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Felicity Mary Saxby (1932 - 2007)

Felicity Saxby

Felicity Saxby was born on June 3, 1932 in Scotland at her grandmother’s country house Kingston, in North Berwick, about 20 kilometres south-east of Edinburgh.

She and husband Dr John Saxby immigrated to New Zealand from Britain in 1966 with the four children Fritha, Felix (Ned), Halcyon and Blithe. They lived in Te Mawhai in a distinctive two-storey Mediterranean- style villa designed by Dr Saxby.

Mrs Saxby moved into Te Awamutu town in 2000. She was renowned as a social worker and folk musician. Her passion for social justice led to her being a high profile protester during the 1981 Springbok Tour. As a social worker Mrs Saxby pioneered psychodrama at Tokanui Hospital’s Kia Tukua Unit (formerly B Ward) in the 1980s to help people with social or psychological problems. She worked closely with her husband, psychiatrist the late Dr John Saxby, who was medical superintendent at Tokanui Hospital and the founder of B Ward. After Tokanui Hospital closed she continued psychological counselling privately.

Mrs Saxby helped found the All and Some Folk Club in the late 1960s and she became a songwriter and a regular performer at folk festivals around the country, playing guitar and singing with daughters Fritha and Blithe. She was as an early influence on Crowded House founder Neil Finn, and the two have remained friends.

The Saxby’s Te Mawhai home became a hub for protesters during the 1981 Springbok Tour. She was in the front-line of the field invasion that stopped the Waikato game in the 1981 Springbok Tour and features prominently in television coverage in one of the defining moments of New Zealand’s recent history. She was battered and bruised by angry rugby fans.

Felicity Saxby died at home after a short illness in 2007, aged 75. She is survived by Ned, Halcyon and Blithe and by grandchildren Esala, Barnaby, Finbar, Solomon, Maisie and Ella.

This obituary is reprinted by permission from the Te Awamutu Courier, 26th June 2007 (PDF file).