Spectacular 'trees of awesomeness'
Christmas can be many things to many people, but rarely is it handfuls of plastic Pak 'n Save bags, slices of orange, old newspapers, empty milk bottles, reused hospital glass vials and a pile of dirt.
Unless, of course, you are from Waikato, where those and other deliciously unexpected items have been shredded, cut, twisted, and artfully arranged into all manner of Christmas trees for the fifth annual Trees at the Meteor.
The popular event allows locals to make or decorate a tree out of whatever material they wish. A record 70 entries now stand proudly in the Meteor Theatre and will be on display until December 22.
Curator Dave White says this year's theme - ‘trees of awesomeness' - has turned up trees "more amazing than usual".
"The limitless imagination and creativity of people never ceases to amaze me," he said.
One tree is made entirely out of hand-crocheted yellow supermarket bags; others are fashioned out of paper men cut from newspapers, a working traffic light and edible cupcakes. A particularly striking entry is made entirely of reused vials from Waikato Hospital's renal unit, filled with brightly coloured liquids.
"A group of nurses made that one, it is pretty amazing," Mr White said.
The idea for the event came to Mr White five years ago during a particularly hectic festive season of "dragging my kids around to see tacky trees and Santa displays".
"I thought there had to be something better out there for Christmas," he said. "I had seen a similar thing in Auckland but that was really corporate and slick and I thought that wasn't for Hamilton. We deserved something the whole community could own, and Trees at the Meteor was born."
The key message behind the trees is "compassion, not consumption".
Proceeds from entry fees go to the Hamilton Men's Nightshelter, Women's Refuge and environmental organisation A Rocha.
See treesatmeteor.co.nz for details.