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Supporting the region’s children

A beautiful historic context is woven into the Canterbury landscape, but perhaps one of the most poignant of them all is the story behind a little Canterbury haven known as Cholmondeley Children’s Centre, in a dip off the main highway through Governors Bay.



Hugh Heber Cholmondeley and his beloved wife Margaret, known affectionately as Mary, had been unable to have children of their own and when Mary died unexpectedly, Hugh decided to purchase land in Governors Bay that had been owned by nuns and built a children’s home to meet the needs of the city’s young people – at 6 Cholmondeley Lane.

Known simply as Cholmondeley – pronounced Chum-Lee – 94 years later it still continues to meet those needs with short-term and emergency respite care and education for children from 3 to 12 years, and support for their families. “He gave everything he had to the children of Canterbury,” Cholmondeley Chief Executive Arron Perriam explains.

“While the challenges facing Canterbury children in the early 1920s were largely health-focused, with infantile plague, influenza and tuberculosis, today’s children are affected by many issues including the breakdown of the family unit. We work to enhance the wellbeing of children and their families, continuing to honour Hugh’s vision by supporting the children of Canterbury.”

Just metres away is the original homestead, which has supported more than 25,000 Canterbury children since its opening in 1925, before being demolished after irreparable damage was sustained in the February 2011 earthquake. Its $6.5 million replacement was officially opened by Prime Minister John Key in 2015 and the need for its services has continued to grow.

The largely community-funded Governors Bay organisation has experienced an unprecedented demand for its care and education services, with a 150 percent increase in the number of children in its care post-quake. Today more than 500 children stay at Cholmondeley each year.

Cholmondeley provides wrap-around services, designed to empower our young people by extending themselves educationally, physically and emotionally, with registered teachers, social workers and child youth care practitioners. “What we provide is residential care, but what we actually do is about so much more than that,” Arron says. “We’re providing a loving, caring, secure environment for Canterbury children which at its heart, is about healing our community.”

Last month Cholmondeley held a street appeal as part of its inaugural Little Gems Awareness Month. “There’s an assumption that we’re doing well but the reality is we’re running at a deficit and have been for many years,” Arron says. “These services we believe are essential for our Canterbury community, the demand is not going away and the need to provide these services is now stronger than ever.”

The increased need for Cholmondeley’s care services is the result of ongoing stressors facing families, including bereavement, financial difficulties, mental or physical illness and family violence, with the effects of the earthquakes and the Christchurch massacre having a devastating toll.

“That same spirit of generosity that saw the formation of Cholmondeley in the early 1920s is still alive today and the fact that our wonderful Canterbury community continues to provide support for other families enables Cholmondeley to do what we do.

“That’s something Canterbury can be really proud of.”


Son of a Gunn: Q&A with Jason Gunn

Jason Gunn has spent the bigger portion of his career lighting up television sets and now he’s got the radio airwaves buzzing.


The beloved entertainer doesn’t pull punches and tells it like it is, but with a true warmth and empathy that comes from a heart of gold. So it’s not surprising that Jason Gunn is turning his charitable hand to supporting Cholmondely Childrens Centre. We catch up with the son of a Gunn about his life in the limelight.


You have recently added ‘tech designer’ to your list of credentials, how did this come about?
The folk at Slingshot came to me with this amazing opportunity to design a modem – as in… the outside of the modem… I have no idea what goes on inside. So I got together with a professional designer (my original stick drawings were never gonna cut it) and we came up with my ‘piece of art’ which is all about ‘Staying Connected’ with friends and whanau.

Cholmondeley is a fantastic charity to align yourself with, why did you choose this one?
Cholmondeley is a magical place that does so much good for families in Canterbury. When things are tough at home, Cholmondeley allows kids to stay for a while so things can settle down and the kids can return to a happy home. They help families from all over Canterbury – the only problem is not enough of us know about Cholmondeley and they need our support to support these families.

How does it feel to get the opportunity to use your profile to support such good causes?
What’s the point of having any sort of ‘profile’ if you don’t do good with it? I see so many people out there trying to push their brand and profile just so they can get more free stuff and more money. The greatest feeling is giving back to others. And by giving to Cholmondeley you are giving to so many others.

You’ve also recently started a campaign to get Kiwi icon Thingee back on TV. It’s been 25 years, how much do you miss him?
I can’t start to explain how much I miss him. I am so over what so much of TV is about. All this unscripted reality is so ridiculously scripted and the furthest thing from reality. It dumbs us down!
Bringing Thingee back is all about clever, heartfelt, light-hearted entertainment that takes us back to simple times when we lived in the now a lot more.

You are one of the most recognised faces on New Zealand television. Why do you think New Zealand has connected so strongly with you?
Those are very kind words. I think I’ve just been me. I haven’t tried to be someone else. I don’t think I’m special in any way. I guess I connect well with people – I enjoy enabling others to shine.
I remember meeting a few big egos early on and thinking I never want to be like that. I’ve tried to stay relatable and I’m just like those people that watch me – I get so bloody excited if I meet someone actually famous and there’s always a drama going on somewhere in my life. As a parent there’s always a lot of balls in the air and like all parents you just want to spend as much time with your kids as you can. Family comes first.

It’s heading up to a year in April since you were joined by Jay-Jay in the afternoons from 3-7pm on MoreFM and it’s an amazing partnership! How has it been going?
JayJay is an incredible broadcaster. But more so she is amazing with her listeners and fans. When you walk down the street people come up to her all the time and she always stops to chat and makes them feel important. That’s a real gift. She’s very patient with my stories too and puts up with my hatred towards reality TV very well!

What have been some of your biggest standout career highlights?
I’ve been lucky enough to meet some well-known people – Prince Charles and Michael J Fox were highlights. I’ve travelled to some amazing places – we’ve broadcast live from Stewart Island, Universal Studios and Tokyo… But the real highlight is the New Zealanders I’ve met. The everyday people like me who just love living here and have a story to tell. And it’s a bloody good story! The visits to schools and I think the visits to hospitals are the two biggest highlights; being able to use your so called ‘profile’ for good. And trust me… things are very quickly put into respective when you are sitting with children in hospital!

What has the rest of 2019 got in store for you?
I am so excited to launch my new business I’ve talked about it for years and now I’m doing it. I want to teach others how to be at their best in front of an audience on stage, on camera and online. I’ve managed to somehow build a career on just saying a few words… and now I want to enable others to do the same. Email me!



Be a gem! – Cholmondeley

Everyone is invited to attend The Little Gems Project for Cholmondeley – where the theme for the night will be ‘Denim, Diamonds and Dancing’.




Saturday evening May 4 at Sixty6 on Peterborough is the chance to dig out the denim, put on some sparkle and join MC Jason Gunn for an evening of live entertainment, delicious canapes, a live auction and plenty of dancing.

“The Little Gems Project is based on the concept that Cholmondeley believes there is a diamond within all of us,” Cholmondeley’s Fundraising and Marketing Manager Tanya Cooke says.
“We want to bring out the inner sparkle in every precious Canterbury child – our Little Gems.”

Cholmondeley Children’s Centre provides short-term emergency and planned respite care and education to children aged 3-12 years who have families that are experiencing stress or crisis. “Cholmondeley Children’s Centre is a charitable organisation that is 80 percent community funded, we rely on the generosity of individuals and businesses. The Little Gems Project for Cholmondeley will raise funds so we can continue our vital service and to support our Little Gems and their families.”


Get ready to sparkle for Cholmondeley Children’s Centre, at The Little Gems Project, on Saturday, May 4 at 7pm, at Sixty6 on Peterborough. Tickets are available at

#littlegemsproject #sparkleforcholmondeley #sharethesparkle