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Okarito Hostel Centenary

21st October 2001

Thanks to all who attended our Centennial Day celebrations, which were a tremendous success. The day was one of those picture book Westland classics.

Around 150 people turned out and a thanksgiving service in the old schoolhouse set the day off.

Rev. Charles Lucas gave thanks to the early pioneers and families of the district and introduced the loaves and fishes theme of the day. A karanga from Keri Hulme welcomed the visitors to Okarito. Keri read memoirs from Gordon Parry, a schoolteacher in the 40’s.

A wander to Donovan’s Store highlighted a display of historic photographs of the village and pioneers dating back to 1868. It is hoped these photographs will form the basis of a future permanent display to be housed in Donovan’s.

The Kokatahi Band played away throughout the afternoon while guests were treated to barbequed turbot and fresh asparagus washed down with champagne and billy tea.

The children were delighted with a visit from a pirate who had just found a treasure map encased in ice on the beach. They were led on a merry chase around the village in search of treasure which was rescued just in time from beneath a log on the beach amid squeals of excitement as surges from the high tide lapped at their toes. Much more energy was expanded on races and games along with the traditional lolly scramble. Miss Ella Beckett of Christchurch treated us to an Irish dance in full costume.

Gar Graham and Maisie Friend cut the celebrity cake and Gar planted a commemorative totara outside the schoolhouse. A timely white heron swooped low over the planting site as though in approval of a splendid day. The marque is packed away until the next grand Okarito occasion, when we hope all our old identities will return again to reminisce on the wealth of memories left behind in this tiny corner of South Westland.



Special thanks to the Franz Business Community who donated prizes for our day.

Also to Westland District Council, Y.H.A.N.Z. and Department of Conservation for funding, and to David Alexander for recording the proceedings on film.

Debbie Mclachlan

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