Wendy Ganley: 1960’s Fashion Designer

The story of a 21 year old Hamiltonian, opening her own fashion boutique on Victoria street, caught my attention.  That it happened back in the 1960’s, fascinated me even more for the vision, gumption, passion and dedication it would have taken to succeed.  It was a privilege to hear Wendy Hall nee Ganley of Elle boutique talk about her early career during an event at the Waikato Museum / Te Whare Taonga o Waikato on Sunday.  The exhibition showcasing her work, “Elle & the Youthquake” was curated with the New Zealand Fashion Museum and runs until the 14th of October.

Take a sneak peek here…

A visit to the exhibition will take some of you back in time… and for the retro-curious like me, have you swooning over the display of 1960’s clothing we spend hours scouring op-shops for today.  I’ve got a little collection of dresses in the mod style which I’ve collected over the years – it’s difficult to find them in my size, but I find the shape flattering and the colour and patterns fun.

Sunday’s conversation was facilitated by Doris de Pont, a fellow designer and Director of the New Zealand Fashion Museum in front of over 40 people.


Wendy started out by making clothes for dolls, herself and friends.  After finishing school she contemplated what might be next; and while peers may have followed a path in nursing or teaching she decided to follow her love of design, textiles and colour.  The decision was fortunate for Hamilton, which could have been forgotten as a trend setter for fashion in those days.  Because trend setter she was!  Hems were getting higher, she was cutting holes out of the midriff, using crochet loops to make her version of a fur coat and combining colours not previous paired.

She shared her love of colour, showing off the bright orange lining on the inside of her cream wedding suit – which is in the exhibition (bottom left of the photo above).  Orange has been her favourite colour though points out it doesn’t look as good on her as it used to… I’m not sure if I believe this, I get the sense when looking at her that she would still get away with it – as stylish as she has remained.

Society was changing in the 1960’s.  Youth were no longer restricted by pre-war conservatism and more women were in the workforce, giving many of us discretionary income for the first time.   In fact, one member of the audience and one of Wendy’s first customers, an ex-nurse, recalls spending “all her pay” in Elle boutique, while other’s nodded in familiarity at lay-buying their latest desires. Many of these items still hang in their wardrobes.

Another theme, coming from stories of Wendy’s early career was the industry support given to her by fellow designers and given to others in return.  Wendy learnt couture from Babs Radon in Auckland, and mentored Marilyn Sainty in return here in Hamilton.  It was through working with Barbara Penberthy of Babs Radon that she was able to see how balancing motherhood and a career could work; through setting up a space for ‘the babies’ in her Frankton workshop.

Wendy was able to share her original sample books with the audience, which showed the textile swatches she had to choose from – and the designs and combinations used to make her clothing and accessories.  I was really surprised each item was a one off – she explained there wasn’t the same awareness of economies of scale; customers wouldn’t want to be seen at the races in the same outfit as someone else and besides, it wouldn’t have been fun mass producing them that way anyway!

Before trade was opened up in the 1980’s New Zealand wasn’t inundated by cheap imported clothing; or “fast fashion” as we are now.  Buyers consumed fashion under the kaupapa of “Buy once, Buy well”.  Quality over Quantity.  These garments were often one of a kind, hand made and of high quality, particularly with New Zealand wool a common textile to use.   Collectors like myself can attest to this enduring quality – with it not being uncommon to find an immaculate 1960s dress or suit in an opshop (they obviously knew how to follow “care instructions” unlike me).

Inevitably it got me thinking about how different things are now, and most notably in comparison to fast fashion.  Will there ever be a resurgence of NZ made clothing? Will we look back some time in the future and pin point the time when we started to “Buy once, Buy well” rather than base a decision on low cost and quantity.  Will we look back in 50 years and know who our local designers were?

We are not paying “The True Cost” #fashionrevolution

The Waikato Museum / Te Whare Taonga o Waikato has booklets about the exhibition available in their shop for $15.





Two Birds Eatery

One of the ethos I live by is to actively work towards reducing my impact on our planet.  Some of the ways I’ve done this so far is by being more mindful of the food packaging or single use plastic I use, reducing the use of chemicals on my body and in our house, switching to a moon cup (too much info? sorry); reducing my intake of meat and jumping on a bike to get to work.   I’m conscious of the choices available to me on a daily basis and try to support businesses that are doing the right thing too.  It’s not always the easy (or cheapest) option for us or them, but I think it’s important to consider the “true cost” of a purchase.

Two Birds Eatery gets the tick in terms of an environmentally conscious business … so I’m super excited to have them as a sponsor of Kelli from the Tron.

I have to admit I’m not a “foodie”, I’m just as happy chowing down on Macca’s as I am to eating a raw, locally sourced, gluten free, vegan meal but I do appreciate, and am conscious of which one is better for my body and the planet.  Two Birds is well known for their raw baking, which basically means no crap yummy goodness.  Seriously.  Check out the ingredients in their cakes, slices etc and you’ll see what I mean.  I wouldn’t say knocking back a whole cheesecake is good for you… but if you’re going to do it…

Anyway… I digress.  I’m pretty childish when it comes to diet, I’m much more at home telling you more about waste-minimisation.  I even set up a group on facebook called Zero-waste Kirikiriroa to enable people to share tips, ask advice and reduce waste to landfill by swapping.  Anyway … back to Two Birds.

The recycling wall in the Two Birds courtyard is awesome – it gets customers thinking about what happens to the vessel they just used for their drink.

For those who are familiar with the waste hierachy, you’ll know that recycling is good -but not using a disposable product to begin with is better.  So while I may sarcastically slow clap someone when they say they always recycle at home (recycling is sooo 2017), the reason the Two Birds recycling wall is so cool, is because it reminds customers that even when they are “eating out”, their bottles have to go somewhere…  I mean, is what cafes do with their waste even something you’d considered before?  While Hamilton has a recycling service for glass, and plastics 1-2, the smoothie cups and coffee cups are a whole other kettle of fish – and have to be taken to a commercial composter (in Hampton Downs or (soon) Raglan).   So well done to Two Birds for not taking the easy way out by putting it all in landfill.

Two Birds Eatery don’t just leave environmentally conscious practices at recycling, they take it further.  Much further.  They consider the packaging you take your slices home in, the packaging their suppliers send them products in, they use local suppliers when they can (less food miles) and da dum da daaa IF you take your Keep cup (Joco etc) in to Two Birds for your morning coffee, You get double stamped!  Talk about an incentive to not use disposable cups.  (Plus also, these cups are so pretty…).


I guess what I’m trying to say is Go check out Two Birds Eatery – it’s a cafe, offers catering and an event space.  A little bird (get it…) told me to keep an eye on their facebook page for cooking classes soon too.

Massive thank you to Two Birds Eatery for being the Captain Planet of cafes in the Tron, and for sponsoring FreeFM local content!

You’ll find them in the Clyde Street carpark (off Grey Street) in Hamilton East.


Video killed the radio star

This weekend Hamilton played host to the annual Association of Community Access Broadcasters (ACAB) conference.  Industry experts and partners, radio hosts (“content creators” in the access radio sphere), staff and funders came from around New Zealand and in the case of the keynote speaker, across the ditch, to attend.  One of the drawcards to the conference was to have a glimpse at what Radio Futurologist (yes there is such a thing) James Cridland has to say about trends and the future of the humble radio.

You would be forgiven for thinking that radio is a dying industry, and while any industry usually looks to positives rather than negatives to feel better about themselves; the pulse of broadcast radio is statistically still looking strong.  You would be forgiven for thinking that less people tune into the radio, and considerably less younger people… but stats say otherwise.  Younger people just tune in differently.  The radio industry has proven it is an adaptive one and has kept up with technological developments.  Speaker James Cridland shared images of the history of radio including this fabulous image for Phillips Autoradio.  One of the earlier significant technological advances was to put a radio in a car… and if you think about when you most listen to live radio even today… you can see how underestimated that humble development has been for the industry.


Insights into how our national broadcaster Radio NZ have navigated technological changes in the last few years were shared by Carol Hirschfeld who is now Head of News at Radio NZ.  Radio NZ is now multi-platform – and includes the daily visual news “Checkpoint” being shared across social media, bringing listeners back to the traditional station.   To further explain developments in “the visual layer of radio”; Hamilton social enterprise “the Volume Collective” shared their story, which involves a shoe string budget to provide a platform for emerging artists to share their creative work.  They also showed how effective a phone can be to add another dynamic to shareable content.  The story of Wairarapa TV  was inspiring to show just how automated things can be by sharing content across multiple platforms, at little or no cost – all at the press of a button.

Photo courtesy of FreeFM89

Speakers gave us the proof we wanted that public broadcasting can adapt and continue to provide quality; diverse and dynamic content under resource constraint.  This constraint is from an industry budget freeze for the last 10 years.  Chief Executive of NZ on Air Jane Wrightson tells us there is no way of knowing what the future will hold.  Recently community driven “Action Station” put public broadcasting onto the political agenda with a campaign to end the freeze on Radio NZ funding.  They presented a 32000 strong petition to the Minister for Broadcasting and during the elections published a reportcard with National and Labour being unable to commit to an unfreeze (all minor parties could).  It will depend on political will as to whether we will see more funding.

Regardless, success (however that is measured) will come down to the community access radio sector, rallying together to come up with new ways of delivery to improve listenership and engagement.  Social media is a big part of that.

The future of radio is personalised (algorithm based), it’s on-demand and it’s multi-platform.  The challenge is to get that content to it’s audience in a crowded online market.  The strength of community access radio is it’s relevance to you and me.  It’s our stories; told with our voices; it’s the niche, the fringe, the regional and the minority voices and interests.  Viva la radio.

Read more: Max Christoffersen; Stormy reminder of radio’s place in our lives.



Which colour are you voting Hamilton?

In two months we cast a vote to decide who will lead our country for the next three years.  Will blue prevail with a stable government? or will we find the minor parties scrape together enough seats to form ‘some sort of’ coalition?… what colour would that be?  Brown?…  Right now, according to the polls we’re heading towards another National led government.  However, based on what we’ve seen internationally in the last year it’s anyone’s game until election day.  At the moment, hopeful candidates will have two, well respected and nice… long standing MP’s to unseat.  David Bennett has been MP for Hamilton East since 2005 and holds the roles of Minister for Food Safety, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, and Minister for Racing under the current National led government.  West of the river Tim MacIndoe has held the seat since 2008 and is currently Minister of Customs, Associate Minister of Transport and Associate Minister of Education.

Hoping to change the colour of Hamilton’s political flag, we’ve got a relatively new field of candidates. In the red corner, vying for Hamilton East, the Labour party’s Jamie Strange has reasonably good name recognition from previous (unsuccessful) election campaigns (he has run for Hamilton city council 2013 and in the Taupo electorate 2014).  Jamie is a teacher, and former church minister painted as the family man.  On the West… not quite so sunny.  After Sue Moroney stood down from running in this year’s election due to being bumped down the party list; it appears the Hamilton West seat was hard to fill; or Labour’s just not particularly interested in Hamilton – with a late coming announcement that an Aucklander, ranking 65 on the Labour party list will contest the seat.  Dr Gaurav Sharma, has great credentials for health and dare I say it… appeal for the ethnic community but he really is coming in as an underdog.  The Greens got in early and are already out door knocking; announcing political new comers Sam Taylor for the East and Jo Wrigley for West – both strong social justice advocates.  In other minor parties; anti-establishment – The Opportunities party, has announced they are standing a candidate in the West; Donna Pokere-Phillips, previously an Alliance candidate (1999).  They haven’t yet made mention of Hamilton East.  Waving a yellow flag in Hamilton East is James McDowall for the Act party.  We’re still to find out if New Zealand First will have a candidate run in Hamilton; as Barbara Stewart a list MP will not be standing for re-election.  Mana and Maori haven’t announced Hamilton city candidates to date.

It’s fair to say apart from a smattering of billboards going up on prominent fences around town, we haven’t seen much action yet … I hope that will change… we deserve a fight for our vote.  What would I personally like to see?  Hamiltonian’s asking incumbents the hard questions – 9 years is plenty of time for National to make an impact in the areas they want to change.  I’d like to see them be held accountable.  I think given they are holding portfolios now, I’d also like to know how much time they can spend on constituent issues.  In terms of potential newcomers – will they have the clout to really make an impact?  What do they bring to the table that we currently don’t have with our experienced National MP’s.  I have no doubt that most people’s electorate vote mirrors their party vote – and in Hamilton being a bellwether seat it swings, which is why it’s so interesting to watch… will you be following it too?

Bustle, a nest of ethical fashion

Bustle Hamilton
Visit Bustle for beautiful, ethical and quality clothing.

Bustle caters for women who love fashion with a conscience.  Susie’s carefully curated collections are a mix of new and recycled designer fashion.


She also stocks NZ label Widdess who are known for simple styles with natural textiles.  No need for me to tell you that that makes it socially and environmentally ethical.



The clothing is beautifully complemented by Hydrangea Ranger, another small New Zealand business who handcrafts whimsical gifts and accessories.

Hydrangea Ranger: Lotus hands incense or flower holder
Acorn necklaces… aren’t these gorgeous?

In these times of fast fashion, it’s refreshing to find a business which does the opposite with small quantities of high quality fashion. To read more about ethical fashion.

Bustle is open from 10-4pm Thursday and Friday and 10-3pm Saturday.  Make sure you give the page a like for updates and follow @bustle_river_road on Instagram.  

Kelli from the Tron – 2 June

It might sound cliche to say young people are our future – but its true, so I’ll say it anyway.  This week is Youth Week 2017 “Our voices count, Count our voices” and Hamilton has heaps of young people working hard, following their passions and sharing it with others.  They are tomorrow’s leaders – no netflixing and chilling happening here.

So on this week’s show I spoke to Tsar Marsters – recognised in 2015 (at the age of 21) for his contribution to street dance.  One of the reasons I find this awesome is because his passion helps to fosters a spark in others and inspires them to strive for more for themselves too.  You can hear more about him in this HCC video; and of course on this week’s show.

Coincidentally, applications are open to nominate another 30 under 30.  Check out the Hamilton city council’s website to hear more.

I tried my hardest to get Hayden, bass player from Half Eaten Pie on the show, but phones were against us, I’ll try again next week.  I’m keen to talk to them, because they took out the Waikato regional smokefree rockquest for the second year in a row! and it’s well deserved.

Because, we’ve wrapped up Hamilton music month, and reflecting on the relevance of NZ Music month for another year, I put a challenge out there for people to try and get to more live gigs. That’s where it’s at… not in your car or on your i-pod.  In a month I heard music ranging from punk, stoner rock, dub, acoustic, jazz and rock and enjoyed each gig for different reasons.

MUSIC this week…. On this weeks’ show, I’ve played Jimmy, from local band Cheshire Grimm – because they’ve just released a new video.

I also played System Corporations‘ new single “Dismal universal hiss” because it hit the European Indie top 200, and that’s pretty cool.  Ignore they say they’re from Stockholm on their page… they’re ours – with links to local favs Rumpus Room; who’s song “Step around” was played on the show this week too.  Even though technology failed, I played a Half Eaten Pie track, “Take it”.  Finally, because I’m super excited about the gig on Friday the 16th June I played “Holy Moses” from Tami Neilson.

That’s it for another week!  #supportlocal everyone.

Kelli from the Tron airs at 10am on Friday, tune into FreeFM89.0 in the Waikato, or via their website to listen live.  It also airs at 9am on Saturday morning.  You can listen to the podcast 24/7 too.