Bay of Plenty residents nominated for Pride of NZ Awards

By Ruth Keber

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Jan and Rick Ormsby run a dancing group every Thursday night. Photo/Rebecca Cawston
Jan and Rick Ormsby run a dancing group every Thursday night. Photo/Rebecca Cawston

Several Bay of Plenty residents are being nominated to receive a Pride of New Zealand Award. Reporter Ruth Keber catches up with two local nominees.

Stephen Graveson Community Spirit category

Katikati's Stephen Graveson has been the man behind the scenes of Katikati Open-Air Art since the 1990s. The non-profit voluntary community organisation creates and promotes outdoor artworks including murals and sculptures to enhance Katikati as a place to live and visit.

President and project manager of the KOAA Mr Graveson said it was his former art teacher, June Carlton, who cunningly tapped him on the shoulder to get involved with the group.

"She had this very good knack at getting you involved with things when you least expected it," he said.

Almost 20 years on Mr Graveson has been responsible for a number of new murals being painted in the town and now restoration of the older ones.

Mr Graveson said he first got involved with the project in 1996 had been project manager since about 1999.

The was project started to rejuvenate pride in the past, present and the future when the town was going through a really bad patch, he said.

"They were looking at doing a by-pass, the kiwifruit industry had suffered a huge downturn because of the share market crash so the town really wasn't in a good state."

Since being on the committee Mr Graveson helped to complete the 40th mural "pukeko kid" in 2001 and the erection of the "Katikati Muraltown" road signs in 2007. In 2009 he was the winner of the Trustpower Western Bay of Plenty Community award and runner up the year after, in 2011 the 50th mural "anglican church" was unveiled and in 2013 the town came fourth in the New Zealand Mural Contest and Arts Festival.

Mr Graveson had helped paint one mural himself, and the background of another.

He said each of the murals had a little part of Katikati history in them.

"That's one of our philosophies is it has to have a historic slant to it, what we are doing is portraying Katikati's history in a visual way."

Jan and Rick OrmsbyCommunity Spirit Category

Jan and Rick Ormsby have been dancing up a storm in the Bay for the last 20 years.

For the past 10 years the pair have run the Sunshine Dance Club, a combined sequence dance group, teaching hundreds of people twirls and turns of different dances.

Sequence Dancing is a couples dance form that has its origins in the centuries-old stately Gavottes and Minuets.

The Sunshine Dance Club runs a weekly program which teaches new dances to people from March to November.

The couple took over the classes in 2004 with numbers of attendees regularly exceeding 60 and a few classes with more than 90.

Mr Ormsby said the couple initially got into dancing as a way to be more active.

"We had been working so much and we were getting a bit older, we didn't have very many friends and we didn't have much in the way of entertainment so we tried sequence and we quite enjoyed it and stayed on ever since."

Since their involvement the Western Bay of Plenty is now one of the strongest areas in New Zealand for sequence dancing.

Mr Ormsby, now 73 and who has undergone a triple bypass, said they would continue on with the group for as long as they could.

"I'm slowing down a little now even, but I am still going and dancing is a good way of meeting people, we've had several people come, meet partners and been married over the years.

"The exercise, both your body and your mind, comradeship and entertainment is what it is."

Make your nominations at prideofnzawards.co.nz.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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