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Former Tereora College students reunite, reminisce

Saturday 10 December 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Features, Local, National


Former Tereora College students reunite, reminisce
1950s Tereora College students: Avaiki Aperau (left), Aumai Ariki, Papehia Aviu, Ina Herrmann and Ngamau (Aunty Mau) Munukoa. 22120202

Tereora College students from the 1950s and 1960s reconnected with one another sharing an evening of laughter, songs and nostalgia, indulging in enjoyable recollections of their past at the country’s national college.

Approximately 50 of the former students who are now in their late 70’s with a few over the grand 80 year mark, attended the special catered function last week

The occasion opened with the Tereora College anthem Kia Toa sung with pride, followed by the welcoming address from Norman George who encouraged everyone to relax, celebrate and share good and not so good experiences from school.

This reunion started three years ago when former Tereora College scholarship students who attended Northland College in New Zealand (including George) reunited in Rarotonga.

The students decided to stay connected, meeting for lunch/dinner on the first Friday of every month.

To keep the momentum going, other Tereora colleagues were invited to join in and slowly the group grew.

Tereora College students from the 1950s, Teina Etches and Maru Pureau. 22120207
Tereora College students from the 1950s, Teina Etches and Maru Pureau. 22120207

“We are now in our third year, maturing and getting better all the time,” said George.

The group has plans to formalise their organisation in February next year, hoping to hold an AGM and elect office bearers.

 “Also, I think it’s time to connect with the college to help with the students of the day and be available to help them along,” he said.

Emcee of the occasion, Kopurai Anguna, acknowledged their classmate, Mitaera Ngatae Teatuakaro Michael Tavioni BEM for receiving the Queen’s medal award in the 2022 Birthday Honours list.

Tavioni completed his secondary education at Tereora, before moving to New Zealand for further studies.

Tereora has produced very talented people who became leaders, lawyers, business people etc. said Tavioni.

There have been discussions about documenting the stories of former students, he said, and unfortunately some have already passed on.

June Baudinet (nee Taringa) attended Tereora College in the 1950s; she returned from New Zealand in 1967 to teach at Tereora, one of the youngest teachers at the time at the age of 22.

“This occasion is really nice, let’s keep it going and embrace more students to keep this alive,” said Baudinet.

Norman George attended Tereora College in the 1950s. 22120205
Norman George attended Tereora College in the 1950s. 22120205

Tupou Faireka, who grew up in Manihiki, attended Aitutaki High School then Tereora college from 1966 to 1969. Some of his school mates were Cassey Eggelton (nee Tuavera), Niki Rattle (nee Apii), Rouru Utia, Dorothy Hosking, Tarani Pongi, Dr Henry Tikaka, Dr Phillip Nicholas, and Dr Henry Nicholas.

Faireka shared that he and his friends from the “outer islands” dreaded lunch time at college, when everyone had to sit in front of the classroom and eat for 20 minutes before playing.

“We didn’t have money, couldn’t afford lunch,” he said, so instead they would head to the toilets pretending they weren’t well.

And not being able to speak English, they also had to deal with stigma from other kids calling them undesirable names. 

But, determined and resilient, these students from the North kept focused on their studies.

“I think that’s why some of us became quite successful because we persevered,” said Faireka. “We had to do extra studies and we achieved qualifications.”

One thing that does make him happy he says is that “the good thing is most of us came back home and contributed to the development of our country, that’s what I like most.”