School legacy lives on

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By ROSE CAW­LEY

SARAH Poul­ter is only 13 years old but her ed­u­ca­tion is al­ready steeped in his­tory.

Seven gen­er­a­tions of women from her fam­ily have at­tended St Mary’s Col­lege in Pon­sonby which is now cel­e­brat­ing its 150th an­niver­sary.

So there was never any doubt about where Sarah would go.

Her ances­tor John Fair ar­rived in New Zealand in 1840 with his daugh­ter, Mary Fair, from his first mar­riage and his sec­ond wife, Mary Fog­a­rty Fair.

Their new life got off to a shaky start when they were ship­wrecked at Kaipara Har­bour but the fam­ily soon started to grow once they got set­tled in.

The Fairs made a sim­ple school­ing decision for their youngest girls. Sarah’s an­ces­tors played in the school grounds back when it was run out of St Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral – be­fore the Catholic school moved to Pon­sonby where it has stood for the last 150 years.

Mary Fair’s chil­dren were the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion from the fam­ily to at­tend the school, ce­ment­ing the tra­di­tion.

Sarah stum­bled upon a photo of her great-grand­mother Rona Kelly at St Mary’s while help­ing her grand­mother dig­i­talise old fam­ily pho­tos

She and some friends de­cided to recre­ate that im­age 92 years later.

‘‘It was just such an artis­tic op­por­tu­nity, we couldn’t not do it.’’

The Re­muera teen never doubted she would at­tend St Mary’s.

‘‘It is quite cool re­ally to know that so many of your fam­ily mem­bers have come to the same place and that you are car­ry­ing it on.’’

Sarah and her great-grand­mother also share an aca­demic bond.

‘‘We found some badges of hers. She got first in form two and I ac­tu­ally got first in year 7 which would have been form one.’’

Sarah’s mother Cather­ine grew up hear­ing bits of fam­ily his­tory.

‘‘She’d hear the sis­ters telling her sto­ries about her great-aunts but they wouldn’t re­ally reg­is­ter.

‘‘It is not un­til you get older that you think this stuff is fas­ci­nat­ing,’’ Cather­ine says.

The St Mary’s Col­lege 150 Year Cel­e­bra­tions are be­ing held on Septem­ber 20 and 21.

Go to to buy a ticket for the cock­tail party or af­ter­noon tea and to reg­is­ter for the cel­e­bra­tory mass.

A ticket is not needed to at­tend the mass at St Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral at 2pm on Septem­ber 21.


Dou­ble take: Sarah Poul­ter, 13, and her friends recre­ate the photo of her great­grand­mother Rona Kelly.

Last­ing legacy: Cather­ine Poul­ter’s daugh­ter Sarah, 13, is thought to be the sev­enth gen­er­a­tion to at­tend St Mary’s Col­lege in Pon­sonby. Look­ing back: A photo of Sarah Poul­ter’s great-grand­mother Rona Kelly, left, with her friends at St Mary’s Col­lege in 1922.

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