Poet gets new plot on a hill

A man celebrated as one of the country's most influential early poets was yesterday disinterred from his grave and reburied to make way for the widening of a motorway in north Auckland.

Arthur Rex Dugard Fairburn, known simply as A R D Fairburn, now rests on an embankment overlooking Albany Stadium. His family are pleased, saying while he was a man of letters he was also a sportsman and sports fan.

Writer, C K Stead, was a student when Fairburn was in his prime and remembers an articulate poet who could swim to the city from his home in Devonport. "He was a very fluent natural poet. And an interesting essayist, and also quite a controversial figure who liked to make very challenging statements about this and that," said Stead.

The body of the poet and his mother were disinterred from their graves when changes to the Albany Highway cut into the Albany Village Cemetery. The family were initially outraged that the highway was to finish within 2 metres of the original burial site, which was not to be moved.

However, Auckland Transport arranged and paid for the reburial in a new location.

"We are quite happy now. It is a very nice part of the cemetery they are being moved to. It is under a tree and on a nice embankment. You can even see the top of the Albany Stadium which would make Rex very happy because he was very fond of rugby," said Fairburn's daughter Dinah Holman. "He was a lot of fun and had a huge number of interests. He was a day dreamer, he didn't seem to know a clock existed."

Three of Fairburn's poems were read as a blessing at the new grave.

Sunday Star Times