Rotorua Weekender

52 years on, the Class of 70 toast the future

Vineyard sojourn a wonderful way to celebrate lives well-lived

- Roimata Mihinui Kāhu ki Rotorua

Ihave just had one of the greatest long weekends of my life — and I thought I was beyond being amazed. It started early last Friday morning and wound up back home at 6pm on Monday.

Non-drinker me spent that time in a beautiful Martinboro­ugh vineyard, under clear skies and with views towards the Tararua Ranges.

The setting was ideal, quirky corrugated metal chalets dotted in the family-owned Margrain Vineyard.

But it was the people who made this weekend unforgetta­ble.

In 1970 we were students of the Wellington Polytechni­c News Journalism course. There were 40 of us chosen by Christine Cole, later Cole Catley. About 30 of us turned up at Martinboro­ugh.

We were due to celebrate our silver jubilee in 2020, but that was put off for two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Wellington organising subcommitt­ee, which includes Australiad­omiciled Denise Eriksen, held meetings along the Kāpiti Coast and was determined the reunion would go ahead.

They put their heads together and pulled out the big guns.

Television frontman Kevin Milne found me and so the journey began.

We started sharing posts on a specifical­ly set-up Whatsapp page and I was adopted as a member of the Taranaki whanau.

I thought that was apt because while at polytech I had spent a week as an intern at the Taranaki Daily News and stayed with Graham Skellern’s family.

Skelly is the only member of my course with whom I had had contact since 1970, mostly because we both worked at the New Zealand Herald.

The Matapihi resident and a key reunion organiser was so determined I would be there he picked me up and drove me.

The pick-up was at 6am and we collected David Boddy from his brother’s house in Taupo an hour later. I hadn’t seen David for 52 years and had never met his family, but I felt immediatel­y at home with them.

The Whatsapp page had at least broken the ice and I have come to enjoy the messages.

Some people are much more active on it than the rest of us. I hadn’t seen these people for 50+ years but the quips and rapid repartee, particular­ly from Julian O’brien and Brian Thomas (Tommy), had me smiling and outright chuckling.

And it was no different in person. They were still trading good-natured insults and cracking jokes.

I enjoyed meeting Tommy’s family, wife Kari, their son Ray and his partner Romi and their pre-schooler Rex.

My roommate for the weekend was Pam Fleming who works with families and produces E Tu Whanau magazine. I had coffee with Pam about 18 months ago in Rotorua.

She and my brother had worked together for years without knowing they had me in common.

Catching up with the class could have been awkward but it was easy.

When having an informal debrief we thought it was because when we went to Wellington most of us had just come from high school and had never left home before.

There were a couple of older students including Mike Quaife who couldn’t be with us at the reunion because of recent surgery but sent cases of wine from his Naked Lady vineyard.

That wine was delivered by Judy and Chris Bailey who left the reunion early to visit family.

I discovered that most of us had worked in the media and I think I was the only one who had never worked overseas.

Everyone wanted to quiz David Boddy about his experience­s as press secretary to the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

He was with “Mrs T” for seven years. David will mark 50 years in the UK in February. He is safely back in the UK after leaving Wellington on Monday morning.

Over the weekend we had organ

 ?? ?? The 1970 Poly Boomers at Margrain Vineyard in Martinboro­ugh.
The 1970 Poly Boomers at Margrain Vineyard in Martinboro­ugh.
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