Hanging up her hat

Holly Jane Ewens is to step down from her role as Paekākāriki.nz coordinating editor. A heartfilled thank you from many of us.

There’s something missing in my life that I would hazard may be missing from yours, too.  I want to be shown the wonders of Holly Jane Ewens’ hat room. She has to have one tucked away in her whare somewhere. She wears far too many (metaphorical) hats to just cast them off onto her retro occasional table, or up onto that musty shelf above the clothes in her wardrobe. Somewhere there must be a room full of them: some whimsical, some thoughtful, all fabulous, all immaculately designed and all most  definitely-organised-the-hell-out-of.

Image: Ebony Lamb

While Holly continues to wear many hats – mother, musician, artist, writer, teacher, chair of our community board and trustee of the Paekākāriki Housing Trust among them  – it’s time as a village to say a heartful haere rā to the particularly amazeballs hat she has been wearing since 2019 as the founding coordinating editor of this website. 

Holly has been part of the whānau creating Paekakariki.nz from the very beginning, back in 2016 when it was just a sparkle in Managing Editor Mark Amery’s eye. With NZTA about to finally grace our region with Transmission Gully, Paekākāriki’s businesses and community groups would need to be ready and we’d need landing place for visiting parrots to perch. Holly agreed, and a group was gathered who met for many evenings (eating far too much cheese) to develop this website. It was the natural next step to follow award-winning newspaper Paekakariki Xpressed, giving whānau and friends of Paekākāriki (residing here or not) a place to share our stories, our people, our places, our taonga.

Fast forward to 2019 ahead of a ‘soft launch’ of the site with the village: time to recruit an editor to take it from a soft downy chick into a soaring kākāriki. Holly’s tower of hats wasn’t quite yet at teetering point, so she applied, was successful and came into the role full of heart, ideas, commitment and editorial rigour. 

Holly’s tenure started with Paekākāriki.nz having one or two stories, a clutch of walks and bike rides and community pages, beautiful images from Mark Coote and other resident photographers, a smattering of events in the calendar and the beginnings of a directory. In two short years, Holly leaves us an archive of thoughtful stories, all written by Paekākāriki residents and covering a broad range of topics: from tamariki learning Te Reo, to profiles of Paekākāriki personalities; from environmental issues affecting the village, to local politics; from Transmission Gully to thriving with mental health challenges. It has a busy directory, full of information about the clubs, groups and businesses we have here. It has a place just for poetry and it has an events calendar buzzing with activity. It shares all the latest news from our Community Board, and provides residents easy ways to engage with them. 

Holly’s a humble hat wearer; very much a team player. I am praising her for all the hard mahi she has contributed to making the website sing, but if I gave her the right of reply (I’m not going to), she’d reiterate how much of a team effort the website is and has been. And she’s right, of course. This is a community website, for and by the people. But this is our time to say thank you to you, Holly Jane Ewens. I asked the website committee to share some words to describe your contribution as editor – 

Sensational, a force, an inspiration, open-hearted, kind, welcoming, a gracefully strong leader, dedicated, passionate, generous, contagious and ‘enthusiasmy’. Holly has been remarkable to work with in her steadfastness, her care for our community and how that has translated into her care in promoting our local businesses and the concerns of residents.

Thank you from all of us, Holly. The committee, contributors, sponsors, readers and sharers. Thank you for your dedication, your phenomenal editorial and design skills, your attention to detail, your mad-capness, your clear eyes, your warmth and aroha for this special village. Thank you for all of it. 

It’s time to put this particular hat away. And when you do, can you please please please show me where they all live?