Titahi Bay man unlocks imaginations with 'fairy doors'
When Titahi Bay tradesman Steve McEwen isn't working on folks' bathrooms, he's busy unlocking a fantasy realm and opening imaginations with his 'fairy doors' - no prizes for guessing which is more fun.
The tiny entryways, which first sprung up in the family garden, can now be found throughout Titahi Bay, nestled beside park signs and fence posts, offering fairies safe passage from their world - or maybe just helping children to conjure a little magic in our own.
What sounds like the stuff of a Guillermo del Toro movie began as a way for Steve to capture the imagination of daughters, Kadie, 2, and Anabelle, 3.
"I made a garden party for the girls, little tables and chairs, they fell in love with it. So I made a couple of fairy doors to build their imagination."
Then came the quickly-made "guerrilla-style" doors, carefully-placed in public spaces around Titahi Bay. "They're a wee bit of fun," says Steve. "I thought it would only be a couple of days before they were bashed in."
But they've persevered and he still has a few more to find locations for. Steve hopes he isn't breaking any laws - Kapi-Mana News could find nothing about fairy doors in the district plan or the Resource Management Act - he just wanted to add a bit of character to the area.
Steve always places the fairy doors on the ground - as children are far more responsive when engaged at their own level - and he likes the idea that kids will happen upon them while lofty adults remain oblivious.
Requests from friends and the enthusiasm from his family has seen him refine his technique and increase the level of detail. More recent creations include doors that open, so notes and tiny gifts can be tucked inside, and doors with perspex panes that reveal miniature scenes, such as a long drop (with obligatory newspaper) and a tool shed.
One fairy door has even been over-run by goblins, and is appropriately vandalised.
"The only thing I don't make are the hinges. At the moment I'm having to take a step back. Recently I've tended to make them more humanistic, but I'm now going back to a more fairy style, going back to using things like matchboxes and buttons."
Steve is currently working on doors that can sit inside a wall and is keen to replicate the door fronts of local shops and cafes, hopeful the stores will want to incorporate them, either inside or out.
A fairy door exhibition would be the ultimate fantasy, preferably at Pataka as it is easily accessible to children, but Steve understands there is a two-year waiting list.
In the meantime, the next time you're walking through Whitireia Park, don't forget to look down.