Snow Queen Helen Yuretich and friends

Snow Queen Helen Yuretich and friends

I’ve shared before on the immense power and importance of volunteers in our communities. The Storylines Family Fun Day at Te Ahu on Saturday, August 17th was a shining tribute to the volunteer. Countless hours of preparation went into readying for the event. It wouldn’t even have happened but for the initiative and incredibly hard work of one person, Helen Yuretich. Her reward, as with all volunteers, is in the giving. But Helen and all the volunteers on the day deserve our votes of thanks.

Visitors to Storylines were perplexed to discover the community complex’s carparks were both full on what turned out to be a wild weather day. Once they found a place to park everyone was rewarded with a dynamic collage of activities spread throughout the building (and even outside in the case of the donkeys). No one could claim there wasn’t something of interest or inspiration for children or for the adults who accompanied them.

Stephen Yuretich entertaining children with donkey

Stephen Yuretich entertaining children with donkey

Storylines is New Zealand’s oldest annual literary festival, bringing together authors and illustrators with thousands of their young readers and supportive adults for the past twenty years. For those twenty years Storylines has been held in major centres around the country and for roughly the past six years Storylines has been celebrated in Northland as well. For the first time this year Storylines took place in Kaitaia. What a privilege and a treat for everyone concerned!

But again it couldn’t happen without the huge input of volunteers. Just to give one example, six face painters worked non-stop for the duration of the festival in Kaitaia. Students from Kaitaia College circulated throughout the building, providing information where needed and in some cases wearing costumes that children (and many adults) loved. Council staff volunteered their time as did teachers, individuals and in some cases entire families. The work for some was far from glamorous but people gave of their time willingly and with a smile..

For those of you who missed out on the event here is just a little recap. Children’s authors read aloud in the library. The atrium saw a near-continuous flow of entertainment from pianists, through Kaitaia College music students and a group that sang to their own ukulele accompaniment.

Facepainting

Facepainting

The main hall provided lots of arts and crafts, factopia, drum and didgeridoo lessons and even the opportunity to see illustrators at work. And the little theatre was host to one performance after another, each before a large audience.

Two thousand people passed the door counter in the library on the day. Although not an entirely accurate measure, this statistic alone indicates just how busy it was at Te Ahu for Storylines on Saturday, August 17th.  I for one would welcome the challenge of having this great annual event return to Kaitaia in the future, hopefully sooner than later.

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com

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