Prebbleton mother brings creative world of wearable arts to Tai Tapu

FLAIR FOR FASHION: Prebbleton resident Kim Strange is organizing a wearable arts fashion show. Here she is with one of her designs to feature in the show.

Kim Strange, of Prebbleton, is the driving force behind Art Couture NZ’s wearable arts competition in Tai Tapu next month. She spoke to Georgia O’Connor-Harding

Tell me about what made you decide to set up a wearable arts fashion show?

Last year I entered a wearable arts competition. First in Rolleston and then I took my outfit over to Westport. I had a friend that modelled for me and we just had so much fun together. My friend suggested why don’t we do one in Christchurch and it just went from there. Four of us are the main ones behind the show. It has been a big learning curve but we have enjoyed the process. We did it as an opportunity for your regular people to have a go. We are a bit different – we wanted the models to be anybody. We didn’t want people to think models can only be young and tall and thin. We have encouraged the entrants to use their friends and family to model for them.

What is the criteria for the fashion?

It has to be a garment but it can be made out of anything. We have got categories. We have got the sow’s ear, which is our signature category – we created that because we provide the materials. So people pay an extra $50 to enter and we gave them a bag of materials. That included some regular fabrics but also some odd things. Our other one is a recycled category, which is really popular, and the other one is hardware, which involves using anything from a hardware shop. We have got about 30 entrants and Hillmorton High School has entered.

You used to work at the Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters, HIPPY, in Hornby?

I left HIPPY Hornby generally because it was a full-time job. Things happened at home where I needed to be mum at home more. I work at South West Baptist Church. I do administration for a couple of pastors. I am running a conference this week.

We have got seminars with Canadian psychologist Gordon Neufeld and teamed up with West Spreydon School. We’ve had topics on making sense of pre-schoolers, resilience, recovery and relationships, making sense of aggression and the making of a bully. It is for parents or anyone that has worked with young people.

It sounds like you are still working on the well-being of children?

I used to be a teacher and that is why I left early to go work in the community and work with families. Church is good in that respect. We have got so much that goes on here.

Tell me about your teaching career?

I worked mostly in special education when I did teaching. When I first came out of teacher’s college, I worked at Christchurch South Intermediate.

Then I worked as a resource teacher of learning and behaviour where I moved around schools. I did a wee bit at McKenzie Residential School when it was still running. My last teaching position was at Our Lady of the Assumption School in Hoon Hay as a special needs co-ordinator.

What are some of the most important lessons you learned from teaching?

Particularly when I worked in special needs, it is that understanding of kids and behaviour. I have dyslexia that runs through our family – it is about advocating for our kids. And making sure kids actually have what they need to succeed. It is helping kids to realise they are not thick and not dumb. They are often intelligent kids. Most children with dyslexia are creative in some respect.

You have a family of your own?

I have three sons – 18, 16 and 11. They are pretty good teenagers, I can’t complain. I have been married to my husband for 24 years. We met at a youth group sports night a long time ago. Paul works at Canterbury University as a desktop support consultant. He is also an officer at boys’ brigade, which is run out of South West Baptist Church. It is a bit like scouts but it is run through a church and they have probably got about 50 kids involved. He started boys’ brigade when he was 10 and hasn’t left. He is a trustee at Waipara Adventure Centre.

Are you involved with the Prebbleton Community Cottage?

I run a craft group from the cottage. I set that up at the beginning of this year. We have a core group of ladies who come every week and it is lovely because there are a whole lot of women who didn’t know each other before and now they have formed strong friendships.

Is that one of the reasons you decided to set up the group in the first place?

Absolutely. It is because I love craft. I have inherited a love of craft from my mother Dawn Hansen. It is kind of another thing to do with mental health, connecting in the community and getting to know each other. We run workshops – I ran a mosaic one recently and we have had a photography workshop.

You spoke about your mother being interested in the arts. Tell me about her?

Absolutely, she has been in craft groups for years, too. She made my Irish dancing dress when I did Irish dancing as a kid. That is something I will always treasure. I have got it hanging up. She hand-embroidered it and everything. I have got lots of heirloom types of things from Mum.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Halswell. We only moved to Prebbleton just before the February 22, 2011, earthquake – four days before. Our new house got a little damage, we were very fortunate. Prebbleton is lovely, it is such a nice community.

Do you have any top places you would like to travel to?

Oh yes, Paul and I went to Africa before we had children. Now we have the desire to go to Europe and the United Kingdom, which we have never been to. One of our sons has a friend who moved to France, so we would love to go visit them.

What part of Africa did you go to?

We started in Kenya and went down the east coast and down to South Africa. We did a camping safari. We stayed in tents all the way through. We did feel safe and we did it through a proper organised tourist group. You don’t feel that unsafe, a part from when you are in the big cities. We had good guides. We still have a lot of things in our house from Africa.

You got to see a lot of wild animals, what were some of your most vivid memories?

Probably once when we saw some lions which had just killed a zebra. That was something that will stay with us. We walked quite close to the elephants and rhinoceros. You had to be careful what side you walked on them, they ran remarkably fast too. The tour guides had to let people at the South Luangwa National Park know we were there so they wouldn’t shoot us. They might think you are poachers. If you wanted to go to the toilet at night, you had to shine your torch around in case there were any lions. Each camp site had guards there over night who had bow and arrows or whatever to keep you safe.

•Art Couture NZ wearable arts competition will be held at The Vineyard at Rossendale, 100 Old Tai Tapu Rd, Tai Tapu. For more information, go to