The Mahurangi Heritage and Culture Group wants to organise a reunion for all alumni of Warkworth District High School and Mahurangi College, with plans in the works for a large event on Labour Weekend next year.
Organiser Dave Parker says he is going to need help for the once-a-decade event, which has previously drawn 600 past students to the Mahurangi College hall.
Next year will be the 160th anniversary since formal education was first set up in the old Warkworth District. Reverend Robert McKinney of the Warkworth Presbyterian Church oversaw the building of a schoolhouse in 1862.
Dave says he hopes that each of the schools in the Warkworth area will contribute in some way to help celebrate the milestone, and he is looking for anyone with knowledge on the history of local schools to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
It will also be 60 years since Mahurangi College was formed, taking over from the Warkworth District High School, which was where Warkworth School is today.
Meanwhile, by coincidence, Warkworth film maker Jon Waters has nearly completed a documentary about Warkworth District High School, made from 57 interviews with past students.
Jon interviewed people of all ages, including a woman in her 80s, who was able to vividly recall her first day at school.
He says the documentary will be filled with recollections of stories with the intention of showing present day students what school life was like in the old days of “bull rush and flying foxes”.
In the film, one former student of a school in Kaipara Hills recalls her teacher riding their motorcycle to school each day and storing it in the bike shed. Boys, up to no good, would urinate in the fuel tank.
The film was commissioned by the Warkworth School Parent Teacher Association in 2018. Jon says it will be up to the PTA how and when it will screen, but he expects it will be used for a fundraiser.
Jon himself is a descendant of the Paddison and Grimmer families, which settled north of Warkworth in the 1860s.
It is his first film of this scale, but he has produced film festival projects, including one on teenage girls’ perceptions of how society expects them to dress, and another on a wildlife sanctuary on Great Barrier Island.
He has set up a Facebook page for the school documentary called Warkworth District High School History and still wants to hear from people with stories about school life.