An all-wāhine band has top billing for the first Kaumātua Ball in Foxton tomorrow night.

Band members Celia Frape (drums), Mere Ropata-Box (bass), Nina Pilkington (musical director, lead vocalist, rhythm guitar) and Alley Shaw (lead guitar) are accomplished musicians who have each appeared in numerous other bands in the past.

But rarely together as an all-woman band.

Pilkington said in the past they usually had to "borrow a man" for lead guitar, but when Alley Shaw joined it gave the band a different energy.

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"It's lovely. For one, we've got patience. We can go over and over a song until it's right," she said.

Since forming Sparkles, the band was seldom without an engagement. The gigs just keep coming, helped by the fact they are able to adapt to any type of occasion with a wide range of musical genres in their bag.

Shaw was influenced by The Shadows, while Ropata-Box had her roots in reggae. Pilkington came from a blues and jazz background, while Frape loved country music.

Pilkington said for the Kaumātua Ball they would be playing traditional Gay gordons, fox trots and waltzes, and could speed up or slow down the tempo as required.

"We are really excited," she said.

Celia Frape (drums), Mere Ropapta-Box (bass), Nina Pilkington(musical director, lead vocalist, rhythm guitar) Alley Shaw (lead guitar).
Celia Frape (drums), Mere Ropapta-Box (bass), Nina Pilkington(musical director, lead vocalist, rhythm guitar) Alley Shaw (lead guitar).

Meanwhile, organiser Anne Watson from Foxton said the genesis for the ball was to show respect for the elders in the community by treating them to a night of socialising and entertainment.

"It was something that had come up so we said 'let's have a ball'," she said.

"It's in honour of the elderly. It is really important to acknowledge our elders and what they have done for us in the community."

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Most people coming are aged more than 60. Many were aged in their 80s. The oldest person attending is 93, she said.

Among those on the guest list was Dame Tariana Turia, former co-leader of the Māori Party, and Foxton kaumātua kuia o te Awahou Piki Maunga-McFaddyn.

Sparkles rehearse for the upcoming Kaumatua Ball in Foxton tomorrow night.
Sparkles rehearse for the upcoming Kaumatua Ball in Foxton tomorrow night.

"It's for all elderly people in our community. I'm waiting for Māori TV to come back to me, to see if they can send a team down," she said.

The ball would be held at the Manawatū College Hall tomorrow night, with people coming from Shannon, Foxton, Ōtaki and Palmerston North.

Organisers thanked Wheelhouse Bar, Horowhenua District Council, Haumaru ki te Awahou, New World Foxton, Te Awahou Funeral Directors, Manawatū College, Joe and Caroline Borck, Raukawa Māori Wardens, Te Awahou Māori Welfare Women's League and Te Waiora Health Centre.