Shining lights for Nelson

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 14:18 15/05/2014
Float a Wish
SALLY KIDSON/FAIRFAX NZ
FLOATING DREAMS: Hira School students Hani Fern-Hiscox, left, Sophie Mills and Cilla Wilson. The girls are taking part in the Float a Wish event at Queens Gardens.
Float a Wish
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
LAUNCHING WISHES: A lantern is launched for Float a Wish at the launch of last year's Light Nelson.

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The wishes of Nelson children will be tied to floating rafts and launched via candlelight in a magical festival marking the start of Light Nelson.

Primary-school aged children will make and float tiny rafts, carrying their dreams for the community, on the duck pond at Queens Gardens in the Float a Wish festival on July 3.

Festival co-ordinator Hilary Johnstone says it gives the primary school children of the region a night to "shine their light and share their wishes" for the Nelson community.

Hilary says several schools are taking part in the festival, including Victory School which has promised up to 400 participants.

Organisers are now concerned that the pond might become a little crowded if too many more schools plan to turn up with similar numbers - but hope many youngsters will turn up to watch the event even if they cannot participate.

Families and caregivers can also get involved and should be starting to make a tiny raft.

Hilary says the event celebrates "the magic of light and beauty".

"This is a chance for primary school aged kids to do something that is part of Light Nelson," she says.

"It's their little part. It's special for the kids of Nelson to know that they are part of something quite big."

Rafts can be as simple - a piece of drift-wood - or as elaborate as people want.

"We want to stress that a raft can be just a decorated paper plate with a tealight candle, though some kids or schools might want to explore engineered craft and concepts like balance and flotation," she says.

"The only guidelines are that materials used are to be biodegradable."

Hilary says that last year the simple rafts made for the first event, when combined with the more complex rafts, added an enchanting dimension to the evening. She hopes as many people as possible will take part.

Children are asked to write a wish for the community and attach it to the raft, and launch it on the pond.

Last year's wishes were delightful.

"This gives kids a chance to have their ideas heard," she says.

"Last year the wishes ranged from a new road for Cable Bay through to protection for sharks and a wish for a pizza and a cow for everyone."

She says caregivers and parents should leave it to the kids to come up with the wish they want.

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Hilary says that by asking children: "What would make Nelson a better place?" they can be moved away from wishing for something for themselves and into thinking of others.

Hira School pupils Hani Fern-Hiscox, Sophie Mills and Cilla Wilson are going to take part in the event with their school.

They took part last year and said it was "really, really fun".

The girls were not sure what they were going to wish for, but "maybe for the sea to always be clean" was one idea they had.

At Float a Wish this year there will be some additional attractions to draw the crowd away from the pond and make space for others.

"This year we're going to have some more interactive stuff around the gardens such as a few performers, a school choir, musicians, the Light Nelson bike lighting up a tree with pedal power, shadow puppetry . . . that kind of thing," Hilary says.

The website floatawish.co.nz has videos of last year's event and instructions on how to make a flax-based raft.

Float a Wish will be at Queens Gardens, Thursday, July 3. Launching starts at 6pm.

Light Nelson follows Float a Wish from July 11 to 13. It is an outdoor gallery of art and technology installations from more than 30 artists, also in the Queens Gardens and surrounds. Nightly from 5.30pm till 9.30pm. Entry is free to both events.

- The Nelson Mail

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