Last year, the Waimarino Arts Awards premier prize was won by Paula Charlton of Horopito.

This year, Paula is the organiser of the awards.

Her win last year had its funny side - she was also the event's MC.

Even though she had entered the awards last year, she was also helping and had been asked to be the MC on the night.


"But when I arrived, one of the women told me I couldn't be the MC that night, but she wouldn't tell me why."

After a mad scramble failed to find anyone to take over the role, Paula had to go on.

"My friend said when it came time to announce the winner I was to hand over the microphone."

Paula said she could not believe she was the winner and it was lovely to have had her friend announce it.

"I really couldn't have announced myself as the winner," she said.

Like many residents throughout the Waimarino, Paula is an import married to a Kiwi.

She originally came from the East Midlands in Britain and was travelling when she met her husband, Jake Fah. Jake, originally from Palmerston North, insisted Paula return home with him to New Zealand.

"But not to Palmerston North," she said.

Jake loved the Ruapehu district and when she saw it she had to agree, she said. "There are no volcanic districts in Britain anywhere."

They first lived in Raetihi before moving to Horopito a few years ago, she said.

Paula said she had always loved art and when she was at home with children she studied art online.

Organising the awards this year has been a challenge, but one she loves.

"The night we hang all the exhibits is like Christmas as we get to unwrap all the entries."

Waimarino Art Awards open at the Royal Theatre in Raetihi on July 6. Held annually in Raetihi, the awards are in their 13th year. The awards are organised by volunteers under the umbrella of the Raetihi Promotions Charitable Trust.

The small entry fee is designed to make the awards as accessible to as many people as possible.

There are awards aimed at all levels from junior (5-13) to young artists and photographers (13-18) and from novice to expert artists.