In early December several hundred ChildFund supporters and well-known New Zealanders attended a red carpet event in support of ChildFund New Zealand’s sustainable gifts for Christmas at St Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland.

The story of Mary’s Christmas Yarn was brought to life on stage by a stellar cast of actors including acting legend George Henare, Annie Whittle, Harry McNaughton, Laura Hill (all Shortland Street alumni), Andrew Laing (Underbelly), Rachel Nash (The Almighty Johnsons), Sarah Graham (The Twits), Jason Wu and Hobbit star Mark Hadlow in a hilarious Skype call. Adding to the hilarity was a comedic cameo from ONE News anchor Peter Williams.

ChildFund Ambassador Alison Quigan directed the play after assembling the cast and a professional crew including John Parker, Brad Gledhill and Sara Taylor.

Master of Ceremonies Miriama Kamo gave the audience insight into the creation of the original book and Alison described the Pens Against Poverty school scriptwriting challenge that was won by six girls from Bohally Intermediate School in Blenheim. The girls produced the winning script that was performed on stage. One of the scriptwriters Caitlyn Woodley played the lead “Mary” with the seasoned performers on the night.

At the beginning of the evening ChildFund New Zealand CEO Paul Brown thanked everyone involved including Bohally teacher Rachael Moran who had inspired her students to enter the challenge, and the 30-strong contingent of family and friends who came from Blenheim to see their girls’ play brought to life. 

In the audience was a who’s who of New Zealand television with ChildFund New Zealand ambassador and TV3 News reporter Hilary Barry joined by her fellow reporters Amanda Gillies and Ingrid Hipkiss and cast members of TV2’s Shortland Street including Beth Allen, Sam Bunkall, Jacqueline Nairn and Reid Walker. Former ChildFund board member and TV personality Jude Dobson also attended the play with her children.

Four of the original authors of Mary's Christmas Yarn were present: Alison, Hilary, Miriama and Janet Wilson, formerly well known journalist and now a media advisor.

To gain insight into the reasons behind the play the audience watched a short film from Zambia about the incredible wide-ranging impacts of a gift of a goat to one family.

ChildFund would like to thank the individuals and organisations who donated equipment, expertise and time to help stage the event including the entire cast and crew, St Matthew-in-the-City, Auckland Theatre Company, Peek Exhibitions, Orange Gourmet, Edwards Sound Systems, TicketDirect, Carlton Party Hire, June Renwick, Selwyn College, 2Construct, NZ Opera Company, Emma Baker Photography, Sammy K Milne Photography and a team of hard-working volunteers.

You can purchase the original book Mary’s Christmas Yarn or any number of life changing gifts this Christmas in ChildFund’s online catalogue.

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