The 60th anniversary reunion of Ōtaki College drew well in excess of 300 former students and staff on the two days of April 26-27.
Falling a week after Easter and only a day after Anzac Day, many former associates of the college from out of town and overseas took the opportunity to visit for several days. They met up with family and friends – and even fellow military personnel at the dawn service and RSA on Anzac Day – but it was the reunion that was the highlight for many.
For some, such as Sandy Smith, it was the first time back to Ōtaki for decades. Much has changed in and around the town, but what has been a constant has been the friendships and mateships forged when all of us went to school together.
Smiles led to hugs as recognition was confirmed, sometimes only after a glance at a name tag. Memories came back, and anecdotes of what we all got up to were compared, occasionally embellished for effect. Teachers’ names were to the fore – those liked and those loathed (no doubt in reverse for the staff who also attended).
It’s clear that much has changed at the college. It’s hard to believe that up until the mid 1970s, for example, the cane was still in liberal use by some teachers.
Although most of us still feel proud of our old school, pride was not a key part of what it was about then. Students tended to be manufactured through the system, considered good academically or with their hands, fit for home-making, or just “good for nothing”. We were more of a commodity than an individual.
That has certainly changed.
It will be interesting to hear what students of today say about the school in another 60 years.
Students in the first classes at college in 1959 and 1960 lead a parade from The Domain along the college driveway.
Damien Doyle is Ōtaki College’s 2019 sportsperson of the year. At the college’s sports prize-giving ceremony on October 24, Damien received the accolade and a financial award from local company Marlan Trading. Damien is a top performer in swimming and surf lifesaving, winning a gold and four silver medals at national level in swimming and... Keep Reading
Young Ōtaki College actor Parekawa Finlay is off to the Globe Theatre in London thanks to the generosity of the XŌtaki College Alumni Trust. The trust came up with the $9000 required after hearing of Pare’s selection to attend the theatre made famous by bard William Shakespeare. “We knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so the... Keep Reading
Brian Van was rewarded for his academic efforts by being announced as dux in the 2019 Ōtaki College senior prize-giving awards on October 31. Brian will be studying for a bachelor of engineering with honours at Wellington’s Victoria University next year. His list of first-in-class in 2019 included calculus, chemistry, physics and statistics.... Keep Reading
Ōtaki College’s junior netball team finished the season unbeaten in pool games, comfortably winning the Kāpiti colleges competition. In the competition final on September 28, the girls played Kapanui Magic and won 28-9 at Te Ati Awa Park, completing the eight-game regular season unbeaten. Kapanui, however, had delivered Ōtaki its only loss... Keep Reading
The launch of the Lifting the Lid youth suicide project has raised $10,000. A lunch at Southwards Car Museum on Friday, October 4, raised the cash after a garden shed donated by Ōtaki College, artwork, a Hurricanes rugby shirt, an own-label gin prize and other items were auctioned. The Nikau Foundation also announced that it would provide $5000.... Keep Reading
Two Ōtaki College students who sailed on the Spirit of Adventure would recommend the experience to any young person. Kyla Tawhara-Royal and Jesse Green had 10 days on the sailing ship in May. The voyage is described by the Spirit of Adventure Trust as a life-changing experience – something that’s clearly been the case with Kyla and Jesse. Keep Reading
If you want to feel a sense of place – who you are and where you’ve come from – what better way than to perform a rousing haka. That’s exactly what Ōtaki College was doing this week as it demonstrated OC pride with a haka specially written and choreographed for the college. It’s the first time the college has had a haka to call its... Keep Reading
The 76th Ōtaki Scholar arrived in Ōtaki on Monday (July 15) and was welcomed with a pōwhiri at Raukawa Marae. It was a special occasion for Rohan Mudkavi, who sees the links between Ōtaki College and his own Robert Gordon’s College as particularly special. “Although our schools are so far apart geographically, there is... Keep Reading
An initiative that aims to provide shoes for all students has caught on at Ōtaki College, Thanks to young students Meleane Nelson-Latu and Alyssa Te Wiata, the Share a Pair scheme has already had more than 100 pairs gifted. The students say many more are needed to ensure that local families – not just college pupils – can have good shoes.... Keep Reading
Martin Ferretti came to Ōtaki from Lower Hutt with his family in 1960. He was not yet 5 years old, but the move to Bennetts Road and then Domain Road was to cement a lifetime connection to the town. The Ferrettis were market gardeners, as were most Italian families who moved to Ōtaki in the post-war period. His grandfather, also a gardener, came... Keep Reading
To those who knew her in Ōtaki, she was always Sandra Dorne, and remembered for her prodigious talents as a gymnast. Travelling back to Ōtaki for the first time in 31 years for the college reunion, she’s now Sandy Smith, gymnastics days behind her but still diminutive and living a happy life as a truckie in Brisbane. It’s a lifestyle that... Keep Reading
The early years of Ōtaki College were a time of relative stability and consolidation, with the roll growing to 603 by 1976. The following years were a time of constant change. The roll increased further in the 1980s to just over 680, then dropped to hover about 500. The baby boom was over. With the loss of students, staffing numbers also... Keep Reading
Before the opening of Ōtaki District High School on February 2, 1959, secondary education was afforded to pupils of the southern Horowhenua district by their travelling by rail or bus to Horowhenua College. Throughout the 1950s, there was, in New Zealand as a whole, huge growth in the provision of new secondary schools to cope with... Keep Reading
After the resounding success of the 50th jubilee and the amount of positive feedback received, the XŌtaki College Alumni Trust decided it would be worthwhile celebrating the college’s 60-year anniversary. This time around, the reunion committee is lucky to have a mix of members from the 50th jubilee committee, plus some new faces... Keep Reading
Kei aku nui, kei aku rahi, kei aku whakatiketike, nei rā ngā mihi matakuikui ki a koutou, ngā ākonga o mua. Ko koutou e whakanui ana i ngā tau e 60 o te Kāreti o Ōtaki nei. Nō mātou anō te māringa nui ki te manaaki i tēnei kaupapa whakahirahira o tātou. Kāore e kore he nui ngā āhuatanga rerekē, ngā āhuatanga hou, ā, ko te... Keep Reading