Collections

Looking for Old Friends?

June 14th, 2019, By Gillian Lee

Old Friends (www.oldfriends.co.nz) was a popular social networking website owned by Trade Me. Its purpose was to help people locate former school friends and workmates. Members who signed up to Old Friends could upload photos, post comments, contact each other and compile information for reunions. The site was launched in 2002 and finally closed in 2016.

When Trade Me announced that they would be taking the site down, the National Library quickly got in touch to see if we could work together to harvest a copy of Old Friends for the Library’s collections. Both Trade Me and the National Library were keen to ensure the content contributed by thousands of New Zealanders would not be lost, but could remain available through time. We very much appreciate the assistance Trade Me provided that enabled us to harvest a copy of Old Friends.

We’ve had great interest from researchers wanting to access the archived copy of Old Friends. We realise that the content is not only useful for people today, but future researchers will see Old Friends as a wonderful example of a popular site created during the early years of the New Zealand web.

The front page of Old Friends featuring yellow and blue and a green map of New Zealand with hyperlinked regions.
The home page of Old Friends as it appeared before closing in 2016.

Technical challenges

We faced some technical challenges along the way, relating to the crawl itself and also the new viewer we needed to install, so that you can view the archived site. We're happy to announce that, as of today, it's now available in our digital archive.

If you were an active member of Old Friends, you’ll see that the archived copy has limitations. You may not have been aware how much content you were creating that was password protected and assumed that we’ve captured it. But we haven’t, because much of that content would have been subject to the Privacy Act. That’s why we only captured the content people chose to make publicly accessible. If you click on some links and you get the login box below, you won’t be able to log in.

The login screen for Old Friends.
The Old Friends login screen. If you see this in the archived copy you won't be able to log in.

When I heard that Old Friends was closing down, my first thought was “I hope people keep a copy of any important information they created on this platform!” I know Trade Me advised people to do this, but if you’re like me it’s easy to put it off until later. Then it can be too late, especially in the digital world. My colleague Val wrote an excellent blog last year called The history of you and me about preserving your digital treasures. It’s a good reminder to think about the digital content you’ve created and ensure that they’re kept safe.

I was curious to see what we’d captured in the Old Friends web harvest, so I took a trip down memory lane, back to my school days to see if I could find some old school friends.

I started by using the map because the search box doesn’t work in the archived copy. My old primary school is in Taupō which is part of the Bay of Plenty / Waikato region. I clicked on the Waikato link initially.

I discovered there were 985 schools listed so I clicked on the “school” link and then “T” to find Tauhara Primary. Not much there, so I went back to the Bay of Plenty and found Tauhara School. There were 50 photos listed but when I clicked on the link I got this error message:

A screenshot of a HTTP 404 Server Error Messagee

Internet Archive version of Old Friends

For some reason the Old Friends site was experiencing a server problem at the time the harvester was copying the pages from the Bay of Plenty region and it harvested the error message that popped up rather than the photos. Normally we would reharvest the site, but we didn’t have that option, because the site was going down. What a pain!

However, all is not lost – that’s where web harvesting by other organisations really helps. If you can’t find it in one place, you may find it elsewhere. I copied the URL for that page (http://www.oldfriends.co.nz/InstitutionPhotos.aspx?institution=8642) and pasted it into the Internet Archive browser to see if they’d captured the page — they had!

View the Old Friends page on the Internet Archive

A screenshot of the webpage for Tauhara School photos gallery

I found the names of some former pupils and I recognised one of them. What a memory jogger that was!  She shared a brief snippet about the teachers who were there between 1970-1975:

Memories From Tauhara Primary: Mrs Brown.. Infants teacher.

I’d forgotten Mr Charteris was the principal back then. I have a vague image in my memory of what he looked like. Some of the photos I looked through dated back to 1959 when the school first opened and there were some from the years I attended. None of my class photos though.

My next stop was Taupō Intermediate School. Here I recognised quite a few people in the class photos, some are still my friends today. The class photos have names listed if people have been identified, otherwise there’s a question mark. In this photo I noticed some pupils wearing the ‘new’ blue school uniform. I think we were the first group to start wearing it. Glad I got to wear the new uniform and not the old grey gym slip! And no, I’m not in the photo – still couldn’t find one!

Class photo of Taupō Intermediate Form 1 Room 22, 1975.
Class photo of Taupō Intermediate Form 1 Room 22, 1975.

I went back to our copy of Old Friends and started checking out some of the other pages where people posted about old friends they were trying to locate. You get smatterings of conversations – members referring to people I knew who moved to Australia to work in the mining industry; that in 2006 “Hilly” – The Hillcrest Tavern near Waikato University was closing down (Noooo!!).

It makes you want to log in to be a member to find out more, but you can’t, because the platform’s not there anymore. But the snippets are interesting nonetheless. They reminded me of people, places and events that I hadn’t thought about in years. It makes me wonder when I see a list like the one below – did you find your friends?

A page showing some of the 8,863 attendees to the University of Waikato.
A page showing some of the 8,863 attendees to the University of Waikato.

While it was sad to see Old Friends close down, other social media platforms have emerged to fill the gap. A quick search on Facebook shows at least three groups taking up the challenge to help members find old friends: Old Friends New Zealand, Old School Friends New Zealand and Old Friends New Zealand Schools.

Our archived copy of Old Friends may not be perfect, but there’s still enough information contained in the public-facing portion of the site to make our efforts worthwhile. We hope you’ll agree.

If you’d like to know more about the websites we collect, visit the New Zealand Web Archive collections page.

View the Library's archived copy of Old Friends on the NDHA.

View the Internet Archive copy of Old Friends on the Wayback machine.

Post a blog comment
(Your email will never be made public)
Lorraine Bennett
5 May 2022 3:32pm

Looking for Phillip Moore and Jarred Fisher from Te Puna in the 1960s.

Dave Harris
6 April 2022 5:08pm

Great information and a wonderful way to convey it! Congratulations and many thanks for your assistance.
Thank you for creating a fantastic resource for locating long-lost relatives.
https://dewwool.com/

Brett Cunningham
6 April 2022 12:02pm

I have forgotten my Old Friends password. Can I get another password? I attended Tauranga Boys' College from 1960 to 1964.

Brett Cunningham

Grant Murrell
2 March 2022 4:19pm

I'm looking to find Tanya Bourke worked for TUF DEK in Cambridge in 1995 -96

Gail Tewhat
12 February 2022 1:56am

I am looking for school photos from TeAwamutu intermediate around 1957 TO 1959

Andrew Paterson
27 January 2022 11:51pm

Richmond school.napier

Chris
24 January 2022 12:57am

I'm looking for Ruth People's that went to Southland Girls High in the 80s Invercargill anyone who can help appreciated.

Christine Kendall
15 January 2022 4:53pm

Looking for a Robyn Osborne. Went to New Windsor School in the 60s.

Bruce Gibbins
10 January 2022 3:37pm

During 1973/4 I worked in a small team of four people representing the Auckland based women's underfashion manufacturer, Fayreform. Latter sold to Bendon.
I would like to meet up with the one member of our team whose whereabouts has been unknown to me since the mid-1970s. That's nearly fifty years ago.
Her family name was Grange, they lived in Khandalla.
Our colleagues name was Cathy/Kathy Grange, however her family name changed during the mid-70s when Cathy married, John Warren, who was at that time a railway porter on the Silver Star night train from Wellington to Auckland.
Cathy also had a younger sister who worked for a while at the James Smiths dept store on the corsetry counter here in Wellington during this same early 70s period.
Still in the 70s I heard that Cathy had joined the Hari Chrishna movement in Wellington, but that may have been just heresay.
Any information would be gratefully and warmly appreciated.
If there are any leads out there I'd be very happy to receive these.
Kind wishes
Bruce

Va opo
6 January 2022 7:57pm

Looking for my best friend Shelly stowe . We worked together at Sanyo auto crate Carr rd mt rascal Auckland in the 80si . If anyone remembers Shelly stowe or va opo please send email I would love to make contact

Lourdes Peter
2 January 2022 12:51pm

My name lourdes Peter my nickname Louise i sm looking for fleur and David Commonwealth they went to Palmerston North School and they want to Victoria university wellington in 1993 now I am looking for fleur very hard to find her in Facebook i don't know a surname can anyone know fleur please we flat at 149 Glenmore Street Thorndor wellington in 1993 last time I see fleur the last time I spoke to her Tory Street Wellington 2000 she was pregnant end 2004 I saw she have wonderful baby boy that is last time I saw her my Facebook name lourdes Peter my ph 0210275487 please message me please thanks

Brian Patterson
23 December 2021 1:16pm

Looking for Christine Collins Fairfield College about 1968--1970..would like to say Hi! again & locate other F/C Past Pupils same Dates...

Robert rhodes
30 October 2021 4:26pm

Looking for an old friend,. Maxine ne Scott Nd
the twins,

Vicki smith
22 October 2021 12:13pm

I’m looking for my friend Nicola McWilliams who was from Manurewa Auckland. We worked together in 207 salon in Raynes park. Sw19 she was a hairdresser. I was a beauty therapist. She left 23/24 years ago when my son was tiny. It would be amazing to receive any reply. We wrote for a while but then lost touch

Dean niethe
10 September 2021 4:34pm

I'm looking for the most gorgeous girl I had the pleasure of meeting 20 years ago in Christchurch..I was from Napier staying with my hairdresser cousin Racheal who unfortunately passed away..the name of that gorgeous girl was Melissa..indian heritage..we did send a couple of letters to each other but unfortunately we're missed placed and now it's like finding a needle in a hay stack..I don't no if this is gona get me any where..but gota start sme where I supose

Brian Patterson
3 September 2021 6:11pm

Anybody Fairfield College 1970--1971...especially 71... 6th Form Year...or Guys that rode Motorcycles to School & parked in the Y Block Car-park...

Susan williamson
20 July 2021 2:34pm

Island bay school ,in the 1950 it’s lived in high street with her aunt and uncle, love to catch up , Jennifer ritchie

JOHN BERCICH
13 July 2021 11:44am

PHOTO 1959 PAPAKURA HIGH SCHOOL

Ishvar MIstry
12 July 2021 7:47pm

I m looking for friends of dad who's name is rama dahya he attended south karori school around 1957 he is looking for his friends
Denise white
Harry shackhel
Harvey Eastwood
We might have the wrong spelling of the surname can anyone please help to find to these people
Thank you

Sean Turner
23 June 2021 2:01am

I’m looking for the photo of Tawa kindergartens groups year 1968 or 1969 also Tawa holy communion photo of children years was 1969 between 197Os Tawa junior Soccer team under 12 or 13 years was 1977 between 1979
hope to hear from you

Sharron
14 June 2021 6:33pm

Ross Nixon

Sharron
14 June 2021 6:32pm

Musselburgh school Dunedin

Craig Hood
13 June 2021 8:44pm

I have just found my big sister who I lost touch with in the 90's. She is on LinkedIn & Twitter 100% it's her but hasn't checked the sites in about a year. How can I get through to her? (Michelle J Hood) Desperate to find my sister.

Liz Regan
11 June 2021 9:51pm

Looking for Richard Holmes born 5th November 1948. In Dunedin

Trixie Cooper Nathan
10 June 2021 5:46pm

Find mauku primary school 1957

Anita van Tol ( van Zoelen)
7 June 2021 10:33pm

Looking for my friend Anne Inwood who used to live in Woodlands Park. We attended school also in Woodlands Park in the 60’s.

Remco meybaum
23 April 2021 1:48pm

Looking for bruse miller of Christchurch who went to bishpdale school in 1974

JUNE ZALOUMIS
28 March 2021 5:15pm

Would love to know whereabouts of Marlene Pullen married name Wichman who has since remarried name not known worked at the old General Telegraph Bureau post office in Wellington featherston street in 1965

Marlene Pullen/Wichman
28 March 2021 5:08pm

Have lost contact since 1967

Margaret Purnell
17 February 2021 6:53am

Would like to find an old friend , Anthony Wynne , from Bristol, he emigrated to Christchurch in 1966. He was a friend of my brothers, George Purnell.Would be good to catch up and see what we’ve both been up to after all these years.

John
15 February 2021 10:31pm

Bank of New Zealand Riccarton Branch

Noel Hair
28 January 2021 3:59pm

would love to find others from Manurewa intermediate 1969-1970

Billy Shrum
21 January 2021 11:02am

Worked in New Zealand for the telecommunications in 1989-1992 went all over the country and loved it I remember a lot of first names but no last ones met a lot of good people would like to return soon

Terry newman
22 November 2020 11:59pm

I would like to find an old friend , new-brighton,
Around 1969 Barry Gilbert whom was working as a
Upholster.
Would like to catch up.

Bronwyn Landers
20 November 2020 12:01pm

Trying to trace old London friend from 1976-77 just to see how life has been for them. His name was Robert “Snowy” (I have forgotten last name,) from Dunedin and his birthday was in December so would be 69 this year. We met in London at the Old Swan pub in Nottinghill and later in Germany where he worked for a while. Love to catch up for old times sake.

Angela Day
19 November 2020 9:16pm

Dear Sir/Madam,...
Hello, I've been trying to find a specific ole school girl friend, her name was Susan Elizabeth Blowers,...we both attended all 3. Schools together, Roslyn Primary School, Ross Intermediate & Freyberg High School, Palmerston North New Zealand,...she did marry, but I wasn't told of this so many a few years ago, now, & I'm wanting to know if she is still living or not, also, she was an only child of,...Mr.Mrs. John Frederick & Gertrude Daisy Blowers,...
I would love to know her whereabouts if she can be found,...or if she's even still in N.Z. or not.
ThankYou
Angela Day.
(Nee Kendall).

Ian Macleod
8 November 2020 3:05am

I was the base cook at Scott base Antarctica for the 1975/6 season, I am trying to trace a friend who was the storeman, Mervin Bird, NZ Army at the time, Thank you

Judy Bishop
6 November 2020 11:25pm

Judy Bishop and my Wife Ruth were best friends back in the 60s totally inseparable old school friends & hanging out together she lost touch with her in the 70s and has always said i wonder where she is or what has happened to her she lived in a Cul-De-Sac in Glendowie Troy Crt or Troy place i said i would try to find her for you one day
i can remember she had 2 brothers William(Bill) & Stephen & Stephen went to a boys correctional place in the 60s i think it was Waikeria .
Hoping you can shed some light cheers
Graeme thanks

Adam Palmer
3 November 2020 11:56pm

Hi I went to hastings boys high school in hawkes bay and had a friend named Melanie Brown and she went to hastings girls high.. this was in the year 2001. I'm keen to see how she is. Thanks

Damian Harper
10 October 2020 8:43pm

Hi I went to Otahuhu collage between 1985 to 1987 and looking for any class photos and I was in Hobson 2 at Otahuhu collage and photos from Hobson House and of the school at that time. That would be greatly appreciated thanks and you can contact me via email & messager Facebook and anyone who I knew at the time. Regards Damian

Damian Harper
10 October 2020 8:25pm

Hi I went to Otahuhu collage between 1985 to 1987 and looking for any class photos and I was in Hobson 2 at Otahuhu collage and photos from Hobson House and of the school at that time. That would be greatly appreciated thanks and you can contact me via email & messager Facebook and anyone who I knew at the time. Regards Damian

James benjamin
8 October 2020 10:02pm

Looking for a friend called Sarah Thompson, rosebank road primary. Avondale Auckland, 1983 ,84... ???our class teacher was called. MR Crawford. Desperately seeking Sarah Thompson. Lived on St georges st.

Allan Hickman
4 October 2020 10:21pm

Looking for Anthony Long and Peter Bowker. Kapiti College around 1964

Bob Tweeddale
27 September 2020 12:08pm

Looking for any one with the surname Tweeddale

Roberta Gray (Reynolds)
22 September 2020 11:20pm

looking for Glenis Lindsay who went to Mt Roskill Grammar in the 1950/60's and went to Sydney on the Canberra with me in 1965. Glenis would now be 75.

R P
31 August 2020 2:11am

If you look carefully above, you will see the website to find all of the 'Oldfriends' website's photos, at this text: "to see if they’d captured the page - they had!"
And strangely, that is not even the NZ National Library website.
Are there no library records for us?

R P
30 August 2020 11:35pm

For everybody wanting to see all of the OldFriends website's photos and info, just click on this:
https://web.archive.org/web/20151226153138/http://www.oldfriends.co.nz/
That should already have been shown to you by the NZ Nat. Lib., but has not for some reason.

Tiaho Mary Pillot
11 March 2020 4:52pm

Was a member of your website in Australia, we have since returned to Aotearoa it saddens me to find that Old Friends has closed down. How may I find old class photos of Tokaanu and Tongariro High School in Turangi? Thank you.

LEENDERT HENDERIKUS DEN BRAVE
17 February 2020 9:59pm

Have some official class photos of south new brighton school and lynwwod intermediate school 1954-1959 1960-1961

LEENDERT HENDERIKUS DEN BRAVE
17 February 2020 9:55pm

1954-1959 South New Brighton School.
1960-1962 Lynwood Intermediate School.
Mid 1962 Moved to USA Calif

Heidi Parker
14 February 2020 1:28pm

Hi there, I am looking for a friend who I was billited out to when I attended Taita Intermediate, Lower Hutt. Her name was Lynne Bryce and she lived in Blenheim. We would have been 12-13 years old at the time. The year was 1972. Anyway, thank you National Library!

Filipe Tamehana
13 February 2020 12:03am

I’m searching for class pic and friends from 1980 to 1982 from Mount Roskill Grammer

Wendy McEwen
29 October 2019 2:49pm

Hi there I lived in Whangarei and attended Whangarei Girls high School, now I live in Invercargill. I am looking for some of my school mates. I was born in 1954.

Roger Inwood
7 October 2019 2:28pm

Keep getting following massage over several days in Oct 2019. User Chrome & Microsft browsers. Still cant access 7 Oct

The URL you are trying to view is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Wayne mackay
6 October 2019 10:05am

Flat bush school photos in the 1970s

Gill Stannard
3 September 2019 11:21pm

Keep getting error message "The URL you are trying to view is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later." Hope the site is still accessible, we're arranging Crofton Downs (Chartwell) School's Jubilee in 2020.

Gwenda lister
8 August 2019 4:01pm

I would like to obtain a copy of my school photo 1066,Otorohanga College,I am a member of the new Old School Friends Thank you

ben
8 August 2019 12:16am

ilove ur site

Andrew Henry
10 July 2019 2:50pm

Great stuff, Gillian!

Gypsy Stockley
26 June 2019 2:21pm

As the person who uploaded the bulk of the 386 photos for Whenuapai School in Auckland I am so grateful that this work has been saved- we did it for the School's 50th Jubilee- it took me forever! Thank you so much National Library team.

Diana Curle
25 June 2019 4:54am

I was so disappointed when this site went and i even pleaded to keep this site. It was a place that I was able to find my friends.

Jennifer Hudson
17 June 2019 7:34pm

Schools NEV, DNI, OGHS
Teachers College Dunedin
Otago University

Darian Zam
17 June 2019 3:24pm

So many are grateful for your work on this. Thank you!