A reunion to remember

Al Kirk reminisces about the friendships that have lasted a lifetime.

University Archivist Louis Changuion with a Wool book
The Manawatū campus in 1973

Over Auckland Anniversary weekend about sixty geriatrics descended on Palmerston North – masks on, vax passes in hand ... how come?

Well ... in 2007, it dawned on me it was fifty years since I started Wairoa College, and I couldn't believe how fast the time had flown. At the time, I organised a reunion of my (then) third-form class, and it was a great success – with a number of us still keeping in touch. 

It made sense that six years later, that it was fifty years since we started Massey. Two of us (Jan Lockett-Kay and I) decided we should set up an informal reunion to celebrate the occasion, and that’s exactly what we did. 

It was an informal celebration in the sense it revolved around flats and flatmates – as opposed to opening it up to all those who enrolled as Year 1s in 1972. As a consequence, we had a few who had started in 1971, and some in 1973. There was also a special bunch of us who flatted together in London (some of whom didn’t go to Massey) but were included – because they were in “the flat”.

Over 150 invites were emailed out – and of those we had a strike rate of about 65% indicating their interest. When I sent a follow-up email to those one hundred in late November, about eighty confirmed they were definites. The week before the reunion the country went into Red, and as a consequence, twelve decided – for all the right reasons – that they could no longer make the trip, so we ended up in the high sixties.

The weekend started on Friday evening at Brew Union, then on Saturday morning, we had an excellent tour of the campus – taken by long-serving academic Hugh Blair (who started in 1972 with the rest of us), supported by Karen Greer from the Alumni Office (who had organised name tags, and special take-home bags. After the tour, we had lunch at the Elm Cafe on Fitzherbert Ave, had a snooze (as y’do), before meeting at Rosey O’Grady’s for pre-dinner drinks followed by a great night at the Arranged Marriage restaurant.

It was an excellent weekend with many highlights – even more so because we didn’t become a super-spreader event and hit the national news!

The campus tour was certainly special – for while buildings were generally in the same place, they had grown, and changed somewhat. In 1972, for example, the Student Union building was much smaller – with pigeonholes (for letters) on the Mezzanine; the dining hall was also most of the ground floor as all students ate there (we all had meal tickets that got punched each meal) (not the case now); there was a downstairs café – coffee, milkshakes, etc. (no longer there). 

We were the first students to use the new Rotary, City, and Egmont Halls of Residence, and back then, halls were segregated – with girls in McHardy, Walter Dyer, and Columbo, and boys in the rest – much different now.   

In short, it was a great catch up, as some of us hadn’t seen each other since Graduation in the mid-1970s.

Thanks again to all who came and made the two days so memorable and so much fun.


Would you like a self-organized reunion? The Alumni Office can support you in different ways to reconnect with your old friends. Contact us to talk about your plans: alumni@massey.ac.nz

Hugh Blair (who took us on the tour)

Al Kirk, Col Kay (outside Egmont Court)

Rose Motion (front), Ross Keeley, Alan Kennedy

Pete Robers (Rabbit), Bob Major, Craig Morton, Janet Brothers

Paul Robin (Bert)

Alan Kennedy, Lynette Tippet, Bridget O'Rourke

Harry Bayliss, Pauline and Mike Godber