Wen Xiong is a Whanganui early childhood teacher and "story catcher", who presents her tales at local schools and kindergartens as Wen's Story Den.
The trained chef, former magazine editor and mother of two will next be in action at the Whanganui Regional Museum as part of their Mythical, Mysterious and Magical Creatures Night.
She donned her hat and robe to answer 10 quickfire questions from Mike Tweed.
What brought you to Whanganui?
My husband and I moved here from New Plymouth. Whanganui wasn't on our list, but he got a job at UCOL so away we went. We'd never been here before and we didn't have any friends, but having kids is a good way to meet people when you're new in town. Whanganui didn't have such a good reputation back then, but I love it here.
What is your favourite thing to do in Whanganui?
I love to go to different op shops to find props and things to make my puppets out of. I've got eight full boxes in our spare room. I think when I'm 80 or 90 I'll start my own shop, because I'll have so much stuff by then,
As a storyteller, what is your secret to keeping children engaged?
Eye contact is a big one, and choosing the right stories for different age groups. If you add poos, wees and farts into classic stories, then they'll love it. I'm not really a spiritual person, but I believe there's an energy when humans interact with each other. Storytelling can be a ceremony or a ritual, like going to the cinema and escaping from life for a little while. You have to immerse your audience in your story.
What inspired you to start your story den?
Some people, like me, were always confused about what they wanted to do with their lives. When you're praised for doing something you tend to stick with it, even if it's not the right path for you, but I kept all the bits and pieces of my life when I discovered storytelling. I found the thread, so now they've become a necklace. I wanted to do something that scared me and go right out of my comfort zone. I definitely achieved that.
What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
Go and have some fun, and don't study so much. You'll forget most of the stuff you're studying anyway. Definitely read more books that aren't textbooks too. In China, there were so many exams that we never had parties or anything exciting like that.
If there was one thing you could change about Whanganui, what would it be?
I'd like to see more trees and native bush being planted. We could plant more fruit trees too. I'd love to see community vegetable gardens in each suburb. There are big fields everywhere, like the one next to Whanganui East school for example, so there could be a little part of each one to grow vegetables on.
Which event from history would you most like to have been at?
I'm getting a bit mythological here, but it would be fun to go back to ancient Egypt when their god Ra created the world. It's different from the Chinese creation story, or any other creation story. Ra made both of his children by sneezing, and then they got lost in the darkness. He sent an eye out to find them and when his children finally came back he cried tears of joy. Those tears became us - human beings.
What would you like to see Whanganui look like in 50 years?
In 50 years, Whanganui will have 90 per cent coverage of passive housing which is affordable for everyone, and there'll be community permaculture gardens all over the place.
What do you think is Whanganui's best-kept secret?
I have this little community of friends who support each other, mentally and physically. We are a tribe. Hopefully everyone has their own little village of people, because it's really important, especially when you become a parent.
Both your sons play drums, your husband plays guitar, and you've been known to release the odd rap song. What are the chances of starting a family band?
I would love to, and I've actually got a name for it, "Boylin Boys plus One". There would be so many conflicts though. Charlie (Boylin, Xiong's husband) is into Jimi Hendrix and hard rock, I'm into African drums and fiddles, and our sons are into horrible pop music.