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Papakaio School’s 150th jubilee celebrations, which start on Good Friday, hold special significance for two families who have been involved with the school from the beginning.

The Borrie and Gray families were instrumental in the establishment of the school, and over the years, several generations of family members have either attended the school or been involved at governance level.

Donald Borrie and W Gray were appointed to a committee for “education purposes”, elected on October 28, 1867.

An article that appeared in the North Otago Times on December 6, 1867 reported that the Education Board intended to put a grant of $100 towards a school to be opened in some part of the Waitaki district which was considered most central between the Awamoko River and the road to Browns Ferry, near Papakaio.

However, an appropriate spot could not be found as there were no children living in the area that would be the centre.

There was also disagreement between settlers at Papakaio and Awamoko, which resulted in the former securing the grant for what would later become Papakaio School.

Before that, a private school was being run by Mrs Trotter out of a Papakaio cottage.

The Education Board grant was approved on the basis Mrs Trotter would be appointed schoolmistress for the new school, and it be run out of the cottage until a permanent location, the school’s current site, was found.

Jessica Wright (nee Gray), who attended the school and is now a board of trustees member, said both families had lived and farmed at Papakaio for more than 150 years.

She and husband Jeff have three children at Papakaio School, and Rogan and Michelle Borrie have two children there and another who used to attend the school.

Mrs Wright, who grew up on her parents’ sheep and crop farm before it converted to dairy, said while the area had changed over the years, some things had stayed the same.

“Both of our families are farming families in the area and that’s continued through that 150 years .. we are quite proud that we’ve had that ongoing connection to the community and a big part of it is Papakaio is a very cohesive community.

“We’re also proud of the fact the school has grown and is successful as it is.”

She said the two families had formed a close relationship over the years.

“Every generation has grown up together.”

Mrs Wright looked forward to the jubilee celebrations and was excited to be part of them.

“It’s really exciting. I like the fact we are celebrating the past and how much the school and community has changed. We are also really looking forward to the future and being part of that and how far the school has come in terms of its modern classrooms and the modern learning environment.

“We’re really proud of the fact the families have been involved for 150 years .. while we’re really proud of our past, we are proud of our present and are excited for the future. It’s very much a growing and thriving community and it’s much more multicultural now.”

Papakaio School’s 150th jubilee starts on Friday and runs until Sunday.