John Mackie was one of a group of experienced lecturers who used their wisdom to educate students in the ways of the world. He was known as Captain Jack due to his military bearing, but his sense of humour gave him the ability to relate easily to students. John Mackie's experience in geology and then as an Inspector of Mines in Malaya was followed by his wartime experience and three terrible years in the infamous Changi and Batu Lintang prison camps. When he returned to New Zealand his main task in the 1950s was teaching land and mine surveying in Otago. Continuing his interest in surveying he obtained support to begin teaching surveyors at Otago in 1963, which became the four-year degree course in 1974. The National School of Surveying is a tribute to the vision and hard work of John Mackie and his early staff, and his successors in the Chair of Surveying.