'Best dam reunion' for Benmore 50th

A community group in Otematata is planning the ''best dam reunion'' ever to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Benmore power station and dam.

Although 2013 Census figures show just 186 people live in Otematata, resident Vicky Munro said the town, which was founded to host construction workers on the Upper Waitaki hydro scheme in 1965, was expected to increase in size drastically when a planned ''village reunion'' took place in March 2015.

At its peak in 1964-65, the town boasted a population of more than 4100.

''The initial idea developed via a forum on Facebook - 2015 is a significant year: Benmore power station, hydro dam and DC transmission was commissioned in 1965, so the year 2015 is a 50-year anniversary,'' Mrs Munro said. Registrations of interest from residents who had lived in the village between 1955 and 1972 could be sent to a newly formed village reunion committee.

Mrs Munro said 121 people had registered their interest in just three weeks since the reunion was announced on the www.exploreotematata.co.nz website and the Dam Dwellers Reunion Facebook page.

''This is the first time a hydro village reunion has been planned and probably the last time.

''Committee members are based all over the world and the local committee members' telephones are running hot contacting individual ex-Otematata people, tracked from all over the world, to let them know of the planned reunion.''

Early registrations indicated a diverse range of people wanting to attend, she said.

''There's lots to organise, but with the steady flow of pre-interested registrations of ex-construction workers, their children ex-school pupils and business owners and their families via the website, it's going to be a reunion to remember.''

- andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz

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