2 Minutes with ...


The winner of the Arts & Culture category at the Tawa Community Civic Awards in July 2008 was a person who ... has been the main organiser and the driving force behind the Tawa Schools and Community Festivals. The first music festival was in 1979. The 2008 festival*, "Tawa Goes to Town", was her twentieth.

Quoting from the 2008 Civic Awards script: "These festivals have brought the community together and established Tawa as a strong centre of music in Wellington. The participation of the primary schools and the Intermediate has encouraged children's interest in music throughout their schooling, and goes a long way to explain why the choirs are so big and popular at Tawa College. Shona puts in many hours of voluntary time in the selection of a festival theme, choice of music, rehearsal practices for 600 to 700 schoolchildren during the week and the adult choir on Sunday afternoons, and the performances themselves. She is a taonga of Tawa College and the Tawa community."

Where were you born, Shona?
Hshuchang, China.

Where did you grow up?
China until the age of 7, one year in Queenstown, 6 years in Gore, then Tawa.

What high school/university did you go to?
Gore High for year 9, then year 10 onwards at Mana College; Wellington Teacher's College, then Victoria University to complete a Bachelor of Music in Performance Pipe Organ; I also studied for an LRSM and LTCL in piano from the Royal & Trinity Schools of Music in London.

What has been your line of work?
Music education in all its facets, especially composing and performing. HOD Music at Tawa College from 1982-2006. For ten years Chief Moderator and examiner for School Certificate and University Bursaries Music in New Zealand. Now enjoying being part time at Tawa College.

What about family?
Married to Bruce. We have 3 daughters, 1 son, and 8 grandchildren*.

What are your interests/hobbies?
Other than music - reading, embroidery, photography, creative technology, musicals & choirs.

How long have you lived in Tawa?
Since 1957.

What do you think is great about Tawa?
It's quite unique in that as a community it has a strong voluntary commitment to working together in the arts, in the schools, the churches, and in sports in a very collaborative way. A "village atmosphere" on the outskirts of a world-class city.

What, if anything, would improve Tawa?
It would be lovely to have a venue in Tawa that could be used for 'middle-size' performances - performing arts, etc.

What is your favourite dessert?
Red currants with icing sugar and runny cream.

Favourite sports person?
Rafael Nadal - I'm a passionate tennis watcher.

Favourite style of music?
Whatever music I'm involved in at the time. Show music, baroque instrumental, classical through to rock. Elton John, Karen Carpenter, Schubert, Mozart, Bach.

Favourite holiday destination in New Zealand?

Favourite saying?
"Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might!"

If you could meet any two people (alive or dead), who would they be?
Hildegard of Bingen (12th Century);  John Bunyan.

What three things would you take with you if you were stuck on a desert island?
My Macbook with all my photos and other creative things I could use, a keyboard of some kind, a cellphone.

What is one talent you would like that you do not have?
I would like to be able to play the drums (before I'm 80).

What is one talent you have that you could not do without?
The ability to play the piano.

What is one accomplishment/achievement in your life that gives you much satisfaction/pride?
I am inspired to see the lives that I've had a link to, go on to achieve fulfilment with their talents or gifts beyond what they ever would have thought possible.

What are three things you would like to do before you die?
To return to my roots in China to re-learn the Chinese language;
to take a camper van trip from one end of New Zealand to the other;
to go to the Australian Open and watch Nadal play.

Compiled June 2009.

* November 2010 update:
Shona was Musical Director for a further "Tawa Goes to Town" in September 2010, making it the 21st music festival in which she has played a key role. And she now has 9 grandchildren.

Other Tawa people