Saturday, 04 July 2020


Joan Smith lights up Christmas in Tairua

Joan Smith from Tairua was recently spotted up on her roof trying to sort out Santa. He wasn’t stuck in her chimney, but he was shrivelling up in the strong winds battering her home on Windsor Drive.

Joan has been lighting up her home every Christmas for over a decade, bringing a festive feeling to the neighbourhood. This year she decided a blow-up Santa would be displayed on the roof. “But then the wind blew something terrible and he started to deflate,” she said.

So, this sprightly 82-year-old, who keeps fit dancing around the house to Irish jigs, climbed out her bedroom window to drag the Santa safely inside. She had difficulty locating the hole that had caused him to deflate, but had a tube of glue ready for repairs.

“He’s definitely not going on my roof again,” she said, shaking her head.

As well as the twinkling lights displayed across her roof and windows, Joan has numerous Santas inside her home. They include a life-sized one wearing spectacles that greets folk at her door, dancing and singing “Jingle Bell Rock.” The Santa was given to her by one of her four sons 11 years ago, after he was offered the Santa when doing commercial cleaning. He passed the Santa on to mum, inspiring her to transform her house during the holiday season.

Families often drive up the hill to look at the lights and Joan loves seeing the pleasure her display brings to youngsters. “I do it all for the littlies,” she smiles.

Joan usually switches the lights off at 11:00pm but may keep them going until midnight during Christmas week.

If you spot a car around Tairua with the number plate “Zoom - what was that,” you will see Joan in the driving seat. One of her sons bought her the plate. “Because he reckons I’m always zooming around in a hurry,” says Joan. A fall in July resulted in serious injury but has not slowed down this determined lady. “Eventually I came right,” she says cheerfully. “You really just have to keep going.”

Joan came to Tairua with her husband, Harold, 25 years ago when they retired from a lunch bar they owned in Avondale. Before that, the couple ran “Harold’s Restaurant” in Otorohanga. Harold died 16 years ago.

“We first got to know Tairua when we camped at Pinelea Motor Camp and, having such happy memories of our times there, we decided to return to Tairua for retirement,” says Joan.

As well as numerous Santas, there’s plenty of other Christmas sparkle in Joan’s home. But there’s also space for a photo of her favourite film star, James Dean, and her favourite singer, Elvis. An Elvis teddy on the coffee table holds a guitar while singing “It’ll be a blue Christmas without you.” A trip to Graceland in her 60s when she visited Elvis’s grave, was “a dream come true” for Joan.

Joan enjoys baking and neighbours often have the opportunity to taste her delicious muffins. One of those neighbours is also happy to help her in the future with her Christmas decorations, so she has promised not to attempt that perilous roof climb again as she aims to continuing lighting up Christmas for many years to come.

Pictured: Joan Smith is renowned in Tairua for the fantastic Christmas display at her Windsor Drive home.


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