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Keeping Christmas alive for kids

Some of the displays at this year’s Christmas Wonderland on Queen St. PHOTO/ELISA VORSTER


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For seven years, Suzie Wilmshurst and Joanna Scott have given up their spare time and money to bring Christmas cheer to Wairarapa’s children.

Every year the pair have put on a Christmas Wonderland display in an empty retail space for no other reason than to make people smile.

The Christmas Wonderland features a number of elaborate Christmas displays, trees and lights for people of all ages to enjoy.

Wilmshurst said being an early childhood teacher, she noticed there was nothing “Christmassy” in town for the kids which left her feeling deflated.

“I thought ‘I can make this happen’,” she said.

Joanna Scott, left, and Suzie Wilmshurst in front of one of the displays they created at their Christmas Wonderland on Queen St.

She partnered up with Scott, but with few resources, they had to get creative.

“The first year it was all handmade and upcycled decorations,” Scott said.

They had accumulated an impressive supply of Christmas decorations each year and their husbands had been tolerant of their elaborate construction requests.

This year they built a giant wooden train for their ‘Polar Express’ theme – something Scott had wanted since Wonderland started seven years ago.

Even the toilet is festively decorated, with a Christmas tree covered in bog rolls instead of the usual baubles.

Wilmshurst said they were thankful to Masterton Trust Lands Trust who had helped fund them on two occasions, as the biggest obstacle they face each year is finding a free space to host the Wonderland in.

The entry fee to the Wonderland is by koha/donation, and doesn’t cover costs.

“We literally do it for free,” Wilmshurst said.

“The donations only just cover the power bill.”

Both Wilmshurst and Scott give hundreds of hours of their time setting up the Wonderland, starting in October and sometimes working until midnight.

Now they’re hoping someone new will take the reins to keep the Christmas joy alive, as it is the last year they will be running it.

“We’re both working full-time and it takes a toll on our families,” Wilmshurst said.

But she said it was all worthwhile when they see the reaction from the public.

“People will be walking through saying, ‘ooh, ahh’.

“There are kids who still believe and old grannies who say, ‘oh I used to have that decoration’ and it gets a tear out of them.”

The Christmas Wonderland is on Queen St opposite Chan’s Restaurant and is open from Tuesday to Friday from 9am until 5pm, Fridays from 7pm until 10pm and Saturdays from 10am until 2pm until Christmas Eve.

Santa will be there Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12pm until 1pm.

Christmas lights addresses

Christmas Wonderland, Queen St, Masterton

24 Cambridge Tce, Masterton

Some of the displays at this year’s Christmas Wonderland on Queen St.

112a Essex St, Masterton

131a Solway Cres, Masterton

9 Deller Dr, Carterton

60 Johnstone St, Masterton

513 East Taratahi Rd, Solway

12 Fleet St, Solway

63 Millard Ave, Masterton

29 Cambridge Tce, Masterton

40 Railway Cres, Masterton

102 Villa St, Masterton

Cnr Opaki Rd and Te Ore Ore Rd, Masterton

3 Ludlam St, Featherston



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