Former Stoke School student Lesa Te Maari with a letter she wrote for the time capsule in 1999. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Stoke students travel through time for 175th


Past pupils and staff have reminisced on their time at Stoke School during the 175th celebration of the school’s opening.

Edith Mills attended Stoke School from 1947-50 along with four siblings and says there have been “huge changes”, but fondly recalled memories from 70 years previous.

“We didn’t have a uniform and there were only four or five classrooms, all our tech work was off-site, the bus would come and pick us up on a Friday and take us into Nelson. It was the highlight of the week, really. Back then women did cooking, and men did woodwork, of course.

“There was a rule you weren’t supposed to give the boys your cooking on the bus when you were coming home because they would make a mess, but sometimes that rule sort of got forgotten.”

As part of the birthday celebrations a time capsule, which was buried in 1999, was dug up and opened on Thursday.

Lesa Te Maari was there to retrieve her contents from the capsule along with those of her younger sister and her cousin, who passed away 11 years ago.

“I had to make sure I got here because it’s pretty special.”

Lesa says she doesn’t remember much about what she wrote about on Tuesday, 16 November 1999, just that it was about her day at school and what kind of things they did after school.

Her letter was easy to spot with a photo of her 10-year-old self-attached to the top corner.

“I’m not sure what I’ll do with it now, but I’ll keep it somewhere safe.”

Stoke School principal Sarah Davies says it was great to be able to celebrate the milestone, despite Covid-19 downscaling the planned events.

“It’s exciting for us because we are about to undergo some renovations, so understanding the whole journey and process and history of the school has been really special.”

Sarah says, next term pupils will put down another time capsule to mark the quartoseptcentennial anniversary and continue to preserve the history of New Zealand’s second oldest, continually-running public school.