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Calling out for the Kuranui College originals

Kuranui College opening day, February 1960. PHOTO/WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE

Don Farmer

Nearly 60 years ago, on an overcast, slightly chilly mid-summer morning, more than 400 children squatted in a grassy Greytown paddock, brought to order on the command of a tall, black-haired man standing behind a wooden lectern.

Nearby sat 21 men and women who were his teaching staff along with members of a management committee headed by Greytown mayor Fred Yule.

This entire gathering was surrounded by dozens of mums and dads, parents of the foundation pupils of Kuranui College on the first day of the school’s existence.

Now, six decades on, those boys and girls who remain on terra firma are being asked to answer the call by attending a 60th anniversary reunion for foundation pupils.

Their ranks will have thinned, noticeably perhaps.

The man who had called them to order on February 2, 1960 – foundation college principal O.S. (Sam) Meads – has passed on, as have all but one of the foundation teachers with Clive Gibbs, the art teacher, the survivor.

But organisers of the milestone reunion Ngaire Flynn and Sue Harper are hopeful as many as possible of the first day 400 will make the effort to come along on January 28 and 29 next year to reconnect with old friends and classmates, and to reminisce.

They promise the old pupils who are all now over 70 will not have to squat down in a grassy paddock, instead being able to enjoy a leisurely lunch at the iconic Pukemanu Hotel, Martinborough, an evening meal (maybe a barbecue), a wander around the grounds of their old college, and other little highlights, culminating in a café brunch in Greytown on the second day.

Most important of all, Ngaire and Sue promise there will be no standing on ceremony.

It is to be a strictly informal get-together.

No glad rags, no registration fees, just a casual pay as you go catch-up.

But the organisers will need to get an accurate tally on just who will come along, mainly for catering purposes, so if you were one of those 400-odd who sat in the grassy paddock and listened to Sam greet you and set the rules for Kuranui all that time ago, please contact: [email protected] or [email protected].

Partners are welcome.


  1. Does anyone remember Ken, Lyn and Jenny Byronwood…. Ken is my Father and they went to Kuanui College in the 60s

  2. My brother John Howells was a foundation pupil. Sadly he passed away after a valiant fight with leukemia, in London on the 3rd December last year. I know that he would have been at your reunion if he could be – and that he would wish you all the very best for it – Joe Howells

  3. The photo shows me as standing, with my school case between my feet, at the beginning of the 4th row from the front. Good times, indeed!

  4. If you would like more history if those early days email me.
    More than happy to help
    My mother was Sam Meads secretary when the college opened so I can share memories.
    My mother’s name was Mary Clark.
    Look forward to hearing from you. My brother Chester CLARK was a foundation pupil. I started in the colleges 2nd year.

    • Hi Stephanie,
      I joined the staff in Kuranui’s second year so missed out on being among the originals but remember many: The two Smiths (Geoff and Johnnie), Peter Harding and Peter Spooner, Trevor Turner, Iris Maguire (became Mrs Greathead), Dulcie Rowden, Angus Fleming. I was sorry to see Guy Jansen passed on two months ago. I believe Clive Gibbs is the only surviving foundation teacher. I remember your mother well and the stirling service she gave as Sam’s secretary. I’m living at Kippa-Ring just outside Brisbane in Queensland.

      • Hi Lindsay

        Great info. Just a very slight correction, Miss McGuire didn’t marry and become Mrs (Betty) Greathead.
        I wasn’t a foundation pupil, but both were at Kuranui when I attended Kuranui many years later. I don’t think Miss McGuire ever married. If my memory serves me right, I think she was the rather stern head woman teacher, who also coached hockey.

        • Jack Bull married Iris Maguire.

          Born in 1910, he was born Burnett Hereward Love Bull in Lower Hutt, one of six children to Alfred Bull and his wife Eva Burnett. Bull trained as a carpenter and worked in Wellington at first before returning to Wairarapa where he married Stella Humphries in 1936.

          His first wife Stella, with whom he had three children, died in 1972, and in 1975 he married Iris Maguire. He died in 1999.

          Stella Bull was my Father’s older sister and my much loved Aunt. Miss Maguire taught me in 5th form and “stern” is an understatement.

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