Kaipara College reunion: there will be stories

by Helen Martin
School reunions are all about people getting together and sharing memories and no doubt when people gather for the Kaipara College reunion this Labour Weekend many reminiscences will be about the school’s role as a crucible for life partnerships.

Judith and Norm Greenall

Judith (third along, 2nd row) and Norm (right end of 2nd row) in 3A at Helensville District High, 1954.

Norm Greenall’s grandparents William and Jane arrived in Kaukapakapa from Scotland in 1922 and took over Drinnan’s Store, which later became Norm’s family home. Norm was born at Malolo House in 1941, Judith was born there 17 days later (her father, Arnold Kessell White, was also born there). She lived in a two storied villa in Captain Street, Helensville. As a child her best friend was Jaqueline Keane, whose parents owned the popular boarding establishment, Hinemoa House.
From 1954 to 1957, Judith and Norm were classmates at Helensville District High, which had opened in 1924. By 1954 there were around 200 pupils, remembered by Judith as ‘rather like an over-large family’. Mr Russell was Headmaster of both Helensville Primary and District High. They both loved going to school, where Judith studied Commercial subjects and Norm studied what was then known as ‘Academic’ and enjoyed the sport. Norm’s memories of school include getting the strap from the art teacher every Friday ‘in case I upset him the following week’ and moving teachers’ cars onto the tennis court. “I got six of the best for that,” he says.
After leaving school Judith became a shorthand typist, married and had two daughters. Norm ‘ran away and joined the Navy’ where, among other adventures, he was sent to the Antarctic to help rebuild Scott’s hut, married and had two sons. The pair came together when, both now 71 and single, they met again at a class reunion Judith had organised. She tells the story of a speech she gave at the next reunion. “There is a rumour going around that Judith White and Norman Greenall have been seen getting up to mischief in the shelter sheds at school. Well, it’s true.” Having later become engaged at a 3rd form class reunion, they married two years ago, when they were 76.Now living in Orewa, Judith and Norm keep in touch with their roots volunteering at Helensville Museum. With such long association with the area they’re looking forward to catching up with old friends at the Kaipara College reunion.

Janet and Graeme McLeod

Graeme and Janet McLeod

Reunion organising committee members and former Kaipara College students Janet and Graeme McLeod are also looking forward to the Labour Weekend event. Graeme McLeod, who was born in Malolo House in 1951, has solid connections with Helensville as a great-great-great grandson of Isaac and Janet McLeod who, with Isaac’s brother John and his wife Helen, emigrated from Nova Scotia in 1861 and later were the first Europeans to settle in Te Awaroa, which John later renamed ‘Helensville’ after his wife.
Janet Hawley, who came with her family to live in Helensville when she was eight, went to Helensville Primary, where Graeme McLeod’s Aunty Val was her first teacher. In the 3rd form at Kaipara College in 1969, her friendship with Graeme’s sister Raewyn resulted in her staying at the South Head McLeod home, which had been built by Graeme’s grandfather Vivian McLeod. Janet recalls it wasn’t until she was in the 5th form and after Graeme’s return from a year as an American Field Scholar that they first went out together. Their first date was at Hinemoa House, where Janet waitressed before and after school.
Graeme and Janet remember hanging out in Commercial Rd milk bars and the rugby club in the weekend. Often there would be rugby club dances with live bands at the War Memorial Hall. At school they both enjoyed the academic work and the sport. Janet has strong memories of school uniform hassles – in the days of the miniskirt the regulation gym frock length was hard to take – and they both remember many of their teachers, particularly physics teacher Brian Dunphy, who would invite students home to socialise with him and his family, and Head of English Joan Ruzich, who took Graeme and Janet (who was underage) to see Clockwork Orange, and later asked Graeme and his cousin Helen to be her son David’s godparents.
After marrying when Graeme was 24 and Janet was 20, the couple, after returning from a two-year OE, moved to the South Head McLeod family home, running the farm and raising three daughters. For the last 23 years Graeme has been working in real estate. Janet, after pursuing a career in finance, is now an arts therapist working from the Helensville Women and Family Centre.
They’re both looking forward to catching up with people they haven’t seen for a long time and hoping to see a lot of people from their year groups, particularly at the big party on the Saturday night.

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