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John Massy Stacpoole 1920 - 2018

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Remuera Heritage was very sad to hear of the death of John Stacpoole on September 5th 2018. John was a past resident of Remuera, a friend to Remuera Heritage and a gentleman and a scholar. He was New Zealand's first heritage architect. His 1976 book Colonial architecture in New Zealand was the first to piece together the story of New Zealand’s notable buildings and their architects. Remuera Heritage recently completed an oral history with him on social life in Auckland between the two wars.  

Heritage New Zealand have a detailed tribute to John in Heritage This Month - October 2018: John Stacpoole remembered :-

 Heritage New Zealand was saddened to hear of the passing of John Stacpoole last month at 98 years of age. In 1965 John began his association with the then New Zealand Historic Places Trust – the forerunner of Heritage New Zealand – when he became the Ministry of Works advisory architect to the Trust. His first heritage project for the Trust was the restoration of the Mission House at Waimate North. Over the years he also worked on the refurbishment of Pompallier Mission at Russell, Kemp House at Kerikeri, Clendon House at Rawene and the Mangungu Mission House at Horeke in the Hokianga. 

In addition to providing architectural advice, he also wrote the guides and brochures for most of these properties. Besides having a close interest in the Bay of Islands properties, John supervised a number of restoration projects in Auckland including Ewelme Cottage in Parnell, Alberton in Mt Albert and the Melanesian Mission at Mission Bay. He was also involved with Lyttelton’s Timeball, Old St Paul’s, Highwic and the DOC-managed Mansion House on Kawau Island.  

In the early 1970s, John was appointed to the NZHPT Board, and in this capacity often contested development projects affecting historic sites – including a proposed development in Russell that would have been built next to Pompallier Mission had it been allowed to continue. He also served as the Deputy Chairman of the Trust between 1974 and 1978. Besides his commitment to the work of the NZHPT, John’s broader historical knowledge was frequently of great value, and he was the author of 12 books. It was he who found the original printing press used by Russell-based Bishop Pompallier to print religious literature in Maori. The press was in the possession of the Maori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu. After correspondence from John – and a personal audience – she agreed to release it into the care of the NZHPT, and has sat in pride of place at Pompallier Mission ever since. As well as being a heritage architect and historian of note, John was also a philanthropist and bibliophile who gifted his collection of rare Irish literature to Auckland Library. He also gave numerous presentations including 10 on Colonial Auckland in conjunction with Una Platts, and many at the School of Architecture. John served on numerous committees including Auckland Library Heritage Trust, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland Museum Library and Kinder House, and was a member of the Landmarks group which generously donated $1 million to the upgrade of the Timeball, as well as funds to help with the maintenance of Mansion House and other outlets. 

In 1975, John was appointed an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours, and was elected by the Board to Endowment Life Membership of the Trust in 1980, and to Honorary Life Membership in 2004.