WW1 John Thomson (Tom) Macky

John Thomson Macky, 1913 (AUCSA Executive. Special Collections University of Auckland Libraries & Learning Services)

YMCA, London Headquarters, Staff in Gower St. (Buckshee Magazine, 18, NZGC 940,4773, B92. Special Collections University of Auckland Libraries & Learning Services)

John Thomson (Tom) Macky, known as Tom, was born in Auckland in 1890. He was the son of Isabella Marion Macky (Thomson) and John Macky, an accountant with the Auckland Board of Education. They had three sons and a daughter, living at Gillies Avenue, Epsom.

Tom’s grandfather was the Reverend John Macky, who had arrived in New Zealand from Ireland in 1854 becoming a prominent New Zealand Presbyterian Minister, establishing a ministry in Otahuhu. [1, 2; 3]

Tom attended Auckland Grammar School and was awarded a scholarship to attend Auckland University College (now the University of Auckland) in 1910 to study engineering. Whilst there, he was President of the Students’ Association in 1913. [4, 5]

Like his grandfather, the Reverend John Macky, Tom wanted to become a Minister and in 1913 as a student he preached at Somervell Memorial Presbyterian Church in Remuera. [6]. Tom attended Knox College in Dunedin from 1914 to 1916. In June 1916, he was Licensed as a Minister by the Auckland Presbytery and he volunteered to serve with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) during the First World War as a YMCA Field Secretary.[7]

Tom was based, at the YMCA in London. The YMCA provided a welcoming, homely base, providing affordable accommodation, and meals for soldiers on leave, as well as information and activities available in London, to steer young men away from the temptations of London streets.

Tom was especially active in the Brotherhood of Men of Goodwill, a group founded within the YMCA that focused on a ‘more direct religious message’ holding regular bible classes and debates to actively enlist servicemen. The New Zealand YMCA also had a presence on troopships, in training camps, and on the front lines. [8]

Tom married Olive Jessie Gruar (1890 – 1979) in 1920. In the same year, Tom was ordained a Minister and assisted in St Luke’s Presbyterian Church Remuera until 1922 when he was transferred to Knox Church in Dannevirke. In 1933, he was transferred to Knox Presbyterian Church, Lower Hutt, where he served until his death in 1946. [9]

Tom and Olive had one son (John Gruar Macky (1921-1966)) and three daughters. (Isabel Bertha Stanton (Macky) (1924-2013), Olive Margery Macky (1928 -), Janet Christina Somerville (Macky) (1930-1988)).

During World War II, Tom was Chaplain Class II (Lieutenant-Colonel), in the New Zealand Chaplains’ Department with the New Zealand Military Forces. [10]

Throughout his ministry, Tom, was Involved in Presbyterian church affairs and was Convenor of the Public Questions Committee of the New Zealand Presbyterian Church for ten years. He also served on the Alcohol Regulations Committee and as a Convenor of the Presbyterian Chaplains’ Committee. [11, 12, 13]

In 1941, the National Council of Churches (NCC) founded the Inter-Church Council on Public Affairs (ICCPA), a ‘body through which the churches [could] consult together for the purpose of initiating common action in matters of social and moral importance’. Much of the early influence of the ICCPA was attributed to Tom, who was also its first Chairman. The Council valued his ‘clear thinking’ and ‘wide vision’, and his ‘statesmanlike approach’ was invaluable in the Council’s dealings with cabinet ministers and other government representatives. [13, 14]

Tom is buried in Karori Cemetery, Wellington and is remembered on St Luke’s Presbyterian Church Roll of Honour, Remuera Rd, Remuera. [15, 16]

G Ralph
June 2020