Ten Hawera High School students have gone to the school ball - with help from a special fairy godmother and the Hawera community.
In April, Hawera mum Rochelle ("Rocky") Steer who runs Kai Kitchen, supplying lunches for kids who turn up at school without them, had a mission.
Her mission was to ensure all the Year 13 girls and boys at Hawera High School went to the school ball on June 11, whether their parents could afford to send them or not.
"I remember when my daughter went to the school ball, it was an incredible expense."
She said her mission was always to help "kids who need a break, and there's more out there than you would realise".
She'd always known the town had families on the breadline, struggling to survive, Rocky said.
After putting a request up on her Kai Kitchen Facebook page, the message went around the country.
The result was that, for five girls, she received 86 ball gowns sent from as far away as Auckland and Dunedin.
"So I think I'll set up a ball gown hire service now, and put the money into Kai Kitchen."
On the day of the ball, June 11, she had her 10 students (five girls and five boys) turn up at midday at the Tairoa cottage, which is part of the five-star Tairoa Lodge in Hawera.
The day was gorgeous, Rocky said. "Everyone was so excited, including me."
First up was a lunch provided by Rocky and other volunteers.
Then the girls were shipped off to a beauty studio in town, where three hairdressers, two from New Plymouth and one from Stratford, gave their time and skills for the afternoon to fashion hairstyles, polish and manicure nails, and make-up the young girls.
"They all looked so beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes."
After the boys were given swish haircuts and dressed in suits, they started behaving like "different kids".
At 6pm, a fleet of "fabulous" locally owned cars pulled up. "And off they went, all went looking fabulous."
However, there was one drawback reported after the big night, Rocky said. "Two of the boys had had such fun getting ready they found the ball itself boring."
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