Top artist inspires from ranks of Kiwi achievers

By Nathan Crombie

Former Masterton woman Susan Harrison-Tustain says she is humbled to be counted among the stellar list of Kiwis making up the inspirational book The Power Of Us - New Zealanders Who Dare to Dream.

Harrison-Tustain, 56, who is an internationally successful watercolour and oil artist and art tutor, features in the book alongside 50 fellow Kiwis, two of whom share Wairarapa links.

They include Masterton tetraplegic and former champion equestrian Catriona Williams, and award-winning Greytown film-maker Vincent Ward.

Credits for the 312-page hardback book, which was launched in Auckland last week, are shared by Sir Ray Avery, a pharmaceutical scientist, inventor and social entrepreneur, television journalist Cameron Bennett and photographer Adrian Malloch.

The Power of Us is described as a celebration of high-achieving Kiwis drawn from all fields - science, business, writing, film, sport, art, and technology - who took risks, refused to quit and committed themselves to helping others and making a difference.

Direct-quote interviews and black-and-white images sketch the Antipodean essence of celebrities such as Sam Neill, Rhys Darby, Barbara Kendall, Neil Finn and Dame Susan Devoy, and the Kiwi character of "lesser-known but equally talented" New Zealanders.

Harrison-Tustain said the book revealed a glimpse of Kiwi achievement that was inspirational in its rawness.

"The interviews are gritty, probing and focused on what makes us tick as Kiwis, [about how] our own New Zealand experience gave us the courage to believe in ourselves."

Harrison-Tustain shares in the book her story of surviving breast cancer 17 years ago and, in the same year, writing the best-selling book Glorious Garden Flowers in Watercolor, for a United States publisher and market.

Her book opened doors to a successful international career, she said, and her battle with cancer "made me realise I didn't have time to build confidence or talk myself out of things - I just had to do it".

She said her art began at the kitchen table of her Masterton family home and was nurtured by her father, George, late mother Florence and second mother Doreen Harrison.

"Kiwis celebrate innovation, invention and creativity because we're a young country devoid of centuries of establishment rules, constraints and regimented traditions. We're more free than other countries to experiment and push the boundaries," she said.

"My parents encouraged me when I was drawing at the kitchen table, and I am privileged to now have a career that takes me around the world.

"We're all just ordinary Kiwis but we are all allowed to make dreams of the extraordinary come true, and we are shown that the seeds of achievement are all around us."

The Power Of Us - New Zealanders Who Dare to Dream is published by Random House and sells for $49.99 a copy, with royalties from sales going to Medicine Mondiale, Sir Ray Avery's worldwide charity that manages a global network of experts who donate their knowledge to develop medical solutions.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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