John Massy Stacpoole OBE (30 September 1919 – 5 September 2018) was a foundation trustee of the Auckland Libraries Heritage Trust in 1991. He was a New Zealand heritage architect, historian and bibliophile who was responsible for the preservation and restoration of many historic buildings in Auckland and Northland.
He wrote about colonial architecture and social history in New Zealand and nurtured an interest in our built heritage. The hours John spent researching and advocating for heritage buildings and landscapes at local Council planning committees would have accounted for years of his long life. He was proud of and deeply interested in Irish cultural heritage (John’s father, Percy Stacpoole, was of Irish descent), and gathered a valuable collection of Irish literature, which amounted to almost 1,000 books. Always generous with his time, his friendship and his knowledge, John donated his collection of Irish literature to Auckland Libraries in 2005.
John was born in Mt Albert and educated at Mt Albert Grammar School before studying architecture at Auckland University College. At MAGS he became head librarian, a member of the First Hockey Xl, and represented the school in middle distance running. After serving in World War ll, John worked in architectural practices in London and Auckland. He joined the architectural division of the Ministry of Works in 1963 and in 1965 became advisory architect to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. He served on the NZHPT Council and chaired its Buildings Classification Committee. He was closely involved as architect in the restoration and furnishing of numerous listed historic buildings, including Ewelme Cottage, Alberton, and Government House in Auckland, and Waimate North Mission House and the Kemp House in Northland. For decades, John Stacpoole was the go-to person for practical and sage advice on historic buildings. He chaired the Mackelvie Trust at Auckland City Art Gallery in 1974 and had a long interest in the gallery.
In 1975 John Stacpoole was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to the preservation of historic buildings. In 2004 he was elected a life member of the NZ Historic Places Trust. He was a Fellow of the Auckland War Memorial Museum and in 2013 his old school inducted him into the Mt Albert Grammar School hall of distinction. In 1979 John listed his recreational activities as ‘furnishing historic houses, enjoying books, paintings, friends and trees’. John never married but he left behind many friends and fellow students of heritage and art who admired his expertise and enjoyed his urbane, humorous and generous approach to life. He died in Auckland a few weeks short of his 99th birthday.