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June 2009

Mucking In honours Wesley College favourite

By Marie Sherry

Wesley College art department head Miriam Chainey has had her backyard transformed into a European masterpiece by TV One’s Mucking In programme.

Miriam was nominated for the programme last year by her Wesley College colleagues, who recognised her huge contribution to school life.

Mucking In is a show where a community joins together to repay someone who has done so much for them. The recipients are sent away for a weekend, while the Mucking In crew join forces with local businesses and community people to create a fantastic new garden for them in a weekend.

Wesley College deputy principal Roger Biddle says Miriam has a long history as an artist and a contributor to the college at Paerata, near Pukekohe.

"Miriam has some of her own work exhibited internationally and she works tirelessly for our kids in terms of developing their art," he says.

"She has a real talent in bringing out the skills the kids reveal. It was about the time and energy she puts into her students. She regularly gets 100 percent pass in her art in national assessments. She’s here nights during the week with her art students and the quality of work those kids produce is unbelievable."

Head of Wesley College’s art department Miriam Chainey has had her backyard transformed on television.

Roger says Miriam is like a mother to her students.

"She can be stern and decisive but can also be very motherly and loving – the kids love her."

A huge crew of Wesley College staff, students and Miriam’s family and friends took part in transforming her Glenbrook Beach home in early April.

Roger says the hardest part was keeping it a secret until Mucking In was ready to reveal to Miriam last October that she had been chosen.

Work started on the Friday morning, with the school’s First 15 rugby team lending a hand with some of the heavy lifting.

"We arrived there early in the morning and farewelled Miriam and her husband. Then shortly after they had gone the big diggers and earthmoving gear and trucks all came in. It was just amazing," he says.

"We transformed her backyard into a European garden setting with columns, urns, a water feature and beautiful planting. It was all designed by Tony Murrell."

Miriam was gobsmacked with the transformation of her property.

"They got back on the Sunday afternoon and we were all there to welcome her back. A little feature of her return was that unbeknown to the TV people she had painted portraits of Tony and Jim Mora and she presented those as an appreciation," Roger says.

"It was really a great community occasion. It was fun, but hard work."