OPENING: The Maori Culture Club performs at the opening of the new wharenui, Te Pae Aka. Photos supplied


THIS is the year of Whakatane High School’s diamond jubilee, celebrating 60 years since the school opened.

A block is burnt to the ground and 65 fire fighters are needed to put out the blaze.

Sharon Tongs is selected to play first violin in the New Zealand Secondary School Orchestra and Paul Barr plays rugby for the New Zealand Secondary School 1st XV and wins a New Zealand Herald award for the Young Sportsperson of the Year.

FIRE: A Block burns, 1980.

Head girl and Dux Judith Rutherford wins a university scholarship and a New Zealand Herald scholarship for scholastic achievement.

This is the year of volleyball. Whakatane High is the first school in New Zealand to have a team qualifying for nationals in every grade. The senior girls and junior boys win their tournaments, making them national champions. The junior girls are third and the senior boys fifth. Coaches at the time are Barry Gordan and Jane Orsler.

The jubilee is a great success with over a thousand people attending the dinner in the Whakatane War Memorial Centre. Teacher Pat Rafter edits the Jubilee Magazine.


GILLIAN Wightman is Dux, head girl, tennis and athletic champion. Dracula Spectacula is the most ambitious school production to date and the full-house sign goes up on the final night.

Basketball has 19 teams involving 150 players from third formers to seventh formers.

There is a great debate between the teachers and the seventh form. The topic is that seventh formers are unjustly accused of slacking. The students win due to a stacked judges table. It is a lot of fun.


THE school’s wharenui, Te Pae Aka, is opened on November 21. The occasion is attended by deputy prime minister Duncan McIntyre, members of parliament Ian Shearer, Peter Tapsell and Bruce Gregory.

The ribbon is cut by Ngati Awa chief Manuera Eruera and the unlocking of the door is done by Principal Peter McLay. The honour of the first women to enter the meeting house is given to fourth form student Anahera Harawira who later becomes head girl.


NEW Zealand university scholarships are won by Jamie Hamill and Carol Atmore. The junior girls volleyball team wins the national champs. The senior boys are second, senior girls fourth and junior boys third. This is the third time the school has been represented at all four grades. No other school has done that.

The showband wins the youth section of the New Zealand Secondary School Jazz Festival and the production, Starblaze, is one of our best musicals. Prefects camp was at Te Kaha Marae with the highlight being concert night and the chocolate pudding eating contest.

Computers are introduced for administration and education. The cricket team has great success with D Kilgariff being devastating with the bat.


NITA Shannon retires. Mrs Shannon has spent 34 year at the school, starting in 1953. She has devoted much time to netball, sewing for productions, and caring for those that need a little extra help.

Brendon Bell is the Bay of Plenty secondary school tennis champ. Golfers Steve Watson, Hamish Wright, Stewart Stephen and David Lett are Bay of Plenty secondary schools golf champions. The Maori club takes 40 students and eight adults to the South Island, performing in Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, Picton and Greymouth.

A music tour travels to Wellington with 74 students and their instruments, two buses and10 adults. Everyone enjoys the sights of Wellington as well as giving five performances.

Kelvin Wickham wins a New Zealand university scholarship. The senior girl volleyballers win the nationals after coming second the previous year.

The Maori club hosts the largest Maori cultural competition in Aotearoa. The school marae, Te Pae Aka, welcomes Education Minister Russell Marshall and hundreds of competitors. Katarina Martin wins first place in the girls leader section.

The highlight for music is the showband gaining second place at the National Jazz Festival.

The six-day trip to the Outdoor Pursuits Centre near Turangi is a highlight for many students. They learn rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, map and compass work, tramping and climbing mountains. At the Bay of Plenty cross country championships the junior, intermediate and senior boys teams all come in first place.


OUR tennis players have a lot of success. Adrian Law wins Bay of Plenty secondary school senior singles and, with Blair Sedcole, wins the doubles title. Mathew Houng Lee is third in the TVNZ junior gymnast of the year competition, and represents New Zealand in Australia.

Shane Pask, N Shewry and Gina Bryant compete in the New Zealand National gymnastics champs. Sam Clarke captains the softball team that wins the Bay of Plenty competition.

Roger Harris retires after 13 years on the staff, and Mavis Rafter retires after 16 years on the staff.


THE start of the year sees staff and students jumping under their desks during the big earthquake. Those in classes at the top of N block will be haunted by the memory of rolling fields forever.

The roll is 1012 students, 55 full time teachers and 12 part time. There are 987 enrolled in night school with 45 tutors. The Maori cultural club tours Wanganui and Taranaki districts.

They are hosted on marae, experience the Whanganui River, Maunga Taranaki and some history of the area.

Peter McLay retires after 18 years as principal and a 32 year involvement with the school, starting in 1955 as the teacher in charge of driving the bus from Matata.

He reflects on the more flexible timetabling that came in in 1971, which offered more choice for the students. The new subjects like horticulture, Japanese, computer studies, Maori language and Maori tanga, drama, and outdoor education. He is proud of our tradition of academic excellence. He congratulates those teachers working hard to raise

Maori achievement and makes reference to Peter Thompson’s classes.


GRAEME Spencer becomes principal. The 1st XV is captained by Jason Palmer. Gareth Littlejohn, Shane Worrall, and Joe Moeke make the Bay of Plenty secondary schools team.

Maori club exploded from its usual 35 members to 100. This is due in part to the Form 3 bilingual class, regular competitions, visiting schools and the club’s Australian tour. The highlights of the tour included friends made in Gawler, The New Zealand High Commission function and Ayres Rock.

Former pupil Toni Jeffs is selected for the New Zealand swimming squad for the 1990 Commonwealth Games. The junior boys volleyball win nationals for the second time in the school’s history.


B block is destroyed by fire. Tomorrow’s schools introduce the board of trustees model as a new form of school governance. Ainsley Gardiner is the first student representative on the board.

She says she feels listened to but wants a school council so she can gain more support from the student body. Rebecca Jones is the head girl and dux and Paul Julian is head boy and best all round athlete. The 1st XV has a mixed season but Chris Scott, Whanoke Keepa and Te Whetu Waretini make the Bay of Plenty Secondary School team.

Netball has a good season with Karamea Tukukino captaining the side and making the Whakatane A representative team. Basketball has one of its more successful seasons with 14 teams and some promising juniors.

Paul Julian leads the scoring and is selected with Jerone Jensen in the Whakatane men’s team. Boys football has an enjoyable season culminating in the tournament where they played well. Paul Manktelow made the tournament team.

Cricket continues to perform well, fielding two teams . Chris Scott bats a century. The music department continues to be strong, with up to 70 students participating in various groups. The biology class, led by Peter Fergusson visits Whale Island for a week, staying in tents and counting lizards, plants and tidal animals.

BURNT REMAINS: The remains of a science laboratory from the 1980 fire.