Former pupils go back to high school
It began as a 70th birthday party reunion between two old school friends and grew to include all their classmates from 56 years ago.
Rosemarie Knapman-Smith and Lyn Humphreys were born within days of each other. Later they became classmates at Opunake High School 3A third form class. When their respective 70th birthdays appeared on the horizon they decided to organise a celebration.
But soon they were involving as many of their 3A classmates as they could contact, as well as others from third form commerce and agricultural classes who attended the high school in 1961.
Up to 52 former 3A pupils and partners were tracked down and invited to a reunion dinner on Saturday night at The Plymouth Hotel, followed up by lunch at Opunake High School on Sunday.
There was also time for a visit back to the school, a meeting with current principal Simon Fuller, a walk down the Coastal Walkway, and a visit to Everybody’s Theatre.
Memories of school days were fired back and forth among the old classroom friends throughout the weekend.
Many came from outside the region - from Wellington, Auckland, Melbourne, Christchurch, Tauranga and Hawke’s Bay. Some, like Robyn and Dennis Chard, were classmates who later married and lived in Opunake.
Others, including Oakura artist Margaret Scott, former Taranaki
‘‘We were a hard case lot who lived on the beach in summer.’’
Newspapers general manager Kevin Nielsen, and Dairy Board USA representative Michael Bingham, pursued careers further afield.
‘‘We’re all either 69 or 70 years old and we all lived on the coast from Pungarehu to Rahotu and Opunake and Oaonui,’’ KnapmanSmith said.
‘‘We were a hard case lot who lived on the beach in summer. We just seemed to have a such a free life, we grew up in an amazing village atmosphere and could wander anywhere around the town and our parents wouldn’t worry.’’
Entertainment was Saturday morning movies at Everybody’s Theatre for nine pence a ticket, throwing jaffas down the aisles, or down at Opunake Beach in summer, she said.
Opunake High School will celebrate it centenary in 2025 but the 3A class of 1961 hoped to meet again before that, she said.
Former Opunake High School third form classmates from 1961 went back to school for a reunion at the weekend.