Remembering the class of ’57

Trish Simpson with a photo of the founding students at Tauranga Girls’ College in 1957.

When Tauranga Girls’ College celebrates its 60th anniversary this Labour Weekend, there will be a small group of women quietly celebrating 61 years since they attended the school.

Te Puke’s Trish Simpson (nee Boyle) is one of about 160 students who attended the college in 1957 while it was still under construction. It officially opened in 1958.

“Sadly, we seem to have been forgotten,” says Trish, “and the anniversaries of Tauranga Girls’ College are always dated from 1958.

“Hence they are celebrating 60 years this year when in actual fact, for 160 of us, it is 61 years since the college opened for business.

“No one seems to recognise the fact that we were there at all and some of us feel like the ‘lost tribe’.”

But Tauranga Girls’ College principal Tara Kanji says the school does acknowledge the difference between the official opening and the class that was already under way in 1957, and former principal Pauline Cowens mentioned this at the 50th reunion.

She says she will also be acknowledging all alumni, including this group, at the upcoming reunion later this month.

Trish says the third form girls attended Tauranga College (now Tauranga Boys’ College) for the first three weeks of the first term in 1957, before being relocated down the road to the new school.

“We had the whole campus to ourselves,” she says, “with no senior pupils to lord it over us! The rest of the girls from Tauranga College joined us the following year when construction of the school was complete.

“There were enough classrooms for third formers but, of course, we had no basketball courts, library or gymnasium, just the classrooms. We had everything we needed though – we still had gym classes outside.

“That first year our headmistress was Mrs Wakelin, later to become Mrs Allo. Mrs Drayton became our headmistress later on. I am not sure of the exact date, but it was before I left at the end of 1959.”

Trish says she went to the school’s 50th anniversary celebrations but won’t be attending the 60th celebrations. “There weren’t very many of my year there last time and I don’t think there will be very many this time. It’s not surprising, as we’re all in our 70s now.”

Tara confirmed that a few members of the founding class of 1957 have registered for this year’s reunion.