Students mix it up for balls

Voting for king and queen at the ball is a popular tradition, with Jennifer Thomas and Ken Finlayson picking up the title for Rodney College last year.

Mahurangi College

Location: Crowne Plaza, Auckland, 128 Albert Street.
Date and time: July 28, meet at Mahurangi College 5.45pm for transport.
Ticket price: $130
Participants: 250 (approx.) 20 staff members.
Theme: Hanami (Japanese cherry blossom festival)

This year, Mahurangi College head prefects are hoping to wow their fellow students by emphasising the ball’s theme of Hanami – the traditional Japanese cherry blossom festival.

A cherry tree will be the centre piece at the venue, with a mix of lanterns and parasols for decoration. Japanese cuisine is on the menu and tickets will be folded to depict origami swans.

Organising the ball is Toby Swann-McKay, Liana Sykes, Jackson Crawford and Claudia Munro.

“Last year we felt the Mexican theme was a good idea but wasn’t prominent enough, so this time we want a particular focus on the theme without going over the top,” Jackson says.

The theme was identified during a treasure hunt and the student who discovered it first was awarded a half-price ball ticket.

The evening will begin with dinner followed by dancing and dessert. Things will wrap up with a slow dance.

Students and staff will vote on an emperor and empress of the ball and a prince and princess.

The venue for the ball will be The Crowne Plaza.

“We looked at a couple of other options, such as Alexandra Park and Eden Park, but having used the plaza last year we know how well the space works for a ball event,” Jackson says.

A DJ will organise music for the night and the school band, The Mangroves, will play a one-hour set.

Organiser Q&A

How much would you expect a boy and a girl to spend going to the ball?
For a boy, it’s probably about $270 all up. That’s for a suit, haircut and expenses incurred to ask a date to the ball. For girls, you might be looking at anything up to $900. That’s for a dress, shoes, hair, make up and accessories.

What are popular ball fashion choices this year for boys and girls?
For boys, it’s a mix of suit colours – pretty much whatever options are available from Hallensteins. Red dresses are in for girls at the moment and spaghetti straps. Cut outs are also popular.

How many people take a date and should the tie match the dress?
A lot of people go with friend groups rather than take a date, unless they are in a relationship The tie doesn’t need to match. It’s more important that the overall appearance of the couple together is appealing.

What is the key to a good ball?
Good music for the night and a good group of people makes it.

Rodney College

Location: The Stables Restaurant, Matakana Country Park, 1151 Leigh Road.
Date and time: July 28, meet at the venue at 7pm.
Ticket price: $95
Participants: 220 (approx.) 10 staff members.
Theme: None

Kaci Jones and Connor Goodall have taken the opposite approach to Mahurangi this year by removing the ball theme entirely.

The two social action leaders decided to rely on the atmosphere of the venue to spark the night.

“In the past, people have never really committed to the theme and The Stables is a great place so we just decided to scrap the idea completely,” Connor says.

This will also be the first Rodney ball at the Stables. Ascension Wine Estate was the venue in 2016 and the Wellsford Community Centre.

The Stables will do the catering and will be assisted by six Year 10 students who will be serving for the night.

“We are not opting for a sit-down dinner as we are restricted on space. We feel the atmosphere will carry better through the evening if people can get their own food as they wish,” Kaci says.

The Rodney ball is open to students from Year 11 to Year 13, meaning teachers will vote for a king and queen, prince and princess, and beau and belle.

A DJ will manage the music on the night, with students contributing their song choices to a Spotify playlist prior to the event.

Getting students to the big night out

From left, Dianne Barnes, Maxine Axford, Tui McLeod and Melanie Torkington.

Rodney College student Tui McLeod has set her sights on getting every student to the ball, after realising the cost of attending is a barrier for some.

The Year 11 girl approached Healing Through Arts and Actions Trust founder Maxine Axford about the idea.

“She came to me with the proactive idea of collecting dresses and make up from people to donate to others so they can afford to go to the ball,” Maxine says. “We wanted it to be a ‘pay it back’ programme though, so anyone who utilises the service will have to do some community volunteer work in exchange for it.” Tui helped push the cause by singing on the street in Warkworth, alongside Te Waka Youth service manager Melanie Torkington, with a donation box. “It’s great the response we’ve had already, people have been very generous and sympathetic towards the idea,” Tui says.

To support the initiative, drop off any ball appropriate clothing, make up and jewellery to Coconut Gallery in Warkworth on Thursdays and Fridays or Te Waka Youth in Wellsford. A pre-ball make up session will be held at Te Waka on July 28 from noon onwards for any Rodney students to attend.