Bring­ing Joy back to the com­mu­nity

Rodney Times - - CONVERSATIONS - MATTHEW CATTIN

The larger than life Orewa Joy Bus holds a spe­cial place in the hearts of lo­cals.

A nos­tal­gic slice of the area’s his­tory, the bright yel­low bus hugged the Hibis­cus Coast roads for much of the 80s and 90s.

With its charis­matic driver Keith Mor­ris - whose name lives on in an Orewa lane - the bus made fre­quent trips be­tween Orewa, Whanga­paraoa and Silverdale.

Chil­dren were given gifts upon board­ing, and Keith was known to shout greet­ings through the loud­speaker to friends on the foot­paths.

Be­tween 1983 and 1999, the bus was a sta­ple sight around Orewa but, sadly, it hasn’t been in ser­vice for some 18 years.

Fol­low­ing Keith’s death in 1999, con­tin­u­ing the ser­vice just didn’t seem right, daugh­ter Sharon said.

‘‘[He] lit­er­ally drove it un­til he passed away,’’ she said. ‘‘Mum tried to get a cou­ple of guys to drive it but it was never the same I think it was too close to dad dy­ing.’’

A ‘‘bit of a char­ac­ter’’, Keith built the Joy Bus and was in­volved in the build­ing of Hil­lary House, Hibis­cus Coast Youth Cen­tre, and the Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary statue.

While these land­marks re­main op­er­a­tional, the Joy Bus is not, and Sharon wants to see it brought back to life for the com­mu­nity.

‘‘I think it’s a shame for her­itage of Orewa to die. If we can get some­one to co­or­di­nate and run it, it could be used for all sorts of things,’’ she said.

Once used in Santa pa­rades, school galas, fundrais­ers and more, Sharon be­lieves there is much life in the old bus yet.

Although still driv­able, the iconic bus isn’t road le­gal, and needs a string of re­pairs to re­turn to its for­mer glory. The first thing it needs is a dry stor­age space, Sharon says, as it cur­rently re­sides out­side the fam­ily home, bat­tling the el­e­ments.

Moved sev­eral times since its re­tire­ment, the bus never fails to cause a stir when it’s back on the roads, Sharon said.

‘‘Ev­ery time it gets towed from one place to an­other, on Face­book there are hun­dreds of hits from peo­ple say­ing ‘I re­mem­ber rid­ing that’, and ‘where is it now?’.’’

Since post­ing about bring­ing back the Joy Bus on so­cial me­dia, there have been sug­ges­tions to crowd-fund re­pairs. If you think you can help, con­tact Hellen@ore­wabeach.co.nz.

MATTHEW CATTIN/ STUFF

The Joy Bus may soon be seen on Hibis­cus Coast roads again.

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