Few people today know that on the Opunake-Stratford Road, 1000ft above sea level, lies a small district called Makaka, 24kms west of Stratford.
Now all past & present members of Makaka School & District are invited to a 100th year celebration & reunion on Sunday November 22.
Even fewer people know that over 100 years ago, Makaka was intended to be a rural service town.
The friendly community, and a school, for 64 years, meant that although it never got to be a town, Makaka was still not a place to be forgotten.
In the early 1890's the first families arrived to settle the district, and began the arduous task of clearing the bush for use as dairy farming land.
By 1908 a school was needed, and it opened in 1909, with a roll of 18, from seven local families.
The teachers boarded with local families and in the early years the school was used for church services. They also held euchre parties and dances in the school as a way of raising funds for the school.
School picnics were an annual event, with popular places being Opunake Beach, Kaupokonui Beach, Te Ngutu Domain, and Ngaere Gardens and pupils travelled to these on the back of the Awatuna Factory lorry.
It was a real credit to the pupils, parents and teacher, when Makaka school won the Tisch Shield twice, first in 1930, then 1949. The shield was presented each year for the previous year's best kept school grounds in Taranaki, according to the size of the school. Also in 1956, Makaka was judged the best of 19 schools in the area, when visited by board officials.
Electricity coming to Makaka in 1925 made life a little easier, but the change was gradual. Some families only had a few light bulbs and no hot points to begin with.
Milking became easier with electric motors as well.
1925 also saw the Opunake-Stratford Road get a metal surface.
In 1930, two inches of snow fell. None of the children had experienced snow, so the most was made of the situation, and they had a snow fight at school.
As a result of the floods, part of the Taungatara Factory got washed away and residents went down to salvage timber, mainly from the curing room. It was carted back to Makaka on the back of a truck, and used to build the hall, which still stands today.
The hall was completed in 1939. It had an excellent dance floor, because the wax had dripped from the cheese, in the curing room, and onto the floor. This made it smooth.
For about 10 years, during the 1940's and 50's, the Horgan family lived in the hall. It was partitioned into temporary bedrooms for the children, with a wood burner stove in the centre.
Makaka had a tennis Club, which must have started around 1931-32, and a very popular table tennis Club for many years, until it finished in 1972, due to the lack of numbers.
In 1960, the Makaka CWI (Country Women's Institute) was formed, and only recently amalgamated with Te Kiri.
Over its 64 years the school saw over 600 pupils pass through its doors.
No one in this small community liked the school closing, but it had been inevitable.
At the end of term 2, 1973, Makaka school closed.
The main part of the school was taken to Stratford for use as a playcentre.
The junior room was sold, and the schoolhouse was moved for use as a school house in Opunake.
The seven pupils went to either Awatuna or Riverlea schools, which meant the end of Makaka as it's own little community.
So, after starting out as plans for a town, Makaka developed into a close, friendly community.