Bringing Joy back to the community
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.
The Joy Bus may soon be seen on Hibiscus Coast roads again.