What was originally meant as a catch-up of a few school friends to celebrate that they were all turning 60 this year snowballed into a full-blown event thanks to social media.

An initial Facebook post of foundation Waiopehu College students spread quickly and there was a huge turnout of the foundation students of 1973, a group brought together when a new school began in Levin.

That class of 73 will likely meet again, too, in 2023, as the school celebrated its 50th Jubilee.

Former principal Colin Hagan, 79, travelled from Hamilton to attend. He took over as principal of the school from foundation principal Jack Porter, and he was rapt to be on the invite list.

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"I was very excited as a young teacher to be put in a new school, because they were all third formers and because there was a roll of only 160, so we got to know the students really well and we got to know the parents really well, too," he said.

"Jack Porter did a great job as foundation principal. We were well led and he encouraged students and teachers to extend themselves and set goals. It was such an exciting time for a young teacher."

He shared going through an old school report with former student Rowan Swain that showed Porter's love for cricket analogies.

"Never throw away your wicket...it's not over until the last ball is bowled," the report said.

Hagan said he wasn't surprised that many students had stayed in contact "because they gelled very well."

There were 57 staff and students at the dinner at Murrayfield Cafe on Saturday night and more than 80 at a luncheon the next day, including current principal Mark Robinson.

Former Waiopehu College school principal Colin Hagan and current principal Mark Robinson met at a reunion at the weekend.
Former Waiopehu College school principal Colin Hagan and current principal Mark Robinson met at a reunion at the weekend.

Four of the original staff were able to attend - Mr Hagan, Selwyn Leitch, Betty Jago and Betty van der Mespel, as well as several other teachers from subsequent years.

"What is interesting is the large number of us students that grew up in the same neighbourhood and went through all our schooling years together so the bond is strong. We all got along well, despite not seeing each other for decades. We have a lot of fun," one former student said.

"It was like walking into a group of friends and we hadn't seen each other since college." another former student said.

Students and teachers shared laughs, photos and stories, with the students performing impromptu skit "Guess who this teacher is?"

An award was presented to the school by the former students to be awarded to the Year 9 student who demonstrated school values of positivity (rangatiratanga), respect (kaitiakitanga), determination (manawanuitanga) and excellence (angitūtanga).

Staff and students who had died were acknowledged on both days.