Celebrate it, bemoan it or ignore it-Halloween is creeping up. Although October 31 falls on a Monday this year, Bay of Plenty locals are planning to mark the date (or disregard it) in ways embracing darkness and light, pretend evil and real goodness.48 Hours reporter Dawn Picken takes us beyond costumes and makeup to the reasons we celebrate or shun Halloween.

LAYLA ROBINSON says her whole life is a costumed affair.

"Any excuse we have to dress up, we want to do it," Ms Robinson says.

She is part of Rotorua's roller derby squad, the Sulphur City Steam Rollers. The team are hosting an inaugural Halloween-themed event at the Sportsdrome on October 29.


"We're all into the horror genre . . . unless we organise a little party, there's nothing to
do in Rotorua."

The team is encouraging families to come in costume to watch them play the Pirate City Rollers from Auckland. The event features halftime performances, lollies and prizes for best dressed kids and adults.

"We're more of the Halloween where we dress to thrill, so we're looking forward to seeing some very scary costumes."

Over in the Western Bay, in Pongakawa, half of Ruby Neverman's face isamolten mess of flesh and blood. Her forehead looks gashed, and her grey-blue eyes are ringed
with purplish bruises. At least, that's how she looks in photos her mum posted on social media.

The injuries are fake; the face mask is Ruby's creation.

Ruby Neverman, 12, of Pongakawa is making her own latex to create special effects make-up such as zombie masks. 48 Hours. Photo/George Novak.
Ruby Neverman, 12, of Pongakawa is making her own latex to create special effects make-up such as zombie masks. 48 Hours. Photo/George Novak.

In her latest piece, her goldpainted face unzips to reveal a triangle of raw, red flesh.
Ruby started dressing up to attend festivals with her parents ever since she can remember. Now, the 12-year old Pongakawa student is experimenting for Halloween.

She recently decided to try making her own latex using gelatin, coconut oil, cornflour and water. "I had to look up how to make a mask and then it came down to the
ingredients I needed. Then I played it by heart and decided how to make it," Ruby said.

She'll likely dress as a zombie on October 31, she says. It took her two or three attempts to create her mask.

"I used latex to mould it and had to separate cotton balls to make it look like the mouth is more of that creepy effect."

Meanwhile, creepy creativity is getting 12-year-old Ruby Neverman recognition.

Her media and film teacher from Pongakawa School visited Weta Workshop in Wellington recently, showing staff members Ruby's latex masks. She says they were so impressed; they want to see a portfolio of her work.

"I was sort of speechless. I plan to do some different types of latex . . . I want to make
something that isn't so gruesome."

Mum Hayley Whistler studied fashion design and says she'll let Ruby choose her Halloween outfit from the household costume chest. Ms Whistler says no one on her rural street was trick-ortreating when the family first moved to the Western Bay.

"Over eight years it has become a big thing. People now wait and hide out and play tricks on us. All the little kids would follow on to the next place and the next place."

She says the evening has become a social activity for the neighbours, some of whom call to ask when her family is coming.

Belinda Roddick of Tauranga has spent the past nine years wowing friends and
family with her Halloween spooky house. Her husband and sons, ages 7 and 9, help decorate-hanging heads, spider webs and body bags stuffed with newspaper. She even splatters the inside of her home with fake blood and hangs red light bulbs from the ceiling.

"Last year, we got the kids to come around and lie on the driveway. We painted chalk around them and had dislocated bits-blood and guts-all over . . . "

Ms Roddick, who'sa Kiwi, says her Halloween tradition grew from a conversation between her and husband, Charlie.

"We said we really need to do something different so the kids have a family tradition that's just our family. We love dressing up . . . and didn't know anyone else who did it [Halloween] in Tauranga. It just got bigger and bigger every year."

Ms Roddick hosted a party for 65 (mostly adult) friends, family and neighbours last year.

They'll host again on October 29. Belinda is six months pregnant and can't resist incorporating her bump in dressing up.

"I'm going to have baby doll bits hanging off me."

She visits op shops for costume pieces and props. Other options for dress-up supplies and ideas include two dollar shops, costume shops and retail outlets.

The Warehouse merchandise GM Jenny Epke says: "We are expecting Halloween sales to really heat up from this weekend. We have products for all tastes, whether it is a traditional 'scary' costume or a superhero or princess . . . "

The Warehouse earlier this week stocked full children's costumes such as a spunky monkey, scary skeleton and little pumpkin for as little as $10, plus adult costumes such
as the Grim Reaper, starting at $12. For more variety and costumes for hire, Rotorua's Victoria Grove offers everything from tutus, to corsets to Freddy Krueger and Darth Vader dress-ups. Deb Rowles has owned the shop for 12 years and says Halloween is still a last-minute occasion for many of her customers and the most outfits on display are for adults.

"We've got a big short and sexy section that people seem to like a lot . . . parents tend to buy children's costumes much more than they used to."

Prices range from $30 to $65 for a weekend rental. The shop also hires coffins ($25) and has an online catalogue. Alternatives to trick-ortreating include church parties and roller derby.

Bethlehem Baptist church is holding its annual October event, called Glow Disco Light Party on October 31 from 5.30pm to 7.30pm. Children's ministries leader Pat Thomson says the party is open to anyone; the church distributed lollie bags to 450 children last year.

"We're not hugely anti- [Halloween] or anything. It's just a beautiful opportunity for those parents who don't want to go trick-or-treating, but whose kids want to."

The party is geared for children ages 0 through Year 6.

Greerton Bible Church is also hosting a Light Party for children ages 12 and younger.

A message on social media asking about attitudes towards Halloween garnered 23 replies in less than 24 hours. Some residents will welcome kids in costume to their homes, while others reject Halloween outright.

Lynn Cunningham wrote: "I have taken my kids out here and was confused as to why so many people are against it. It's just a bit of harmless fun for the kids to get dressed up and have a laugh."

Esther Irwin says she thinks it's a "horrible thing" to teach children to beg for candy while telling them to avoid strangers.

"I'm so sorry that Halloween made its way to New Zealand. We lock up and turn the lights off."

Roller Derby Spooktacular Sportsdrome, Rotorua. Saturday, October 29, 6-9pm. steamrollers.co.nz
Haunted House Halloween Party Energy Events Centre, Rotorua. Saturday, October 29, 7pm. eventfinda.co.nz

Halloween's Celtic origins
Halloween is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints' Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain.

The evening before was known as All Hallows' Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community based event characterised by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating.

■ Source: www.history.com