Maheno pupils leave for big Anzac trip

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Tuesday, April 21

Seven Maheno School pupils, principal Ryan Fraser and six adults left to Australia for the trip of a lifetime yesterday.

The school has been invited to Fraser Island in Australia to be part of a 100-year commemorative service to remember the soldiers who fought for Australia and New Zealand at Gallipoli in 1915.

Back in 1967, Maheno School was given the exact bell used on the hospital ship, Maheno, which was a steamship and converted into a hospital ship. The ship served off the coast of Gallipoli, taking hundreds of wounded soldiers to hospitals in Egypt.

Maheno School principal Ryan Fraser said it was a trip of a lifetime for the pupils.

“They’ve been counting down ever since it we were offered the opportunity to go over and be part of the service about eight to nine months ago.”

While it’s been frantic getting everything organised, Mr Fraser said they were ready to go.

“We’re all ready for the seven-day trip, which is going to be something we never forget and the school will have the privilege of saying we were a part of it.”

The opportunity to be a part of the service came when it was heard the original bell from the Maheno ship, which capsized off the coast of Fraser Island in 1935, was in the possession of the school, located just south of Oamaru.

Mr Fraser said the school would do everything they could to make sure the day was a success.

“We will do our best to make sure they’re in charge.”

While over in Australia they will attend a cocktail party on Tuesday night to present one of two replicas of the bell to the Maritime Museum in Brisbane where it will be on display. Those attending will include the New Zealand High Commissioner, the Turkish High Commissioner and the Lord Mayor of Brisbane.

From here it’s on to the Anzac service at Fraser Island on Saturday where the school will ring the official bell eight times. Pupil Thomas Ballantyne will do that on behalf of the school.

“I have to do eight different dings, so it’ll be a big honour,” he said.

Pupils from the school will then give a speech while other pupils and Mr Fraser will lay a wreath.

After the service they will then get to try a menu based on the food served on the ship back in 1915 –┬ásomething Mr Fraser and the rest of the touring party said this was something they were looking forward to.

“We can’t wait, we’ve seen the menu and it’s better than I originally thought, so that’ll be pretty cool to try.”

The Maheno ship has a strong link to North Otago, with medical staff and patients having been on the ship. NZ Post has produced a commemorative Maheno stamp to mark the centenary.

The group return on April 27. The bell will return later via courier.

PHOTO: BRAYDEN LINDSAY – Anzac travellers (from left) Kase Robb, Ryan Fraser, Thomas Ballantyne, Kiri Ballantyne, Fenella Ballantyne, Grant Robb, Libby Robb, Josh Kinnaird and Lindy McGregor are all ready for their trip to Australia for Anzac Day. Pupils Clark Ewing and DeArna Mooney, who are also part of the trip were meeting their fellow pupils in Christchurch.