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Curtain call, inside Canterbury’s Curtain Bank

The Christchurch-based Curtain Bank, one of the flagship offerings of Community Energy Action Charitable Trust (CEA) has been helping to keep Cantabrians (and more recently West Coasters) healthier for over 25 years. The first of its kind in New Zealand, it has provided over 6000 homes with good quality, recycled window coverings – as well as insulation and energy advice. Metropol catches up with the charity as it works through pandemic-induced higher needs for its services.



During uncertain times the need in the community increases. CEA and the Curtain Bank are looking towards autumn and winter with a view of ensuring as many in the community are warm, dry and healthy as possible.

“Windows are one of the weakest links when it comes to energy efficiency in a home,” says Caroline Shone, Chief Executive of CEA.

More heat can be lost through uncovered single glazed windows than through an uninsulated wall.”

And considering how many homes throughout Canterbury have single glazed windows, this is a lot of cold, damp and in the worst cases, mouldy, homes.

In New Zealand, it is estimated a third of homes are considered unhealthy, a figure which costs the country $145 million per year and results in 35,000 nights in hospital, according to a University of Otago study.

Those national figures are reflected in the Canterbury communities serviced by the CEA and Curtain Bank, which is Kaikoura to Ashburton, and across to the West Coast.

“In the aftermath of both the Canterbury and the North Canterbury earthquakes, CEA services, including the Curtain Bank, helped a large number of households who had earthquake damaged properties. We worked alongside councils in Christchurch, Waimakariri, Hurunui, Selwyn, Kaikoura and even Marlborough during that period,” says Caroline.

“Now our attention is to support families in the community through another challenging period: the Covid-19 pandemic. We want to let people know about CEA and the Curtain Bank and everything else we do.

“Curtaining is expensive, and not everyone can afford it. So instead of throwing good curtains away, they can be donated and re-used. That doesn’t just help other families but also the environment by reducing what goes to landfill.

“We know that the Curtain Bank has saved many tens of thousands of kilos from going to landfill, conserving energy and reducing emissions,” says Caroline.

Once received, donated curtains are cleaned and stored at the bank until an application is received.

If the Curtain Bank has the size required, curtains can be given out straight away. Where required curtains can be resized and another layer can be added to create a double layer.

The Curtain Bank has also helped set up others like it across New Zealand. Several years ago the Curtain Bank added a mobile service to get out to the more rural areas and to help those unable to get to the Christchurch premises.

However, it cost tens of thousands of dollars a year to keep the Curtain Bank running. Aside CEA’s own funding, the Curtain Bank is supported by individuals, soft furnishing stores (donating excess stock) and a few key sponsors including NZ Lottery Grants, the Christchurch Casino and for over ten years, its long-time supporter and funder, Genesis Energy.

Genesis Energy’s Community Investment & School-gen Manager Jenny Burke says CEA has done an outstanding job in reaching out to people in the community who need their support.

“As a major energy generator and retailer we believe in doing our part to help those people in the community who struggle to make their homes energy efficient.

“Working with CEA enables us to support those people in our communities who, for whatever reason, can’t afford insulated curtains. Hopefully with a warmer and drier home these families will suffer fewer respiratory illnesses – keeping kids in school and the elderly out of hospital.”

CEA is a charitable trust that also works as a trusted and established service provider for the government’s Warmer Kiwi Homes programme through EECA, for subsidised insulation and heating for low income homeowners.

“We also provide non-subsidised insulation,” says Caroline. “Any surplus money made from the non-subsidised insulation goes back into our services such as the Curtain Bank to help those that need them.”

• You too can help! By either donating to CEA’s Givealitte page, making direct donations or dropping off your good quality used curtains, longer than 1.8m, free of mould and not ripped or faded. See CEA’s website below for making donations in other ways and dropping off curtains.


Eat. Teach. Love

Fionna Heiton could be Christchurch’s very own Julia Roberts. From getting over a relationship breakup by leaving her job in New Zealand and travelling to the Himalayas, to finding her future partner and starting her own international charity in Nepal: It feels like Eat. Pray. Love got a Kiwi revamp.

Our main character came to a crossroads in her life and, having always loved exploring the Port Hills, wanted to escape and explore the world’s most famous mountainous region: The Himalayas. So, in 1998 the English as a Second Language teacher packed up her rental cottage on Kilmore Street and set off for Nepal.

It was there in Kathmandu, within a few days of arriving, that she met her love interest, Durga Aran, while working for British charity Water Aid. Fast-forward to 2001, the pair were raising their twin toddlers – Rhona and Jamie – when the parents became troubled to learn about the Nepali school system.

In 2001, the mean years of schooling for the country’s 24 million people was just 2.5, according to UN data. In comparison, the mean years of schooling for New Zealanders was 11.5.

“Hundreds of thousands of children across Nepal spend their days in dark, dirty, empty classrooms, taught by poorly trained and demotivated teachers,” says Fionna.

This was the motive that brings us to the climax of the story – the first steps. The family travelled to the village area where Durga was raised, in between Kathmandu and the Tibet border, with the goal of creating a quality early childhood centre.

“We borrowed a jeep and drove up to the remote hillside village each day. Our days were long, hot and dusty,” remembers Fionna.

“But the need was so clear and we knew that simple activities and changes could make a world of difference for the children.”

Thus, First Steps Himalaya was founded, a charity that has been making a difference in transforming lives and working on the ground in Nepal for over 10 years.

“With the help of generous donors, classrooms are developed from dirt floors to carpet. Rooms are cleaned and painted. Wooden pallets for seating are replaced with low tables suited to young children. Most rural Nepali early childhood classrooms start with only a single chalkboard, but after being refurbished by the charity, the children have access to crayons, paper, books and quality, culturally appropriate learning resources.”

Having built a teacher-training centre in 2015, the team now run effective, hands-on teacher training courses across Nepal, empowering rural teachers to create simple, engaging lessons.

After learning how to make resources from things they can find in their village, teachers can then transform their own classrooms into safe and stimulating learning environments.

“We strongly believe the key to bringing about positive change in rural Nepali schools is the quality of the teaching,” says Fionna.

Recently returning to Christchurch, after a period in Nelson, reruns of the past came flooding back to our protagonist.

“I am so grateful for all the support we have had from friends in Christchurch, the rest of New Zealand and around the world. There is such a massive need in Nepal, and we are only just scratching the surface. First Steps Himalaya will be there for the long haul.”

So, what’s next for Fionna Julia Roberts Heiton? We would not be surprised if Hollywood came knocking on her door with a story like that.

For more information or to donate visit the charity’s website.



Giving back to a good bunch: Daffodil Day

When she was diagnosed with renal cancer, Christchurch woman Angie Milner’s immediate thoughts were making sure she supported her family. The Cancer Society made sure she was supported, too.



Not many people expect a cancer diagnosis. And especially not Angie, who had no risk factors when told she had a form of kidney cancer in 2018.

“I just didn’t know what to do or where to go,” says the mother of four.

Having lived in Bankside, between Rakaia and Dunsandel, for 15-years, she is an active member of the community and a fellow Civil Defence volunteer recommended she pop into the then-new Selwyn Centre, a Cancer Society hub in Rolleston, which runs a support group on the first Monday of every month.

She ventured in with her husband, Ken, “and was met by the most amazing lady called Jackie Claridge,” she says.

“She was just full of life; really bubbly, friendly and welcoming and introduced us to the group. We had a cup of tea and biscuits and talked about nothing in particular and had some laughs.”

The Cancer Society offers support services, advice, information and research funding in its quest to advocate for patients and their whānau. It is not government funded and relies on donations to deliver its services like accommodation, transport and support groups.

Angie says the support she received – like information about and transport to medical procedures, including the one which removed part of her kidney – made all the difference on her cancer journey.

“You can just go there and be yourself – you could cry, laugh or shout and everything would just be accepted.

“When you’re [facing cancer] the world carries on around you, but you become someone different, your perspective changes.

“You tend not to think about yourself, you think about your children and relations and making sure they’re going to be okay, so The Cancer Society is a place you can go and be you – and meet people who have similar things going on in their lives.”

Last year, Angie organised a charity art auction which raised over $7,500 for the organisation and she urges Cantabrians to support its annual Daffodil Day appeal on Friday, August 29 if they can.

This years’ drive may take a different, socially-distanced, format – so check The Cancer Society’s website for ways to help.


Angie Milner and her daughter


The Drive for Good: Archibald Motors

Charity initiative Drive for Good ended in style at Archibald Motors, with three local charities taking home a share of $100,000 at a vibrant celebration in the showrooms on Tuam Street. Seven more charities were gifted equal shares in $50,000. Cantabrians clearly relished the chance to show support for their chosen charity, with more than 21,000 votes cast by the public during the three-month long initiative.



Archibald’s Managing Director John Fairhall was full of praise for the way the organisations had engaged with the initiative. “It has been an honour for us to get to know the ten charities better and see the work they do to make Christchurch a healthy and happy place to live,” he says. With a final tally of 4,512, The Champion Centre was the recipient of the greatest number of votes, earning a staggering $50,000 for the charity. Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust and Ronald McDonald House South Island received second and third place respectively, each receiving $25,000 towards their causes.

Although I was there for the charity event, the well-placed array of Porsche, Jaguar and Range Rovers caught my eye. After all I was sitting next to a Range Rover Sport SVR, with its Yulong White Metallic with Carbon Exterior Kit and Panoramic Sunroof flexing its carbon fibre exterior and stunning 22” 5-split spoke gloss black alloys. It took my attention substantially after formalities had ended. Kudos to you Archibald’s, you are an automotive company with a Cantabrian heart.



Art helps charities: TakeHeART

A love of art and a quest to help charitable organisations succeed in a difficult fundraising environment is the motivation behind the first ever TakeHeART fundraising exhibition.




Christchurch woman Jen Duncan is organising the exhibition to be held at the Great Hall at the Arts Centre from November 30 to December 2; with an official opening night on November 29. Jen says the concept behind TakeHeART was to help 10 organisations raise money through selling art on behalf of the artist. On selling their artwork, the artist will receive 65 percent of the total and the nominated charity will receive 25 percent.

“The artists win, the people win and the charities win, so it’s a great result all round,” Jen says. Charities involved are The Cancer Society, Conductive Education, Upside Downs, Riding for the Disabled, Christchurch School of Music, Cystic Fibrosis Canterbury, Ski NZ, The Champion Centre, Mental Health Foundation and the Arts Centre Trust. “After working with small charities and fundraising groups I can see first-hand how hard it can be so I thought why not combine for one big event, benefiting everyone.”

With previous fundraising and marketing experience, Jens says all of the charities and artists are supportive of the exhibition. Local artists include Svetlana Orinko, Ben Reid, Philip Beadle and others. “It’s a great way for everyone to come together (in a prime central location) and showcase the work that charities do and our talented artists.”


Visit for further information on the event or phone Jen on 021 023 07322.


Sweet Louise

Bargins for a good cause: Sweet Louise

Local radio host and TV personality, Brodie Kane recently became a brand ambassador for Sweet Louise, New Zealand’s only charity solely dedicated to supporting those with incurable breast cancer. After digging into her own wardrobe to donate pre-loved clothing for a local fundraising event this month in honour of a member who passed away, she is urging other locals to support the cause.

Sweet Louise
As one of 600 Sweet Louise members nationally, Cantabrian Caroline Horton had a passion for people, organising social events and beautiful clothes. After being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in 2016, her goal was to organise a high-quality, second-hand clothing and accessories fundraising event in Christchurch to raise Sweet Louise’s profile. She wanted Cantabrians with incurable breast cancer to know a range of support and services are available.

Sadly, Caroline passed away in January 2017 before her wish was realised. Friends and family joined forces to ensure the first event which took place last year was a great success and are once again honouring her memory with the Caroline Horton Second-hand Clothing and Accessories Sale this month.“I feel really privileged to be part of the Sweet Louise team and help get the message out to those with incurable breast cancer that there is support available locally,” Brodie says.
“Being a fellow Cantabrian, Caroline’s event really struck a chord with me. I think this is a great opportunity to get friends together and grab a bargain whilst supporting a wonderful cause.”

Saturday 11 August, 9:30am-1:30pm Eliza Manor, 82 Bealey Avenue. Tickets $20 include morning tea and can be purchased by emailing or by text 021 116 1376.

Māia Health Foundation

Charitable feast: Māia Health Foundation’s upcoming charity event

Despite the ravages of winter, Christchurch is spoiled for choice when it comes to its city-wide social calendar and there’s certainly something special about it when the events on offer are in aid of a good cause.

Māia Health Foundation

On Saturday 11 August, Māia Health Foundation invites Cantabrians to gather around the table for Feast – an abundant night of local food and wine, grand auction items and world class live entertainment. The charitable foundation’s annual fundraiser is designed to inspire guests to give back and help take Canterbury’s health services from ‘good to great’.

This year it’s all about landing the future-proofed rooftop helipad for good

Last year’s inaugural Feast saw a roomful of 250 generous guests come together, digging deep into their pockets to raise $256,000 on the night – a feat that was five times the Foundation’s initial target of $50,000, reiterating the level of support in the community for the cause. The $256,000 went towards funding beds for parents staying with their sick children in Christchurch Hospital’s new acute services building as well as a future-proofed rooftop helipad.

Māia Health Foundation
This year it’s all about landing the future-proofed rooftop helipad for good. After an incredibly successful $1m crowdfunding campaign in March, Māia is already well over halfway there. The production around this year’s Feast will be the finest yet, in the hopes of rounding off the fundraising for the helipad.
Well-loved television and radio personality, Jason Gunn, will be making his way back to host the evening, livening things up with his effervescent and infectious nature, while Kiwi icon and Māia Ambassador, Bic Runga, returns to the stage for a live performance with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
Food will once again wow guests, with the locals from White Tie Catering creating a fine feast, as they team up with Peter Timbs and MG Marketing who have donated all the meat and fresh produce for the night respectively.
Generous local brewery, Three Boys, and North Canterbury winery, Mt Beautiful Wines, will also be treating guests to their home-grown wine and beer. “We love to support Maia Health because it focuses on the wellbeing of Canterbury, so we’re bringing that to the table this year with a focus on the region,” White Tie Catering’s Katie Duncan says.

Māia Health Foundation



“The food is being sourced locally to support the wellbeing of our community business and, with the best nutritional seasonal profile, the wellbeing of our guests. We’re bringing our precious community vibe to black tie style and it will be brilliant!”The biggest moment of the night will be the Live Auction – where a dozen money-can’t-buy experiences will be auctioned off in the hope that a record-breaking fundraising total will be realised for the charity.

Māia Health Foundation


Tickets are selling incredibly fast, with less than 30 tickets remaining. Tickets are $315 per person / $3,000 for a table of 10. For more information visit

Can Do Catering

Catering with a purpose: Can Do Catering are the social enterprise business you need to hire to do your next work morning tea

Stefan Freuding’s passion for cuisine has taken him to kitchens around the globe. The 32-year-old chef has worked in Europe, Australia and the Middle East – but it’s a little kitchen in Christchurch that has captured his heart. He’s landed the perfect job that combines his flair for food and his love for helping others.

Can Do Catering
Stefan Freuding

Stefan is the head chef at the Laura Fergusson Trust Canterbury’s initiative, Can Do Catering. It’s a social enterprise business with a clear goal – to provide ordinary life opportunities for people with traumatic brain injuries and other physical disabilities.
The catering business was set up in 2015 by the Laura Fergusson Trust Canterbury with the aim to give its clients “ordinary life opportunities” and gain meaningful, paid employment. The organisation plays a leading role in providing traumatic brain injury rehabilitation in the South Island, and is dedicated to changing how we see and value people with brain injury and other disabilities.
Stefan, who is from Blaidhach, Germany, jumped at the chance to be part of the catering enterprise where he helps the employees create quality cuisine. “The residents are really inspiring, and it’s amazing to see them thrive and feel pride in their work,” Stefan says.
Seven disabled employees work alongside Stefan to prepare and deliver food for a variety of functions, morning teas and board meetings, for clients including the Christchurch City Council.
Stefan joined Can Do Catering in April 2018 as the Head Chef, bringing 16 years of global cuisine knowledge with him. He started his career in a small, traditional German restaurant, but it was the lure of travel that led him to jump continents, cooking in kitchens in Australia, Dubai and Bermuda.
“When you come from a small town in Germany, it is eye-opening to work in different parts of the world and such a great opportunity to work with top chefs,” he says.
Stefan, who also cooks for the less fortunate through Christchurch City Mission in his spare time, says he was ready for his day job to become more meaningful. He left the hotel industry after working for five years in New Zealand – and he knows he has found the perfect fit.
“At Can Do Catering I help residents to get back into the workforce and see them succeed. It’s inspiring to work with them every day,” Stefan explains.
“I had one resident who started off very shy, but after showing him a few recipes in the kitchen and getting him to help with chopping and peeling, he can’t wait to come back to work.
“It’s an amazing feeling to come to work every day knowing you’re making a difference in someone’s life.”
For more information, visit or

philanthropic endeavours

Charity starts in the city: Metropol’s guide to some of the many amazing philanthropic endeavours to watch out for in the near future

We share our city with some incredible people who put heart, mind and soul into the support of philanthropic endeavours, so much so that we couldn’t possibly hope to list them all.

philanthropic endeavours

What we can do however, is list some of the upcoming events on the local social calendar which have been formed to support the vital charitable services that are at the heart of a strong community. We hope you enjoy.

A charitable exhibitionist
Ira Mitchell-Kirk’s My Heartland exhibition is a collection of landscapes which are dear to her heart, each having a significant meaning to her life journey, from the high country of Glenorchy and Queenstown where she grew up, to Christchurch which has been her home for the past 20 years. Aviva – Family Violence Services will be the recipient of a percentage of the profits from the show.

Exhibition opening 6 August
Pumanawa Gallery the Arts Centre

Bachelor bidding
After searching high and low, PriMortal has discovered Christchurch’s best looking, well-versed and multi-talented men. Most importantly these men are single! They’ve put their boyish reservations aside for the good of a greater cause, raising money for the Base. How is PriMortal going to achieve this; by auctioning off dates with their bachelors to the highest bidders on the floor! Each bachelor is paired with a unique date package at a local café/restaurant.

Sunday 17 June
Halo Bar and Lounge

The Bingo Babes
Christchurch Riding for the Disabled is fundraising for a new therapy pony, so ‘Ethel & Bethel Bingo Babes’ are hosting a Comedy night of bingo, raffles, auctions and games.
Invite your adult family and friends and join these babes for a night of fun and hilarity! There will be a bar running all night with supper provided for gold coin donation by Little Sister Café.
Tickets are only $20 – this includes one free bingo card. Please bring lots of extra cash for games, raffles and extra cards.

Saturday 23 June
Canterbury Caledonian Society

A charitable read
The Community Focus Trust is holding its annual Bookarama fundraising event. For attendees, this means browsing the collection of books, jigsaws, games and more, with proceeds raising funds for the group’s community projects. A kids’ corner will keep littlies entertained while you browse, while the café will be serving food and hot drinks.

Friday 20 July to Saturday 21 July
Empower Church, 140 Springfield Road
Contact Mark 027 9157789 or email

A famine fundraiser
Cashmere students are playing host to some family fun, in aid of helping South Sudanese refugees stranded in camps in Uganda! The World Vision 40 Hour Famine fair will feature a bouncy castle, face-painting, food stalls, games, a prize wheel, second hand stalls and much, much more. The Humanity Council of Cashmere High School’s goal is to raise $10,000 for South Sudanese refugees.

Saturday 9 June
Cashmere High School,
172 Rose Street

Pink Ribbon High Tea at The george

High tea temptations: stick your pinkies out for the Pink Ribbon high teas at The George

The new Executive Chef of The George, Antony Page, recently filled us in on the new 50 Bistro winter menu heading our way, when the discussion moved to a charity function that runs close to Metropol’s heart – the Pink Ribbon Breakfast, supporting the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

Pink Ribbon High Tea at The george

The George is getting behind this very worthy cause by throwing a Pink Ribbon High Tea until 15 June. Now you’ll be able to have the opportunity to enjoy something as decadent and delicious as a high tea at The George, while supporting research into breast cancer, with the goal of getting zero deaths from the disease.
You can start your High Tea with a Nautilus Rosé, or tea and coffee. Culinary options on offer include chicken, cranberry and brie sandwiches, carpaccio of beef and horseradish, and smoked salmon and herb cream cheese rolls. Or perhaps you’ll be tempted by the sweet treats like raspberry macaroons, strawberry custard tart or cherry chocolate brownie.
The choices on the menu are extensive yet, with one of Canterbury’s top chefs, Kelly Te Mete, behind the menu design, how could it possibly be anything but stunning? Why not get your BFFs together and make a date from mid-morning till late afternoon by calling The George to book your table?
Any time is a good time for that convivial catch up with the ladies over high tea when you can join with the George in supporting the wonderful endeavour that is the Pink Ribbon Breakfast.