Frenchy fires up Wanaka for Matariki cel­e­bra­tion

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - MAR­JORIE COOK MATARIKI:

Bri­tish-born youth worker and cir­cus per­former Claire ‘‘Frenchy’’ French has been liv­ing the Wanaka dream at Kahu Youth group for nearly six months.

The artis­tic trav­eller with a pen­chant for power tools and fire danc­ing moved south from Welling­ton with her builder part­ner Jules Townsend in Jan­uary.

The club has be­tween 40 and 50 reg­u­lar Fri­day night stal­warts and hun­dreds more peo­ple take part in pro­grammes for 11 to 24-year-olds.

The Rus­sell Street club house is busiest on Fri­days from 6pm to 10pm, when up to 40 youth hang out.

Per­form­ers are now pre­par­ing for Kahu Youth’s big­gest night of the year, Matariki [Maori New Year] cel­e­bra­tions on June 24.

The an­nual com­mu­nity event could cost up to $14,000 to or­gan­ise so Kahu Youth has put to­gether a busi­ness spon­sor­ship pack­age and is call­ing for sup­port.

‘‘My back­ground is so­cial work slash cir­cus. So for me, bring­ing those two things to­gether is what I am re­ally pas­sion­ate about. I re­ally love us­ing cir­cus and fire as a ve­hi­cle for so­cial change,’’ she said.

Wanaka lake­front, June 24, 2.30pm - 6.30pm. En­ter­tain­ment, bon­fires, fire danc­ing. If wet, June 25.

MAR­JORIE COOK

Youth work­ers Claire ‘‘Frenchy’’ French, Richard Elvey and in­tern Sarah Blechert.

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