John and Emily Fairburn
It is my birthday today, PRAISE THE LORD. Today is Sunday, March 17th. May I remind each of you that there are three accounts of Paul's conversion in the Bible and even more.
William Thomas Fairburn, missionary, married Sarah Tuckwell. They had a son John on 18th October 1824. John died on 21st April 1893 at Otahuhu and was buried in the Holy Trinity cemetery, Otahuhu. He married Emily Reynolds. Soon after this marriage in England John led this English bride to the family home, Glengrove at Otahuhu. I am one of their descendants. Emily was a great, great, great niece of Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Glengrove was an unpretentious house built on the lines of the Treaty House at Waitangi, and sited on a rise overlooking the Manakau Harbour. It was one of the first houses built in the district. During the 1880s the house was extended on the south side by the addition of rooms for music, school classes and emergency hospital care. In later years, the old house was known as the Clevedon Country Club and was eventually destroyed in a disastrous fire. In 1876, John sold part of his land for the Otahuhu Public School for £130.
He with Mr Grigg (owner of Longreach Station, model farm in South Canterbury) also gave the site in Mason Avenue on which the Holy Trinity Church stands. The church was dedicated in 1863 by Bishop Selwyn and Bishop Patterson of Melanesia. John was a Justice of the Peace and was at one time acting magistrate for the South Auckland district.
Emily was known as a woman of great humanity and tenderness of heart and a tireless worker for the sick and needy. In her later years she cared for the aging army veterans, the old Fencibles, until her death aged 45 in 1873. The following are extracts, abbreviated by me, from a memoir written by Loretta Maud Skelton my aunt.
"Acute sensibility, stamina, strict disciplinary training of earlier years, John and Emily shouldered heavy responsibility bringing out the best in people in the young Colony. Reading aloud at length resulted in the children's conversation being lucid and agreeable. John was responsible for many a Maori mastery of the language, musical appreciation and practice a solace of the family."
"Devotion by the Maoris felt for the family. John (the son of missionary William Thomas Fairburn) kept close touch with the tribes. Earnest missionary work of many years was undermined by spurious influence and the chiefs grew senseful of changes settlement might bring. "
"Glengrove was an open house. John inspired confidence, a man of original ideas and sound propositions, his humaneness widely felt. "
In the true sense of the word, a successful man, God willing. This is a family tree, come climb it with me. There was a short man named Zacchaeus. He climbed a tree, and Jesus said to him, "This very day I will dine at your house." - Luke 19.
May I add this strange occurrence. My father had lived in Howick and shortly before he died was in a hospital there and I went to visit him accompanied by my son and my father's wife. As we together went through the hospital entrance, I spoke in the English language just like a Maori.