News, Events and Culture

Junne Bendall: Civic Award winner 2017

Monday December 11 2017

Whether you’ve pondered if the Numbers sculpture contains a secret code or marvelled at the kinetic quality of Giants Amongst Us, Junne Bendall’s voluntary work has touched all Palmerstonians and visitors alike.

Photo shows 2017 Civic Honour recipient Junne Bendall with a bronze sculpture in her garden.

Junne Bendall was honoured with a Civic Award this year, recognising her service to the Palmerston North Public Sculpture Trust, Centrepoint Theatre and the city’s arts and culture sector.

Junne has chaired the Palmerston North Public Sculpture Trust since its inception in 2006, successfully leading the fundraising, selection and installation of nine sculptures in the central city. She recently retired from the trust as the 10-year project reached an end.

She says the sculptures, which also include Cityscape, Who’s Afraid and Nga Huruhuru Rangatira, have helped lift the city as is fitting for a regional centre.

The sculptures become part and parcel of the urban landscape... they add an extra dimension to a very flat city. I think they're a form of art that's open to everybody. They just add a bit of vibrancy.

Junne Bendall

Theatre and teaching

Junne grew up in Hāwera and it was there her love of theatre was fostered.

She moved to Wellington to gain a Bachelor of Arts in English from Victoria University, then to Christchurch graduating from Christchurch Teachers’ College. Junne also has a Diploma in Education from Massey University and a Licentiate in Speech and Drama from Trinity College London.

In 1960 she married Bill and moved to Palmerston North. “So I suppose I’m permanent really, aren’t I,” Junne quips.

She taught at Palmerston North Girls’ High School, Palmerston North Teachers’ College, Palmerston North Boys’ High School and Massey University College of Education. Sharing her love of drama and English both inside and outside the classroom was a big part of Junne’s teaching career.

When a group of local theatre lovers sought to establish a professional theatre company in the city, Junne became involved. In 1973, she become one of the first trustees of Centrepoint Theatre.

From 1977 to 1980, Junne took children’s drama classes at Centrepoint. “The classes were in the rehearsal room. It was always full of boxes so we worked them into the classes.”

With two Teachers’ College colleagues, Junne formed the Children’s Literature Association, an organisation that supported teachers to promote literacy among young readers.

She helped organise the biennial Youth Festival, celebrating the music and drama skills of primary and secondary school students.

Grand campaign

Junne was part of the Steinway concert grand piano fundraising committee for the Regent on Broadway. She organised what she believes was the first art auction in Palmerston North.

“I had to strongarm all the good artists in the area to donate something and they did, they were wonderful.”

Through an intensive campaign of six events the committee raised the required $200,000. Fundraising coordinator Susan McConachy says Junne’s energy, commitment, enthusiasm and positive, cheerful manner made working on the campaign a pleasure.

Since 2002, Junne has been a member of the advisory board for three performing arts trusts. These are now under the Performing Arts Palmerston North umbrella and managed by Perpetual Guardian.

For about 12 years Junne was a volunteer driver for the Cancer Society, taking patients to appointments. She would also deliver pamphlets around the city for the society and continues to help each Daffodil Day.

As Junne’s friend Morva Croxson says, Junne just gets on and does things.

None of Junne’s four children live locally so she isn’t “called on to be a nana”, allowing her more time to serve the community.

“I think you have to pay back if you can; you give to a community or it isn’t a community.

“You like the place you’re living in to be ticking over well.”

She says her husband, Bill, is a marvellous supporter of her volunteer work. Also active in the community, Bill was a member of the sculpture trust, too.

Thanks to their service and that of the other trustees, locals and visitors alike will continue to photograph, debate and interact with the sculptures for decades to come.

This is the second story in a series profiling the three Palmerston North people honoured with Civic Awards this year.