Christmas has arrived in Central Hawke's Bay with a 5m tall Christmas tree erected in Waipukurau on Monday, adorned with almost 1000 crochet "granny" squares handmade by the district's crafters.
The bright tree is the brain-child of the Waipukurau Arts and Crafts Incorporated wool craft representative, Lesleigh Albury, who presented a small, indoor crochet tree to the group in February this year.
"What started out as an idea for a minor project suddenly became something much more," Albury said.
"Once the decision to create a large, outdoor tree was made, through word of mouth we very quickly started receiving hundreds of granny squares made by locals wanting to help. The quality of the crochet has been staggeringly good."
Officially opened by Central Hawke's Bay mayor Alex Walker at a celebration on Monday afternoon, Walker is proud to see the magic that community spirit can bring to Central Hawke's Bay.
"Our Crochet Christmas Tree is an exceptional example of our community talents being encouraged and enabled by the Creative Communities funding scheme. The ladies from Waipukurau Arts and Crafts are an inspiration and their magnificent creation has truly brought the Christmas spirit to town."
Established 50 years, Waipukurau Arts and Crafts Incorporated is home to several groups who meet to craft, chat and socialise. Eight members of the wool craft group crocheted most of the squares, including member Jan Heyward who was instrumental in the planning of the tree. Many more crafters came on board to help with the project by crocheting, sewing, or donating wool.
"There's been a real sense of fellowship throughout this project," Albury said.
"We've come together on weekends to bring the tree to life, with lots of chocolate cake and lots of coffee to hand. It's just been fun."
Albury describes herself as fascinated by the global yarn-bombing movement. During planning stages, the group formed a relationship with St Mark's Parish in Farnborough, England, who have created their own version of a crochet Christmas tree.
In a show of global unity, a selection of granny squares crocheted by St Mark's crafters are sewn into Central Hawke's Bay's tree, while in return several of the Central Hawke's Bay community squares were sent to St Mark's Parish.
Largely funded by the Creative Communities Scheme, the internal structure of the tree has been designed to be reused annually, with the external piece able to change year by year.
"This is a tree for everybody in the community to enjoy," Albury said.
"The structure has been built to make sure it will hold the weight of not only our project, but any other project that follows."
Waipukurau local Tom Henderson spent four months building the framework in his shed.
"A lot of people will get pleasure out of this tree," Henderson said. "It's nice and strong and it'll be able to be used again and again in the community".
The Crochet Christmas Tree will be on display at the Green Patch in Waipukurau until late January 2020.
The Christmas spirit in CHB continues this weekend with the annual Christmas Parade in Waipukurau's main street on Saturday, starting at 11am and followed by a Christmas Carnival at Russell Park Waipukurau, with live music, a visit from Santa, bouncy castles and fire truck rides.