"I don't want people to be lonely or not have any friends," 9-year-old Noelle Tito says.

"Because I have got three very good friends at my school and I like to play with them every day."

And so Noelle, an amazingly selfless and eloquent young girl from Pyes Pa, came up with a plan – a friendship festival.

On Saturday, after months of organising, about 100 people from her neighbourhood, her school and her church took part in an evening full of fun with performances, food, face painting, a bouncy castle, a mums and bubs area, and even a visit from Mr Whippy.


Noelle, who goes to Tauranga Adventist School, worded and personally hand-delivered all the invitations so she could meet the people she was inviting.

On the night of the festival, she gave a welcome speech.

But how did she come up with the idea?

"I was thinking about people who didn't have anyone, didn't know anyone," Noelle says.

"Maybe they're new to the city or something like that."

During her interview with the Bay of Plenty Times yesterday, she was quick to give credit to her "committee" of helpers – her friends, parents, grandparents, brothers and others.

Noelle also wanted to mention that SuperValue Pyes Pa had donated money for the event "and were very generous" and so had the Tauranga City Council through its community development match fund.

She also asked everyone that came to the friendship festival to donate food items for the Tauranga Community Foodbank and, on Tuesday, delivered them there herself.


The festival also gave a cash donation to the foodbank.

Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin says she could not quite believe her eyes and ears when she met Noelle.

"What a little treasure with big dreams and plans for helping others. She is only 9, yet seems to have such a strong comprehension of community issues and obviously has an amazingly supportive family behind her helping her help others."

Nine-year-old Noelle Tito is a small girl with a big mind and heart. Photo/George Novak
Nine-year-old Noelle Tito is a small girl with a big mind and heart. Photo/George Novak

Noelle says some people do not have enough money to make Christmas special and she wanted to help with that.

"If they just have bread, butter and milk for supper for Christmas, then it doesn't really make it very special, but if they have maybe some meat and maybe some other stuff, it does make it special and also they need money to buy presents for Christmas."

Thanks to everyone that came to the festival, two washing baskets as well as some extra boxes were filled with food donations for the foodbank.

"It does make me feel very good," Noelle says.

She wanted her idea to be bigger than just the festival and wanted it to reach and benefit other people, her mum Jen says.

"She blew everybody away with how she had this idea from the beginning of the year and she just stuck with it for the whole year.

"She formed a committee and from there planned all the details for the festival, with their help."

She says Noelle wants to host a friendship festival every year now and is grateful for the generosity of this year's attendees.

Noelle quickly adds: "Maybe in five years like half of New Zealand will be there."

Jen says the idea to include the foodbank donations came from recognising that life was not easy for everyone all the time and could be particularly difficult at Christmas time.

"Noelle wanted to ensure people experiencing financial difficulties could still have a fun and special time at Christmas. She also wanted to extend who the festival would benefit, from those in her neighbourhood and suburb to the wider Tauranga community.

"Noelle has such a heart for helping people and hopefully others will be inspired by her."

This reporter definitely was.