School legacy lives on
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 stmaryak.school.nz 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.