First decade Ashburton College students reunite

The Ashburton College First XV rugby team of 1969. Former students will watch the 2021 team play against Marlborough Boys on the reunion weekend.

A special baton run may be re-enacted next week for the Ashburton College first 10 years reunion.

Fifty years ago, on May 6, third and forth formers at the newly-opened college took part in a relay run from the old Hakatere College and Ashburton High School to the new Ashburton College site on Walnut Avenue.

Reunion spokesperson Shirley Falloon said organisers were trying to track down some of those young runners to re-enact the event next Thursday, May 6.

She is keen to hear from those involved – knees and hips willing, they might still want to run, but walkers will be welcome too.

It would be a fitting start to the reunion weekend on May 7. There will be an informal catch-up at the MSA that night and then Saturday, May 8, will be a busy affair.

Shirley said registrations were nearing 200 and organisers were delighted. People were coming from Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland “and every point in between”.

Thanks to the opening of the transtasman bubble, two people from Australia have also registered in the last few days.

The Ashburton College student council of 1970.

Ashburton High School and Hakatere College merged in 1965 to become Ashburton College. The high school was on the current Ashburton Intermediate site and Hakatere College on the Ashburton police station and Balmoral Hall site.

The new college operated over both old sites until the Walnut Avenue campus was opened in 1971.

Shirley said she was among many students who did not attend classes at the new school.

Teachers also had to navigate three sites, in a Ministry of Education provided vehicle – meaning class times varied, depending on trains and fast-moving teachers.

Reunion events on Saturday will include tours of the current school by existing students. Then the alumni will watch the first XV in action against Marlborough Boys and have year group photos taken.

Principal Ross Preece will talk about the school’s planned $50 million rebuild.

That night, a formal dinner will happen at the Hotel Ashburton. Guest speaker is Pete Datlen, an old boy who now works for Rocket Lab, while master of ceremonies for the night is former head boy Ian Edward, who now lives in Rotorua.

Shirley said a memorial segment of the dinner would give everyone a chance to remember friends, staff and fellow students who had died.

Another reunion committee member, Bernard Egan, had also managed to track down a number of head students between 1965 and 1975, who would be sharing some memories.

She said everyone was looking forward to the weekend and rekindling memories and connections. While the reunion was originally for students in the college’s first 10 years, past students of the high school and technical college was welcome too.

The organising committee is: Peter Gluyas, Sheena Tyrell, Trevor Cochrane, Mark Kennedy, Bernard Egan, Ian Edward, Bruce Bell, Ross Preece and Shirley Falloon.

The Ashburton College girls’ indoor basketball side of 1968.