Back in mid-1969 the first Rotary exchange student, Chris Elkin, arrived at Dannevirke High School from Carlsbad, New Mexico, US.

He stayed a year, hosted part of the time by Alan and Shirley Hewald, whose son Tony currently teaches at Dannevirke High School.

Dave Murdoch also started as a teacher in 1969 and taught Chris in 1969 and 1970.
They all came together again when Dannevirke's Rotary Club held its 90th birthday on Saturday evening, November 4, but it took some planning.

Tony Hewald invited Mr Elkin, who leapt at the chance to come from his home in Dallas because, he says, "My year as a Rotary exchange student in a lovely green country after only ever knowing desert totally changed my life".


It was equally challenging to get Hewald's dad to Dannevirke because for 16 years he had been living in Australia's Gold Coast. At 89 he was still very fit to travel and he arrived Saturday morning, much to Mr Elkin's surprise.

Mr Elkin hardly recognised any parts of the school but was able to replace a missing 1970 prefects' photo by making a copy from his own. He met up with some ex-classmates, including Stuart Smith.

Mr Elkin also brought some photos from his time including a parade on High St in September 1969 and the royal visit to Palmerston North in 1970.

He had gone on to complete a masters in communication and has been heavily involved in communication for a number of religious organisations, writing two books, one of which, "Heavenly Deception" was made into a film.