Castlecliff School turned 125 earlier this year. In October they'll be celebrating with a school reunion.
The reunion has been driven by the women of the Forward family, formerly resident in Laird St, Castlecliff - Margaret Forward and her daughters Maressa Neal and Judith Nichols.

Des Warahi is chairman of the Castlecliff School Board of Trustees, and he's also chairman of the organising committee for the reunion.
"The team came together in 2015, and that was the Forward family. They'd been driving this with their 100 per cent Authentic Kids of the Cliff Facebook page. I was in Auckland when they had this meeting and the school principal suggested they get Des on board. They minuted it and I got the minutes a year later," says Des.
He says he got an inquiry from a former Castlecliff School pupil now resident in Afghanistan, who was told that Des knew all about the reunion. That prompted Des to track down the minutes to find out he was actually on the reunion committee.

It's a small team behind this 125th anniversary reunion, with Des Warahi (chairperson), David Kirby, Bea Ngataierua, Maressa Neal (treasurer), Leonie Papworth and Raewyn Sopp. Marilyn Robinson, Pauline Mulligan and Kelly Scarrow are supporting the group.

There was also support from the committee that organised the centenary reunion in 1992.
"There was a putea, a fund, put away from the last reunion, and it was substantial," says Des.


The last reunion funded some of the library and made donations to the Castlecliff Bowling Club, the Surf Lifesaving Club and the school swimming pool, and still had money left over.
"So we didn't have to start from scratch," says Des. The present committee continued the largesse with a further donation to the school swimming pool this year. An earthquake had cracked the bottom of the pool so it had to be relined.

The reunion Facebook page has been the main impetus behind registrations so far - that, and word of mouth, says Des.

Castlecliff School has a roll of 159 and operates very differently from the old days of classrooms and blackboards.
"Four years ago we had a roll of 62. This is Kathy's fifth year." Des is obviously pleased with the progress and philosophy of the principal, Katherine Ellery.
"We've taken walls out," he says. The school is run on a Team Teaching approach with the school divided into four - Tuapapa, Junior Whanau, Team Tama and Whanau. The four "classes" have both immersion and mainstream options at various learning levels.
"It works for our community," says Des.

The Reunion opens on Friday, October 20, with a social time at the Castlecliff Club from 3pm. The official ceremony starts on Saturday at 10am in the school hall followed by a performance from current students as well as school tours, displays, photos and refreshments. Saturday night is the Reunion Dinner starting at 6.30pm at the Racecourse with guest speakers Jenny Duncan, deputy mayor and past student, and former mayor Annette Main.
The evening features dancing and live entertainment.

Sunday is Reunion closure and remembrance ceremony starting at 11.30am. The Committee has commissioned a painting of the original school house by a local artist.
A School Reunion Book will be available for sale during the weekend.

Castlecliff School opened on March 23, 1892, with 29 pupils and at its peak it had a role of 600.
The school was opened to provide education for the children of families who reside in the newly formed suburb of Castlecliff.

The last reunion was held in 1992 to celebrate the school's 100 years and was very successful with past students and staff attending from around New Zealand and overseas. For past students and staff who want to see how their old school looks and how students learn these days they can check out the school's website
Registration forms are at, by email or pick up a form from the school office.

For more information call: Des Warahi - Reunion Committee Chairperson: 027 370 5865 or Castlecliff School: 06 3444537.