stacpoole in persuading the bank to adopt its policy of unparalleled generosity towards our school.
John Massy Stacpoole, heritage architect, soldier, historian, writer, philanthropist, Albertian, Member of the Mount Albert Grammar School Hall of Distinction.