Omakau reunion grows to celebrate 13 schools

A one-off reunion celebrating primary schooling in the Manuherikia Valley will be held in January, in which former pupils, staff and committee members from 13 schools will join forces for the first time.

Omakau is the only one of the 13 schools still open and the reunion will double as its 75th anniversary celebration.

"This all started as a 75th anniversary celebration for Omakau and then we decided to do it as a one-off event and give all those [closed] schools one last reunion," jubilee secretary Sue Harris said.

"There used to be little schools dotted everywhere and even at Omakau's 50th, in 1985, the Becks and Lauder Schools were still open."

The reunion will involve people with connections to Omakau, Becks, Blacks, Lauder-Becks, Matakanui, Drybread, Cambrian, Falls Dam, Lauder Railway and Spottis Creek schools as well as St Bathans Public School and Roman Catholic school and Tinkers Roman Catholic School.

Some of the schools dated back to the 1860s and some, like the Falls Dam School, were open for only a few years, Ms Harris said.

Others amalgamated as time went on.

The most recently closed was at Becks, in 2000.

Jubilee president Ross Naylor and Kate Morgan are writing the history of the schools, which will be available at the jubilee.

"We'd really like to hear from anyone with relevant illustrations or photographs from those schools that we could use for the book," Mr Naylor said.

The celebration will begin on Friday, January 22 with an informal get-together, followed by a roll call and photos the next day at the Omakau Domain and a banquet and dance that evening.

A bus trip around the school sites may also be held.

On Sunday, the reunion will end with a barbecue lunch and farewell.

More than 200 people had registered but organisers were hoping for many more.

Registrations close at the end of next month.

Ms Harris can be contacted on (03) 447-3753.

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