The WOW Factor
Debby Aston is our Client Assistant in New Plymouth. In addition to being an administration whiz, she is also a qualified fashion designer!
After three years of study, Debby completed her Diploma in Fashion Design in 2002. As a course requirement, Debby was tasked with entering a creation into the World of WearableArt (WOW) competition, at the time based in Nelson. Now an annual event in Wellington, WOW is a leading international design competition which attracts entrants from all over the world.
Debby decided to enter her design into the Oceania category.
“I had to design the pattern from scratch, have all the conceptual drawings in order then sew and put the garment together.”
After five months of hard work, it was finally time for the big exhibition.
“The name of my entry was ‘Juxtaposition’ – I contrasted Pasifika culture and Edwardian style within my design”.
Her entry was a resounding success – it made the front page of the newspaper and was prominently displayed in the 2003 WOW programme. After the awards, her garment was sent to the World of WearableArt museum in Nelson. After being on display for over a decade, her entry has recently been returned to her.
Aside from her WOW entry, Debby has also worked on the ‘Last Samurai’ film (starring Tom Cruise), with the majority of filming taking place in the Taranaki region.
Angela and Anita
Angela Wharekura, a Client Manager in our Rotorua branch, clearly remembers the day that Devon walked into the office.
It was 24 May 2000 and Devon’s father had passed away that day. Devon’s mother suffered from dementia and would not leave her home. Devon cared for her as much as he could. Devon was single-handedly raising his daughter, Anita, – who at the time was 9 years old – after her mother had passed away six years earlier. Anita attended Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Koutu and was fluent in Te Reo – Devon was extremely proud of her.
Devon’s father’s estate included a farm and Perpetual Guardian became involved in the estate, arranging the lease of the property and ongoing administration.
Anita and Devon made regular visits to the Rotorua branch.
When Anita was 16, her father was diagnosed with cancer and she became his caregiver – a huge responsibility for someone so young but Anita was very strong. Her half-siblings had all left home and offered as much support as they could but this was limited as most of them had their own families to care for. Anita always felt supported by Angela and the Perpetual Guardian team, and always knew they were there – anytime she needed it.
On 12 May 2006 – the day after Anita’s 17th birthday – Devon lost his battle with cancer. She was devastated. After trying a few different career paths and receiving encouragement about her potential, Anita undertook study and gained a Bachelor in Early Childhood Education. She now works for her iwi, Ngati Whakaue, at Te Puna Akoranga o Ngati Whakaue in their early childhood centre.
“I feel very proud of her achievements. Seeing her grow into such a lovely young lady, attending her 21st birthday and her graduation – being able to feel part of her success is one of the fantastic things about my job”, says Angela. “Making sure that we are there to give advice when she needs it is very fulfilling”.