Work family ... Judy Fulton (left) and Pam Anderson played major roles in getting former Oamaru Inland Revenue staff back together, after the branch's closure 25 years ago. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

For many people, a tax office might conjure up images of files and fluorescent lights.

But before its closure on June 28, 1996, the Oamaru Inland Revenue Department office was a place for staff to build great connections.

Twenty-five years on, 65 former staff got together in Oamaru at the weekend, coming from all over New Zealand and across the Ditch, to catch up and reminisce about the good old days.

Organiser Judy Fulton said the event took nine months to pull together.

Mrs Fulton and former colleague Pam Anderson set themselves the task of calling as many of the office’s old employees as they could find.

“We have lived and breathed it for the last few weeks,” Mrs Fulton said.

Mrs Fulton and Mrs Anderson, who started at the office on the same day in 1969, were able to list off 187 names of former staff, 75 of whom had passed away.

That was a big factor in how the reunion came to fruition, she said.

“It’s been 25 years and so many of [us] aren’t here any more – it’s important to remember each other.”

The staff got on like one big family, she said.

“So many people have said those were the best working days they had.”

They had a basketball team, and held regular barbecues and get-togethers, and shared much of their social lives with one another.

When the office was closed because of a government cutback, Mrs Fulton and Mrs Anderson described it as a time of “doom and gloom”.

“Look where we are now … [we] all move on,” Mrs Fulton said.

Over the years, Mrs Fulton and Mrs Anderson had kept in touch – Mrs Fulton lives in Dunedin and Mrs Anderson in Oamaru – but after joining forces to organise the reunion, they became fixtures in each other’s lives once again.