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Gizzy On Wheels

It was the late 80s, and I was five years old. My life was dominated by boldly patterned colourful skirts, and roller-skates. Those roller-skates were a big part of my identity. 

I remember strapping them on my feet in place of shoes every morning. My sister and I would skate down to Central School and spend hours skating around the smooth concrete. I learnt to navigate all the cracks in the footpaths, memorising the places with the smoothest concrete. I still remember how it felt to ride across the different surfaces; concrete, wood, tiles; the awkward step-skate required to traverse gravel, grass or carpet. 

I even had my own ‘work arounds’ to deal with No Skating rules; by lightly stepping in my skates people were less likely to notice them, and I’d tie my shoes together by the laces, and have them slung over my shoulder in case I was caught. 

I was obsessed. If anyone asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I confidently replied “an ice skater”. I had all the self-assurance of a small child with limited understanding of how climate works. I can still remember the disappointment of learning my dream wasn’t going to be possible due to the lack of ice in Gisborne. 

Thanks to a couple of young Gisborne women, there is now a regular outlet and encouraging space for all of the wheely dreams and obsessions of Gisborne skaters of all ages.

Sisters Adriana and Angel Hoogland are the organisers of Gizzy on Wheels, a weekly skating event held on the basketball court at the YMCA. Held in the basketball court, the smooth flooring lends itself perfectly to roller-skating, the kind of surface I could only dream about when I was a child. 

Two years ago, Adriana Hoogland attended a travelling roller disco that came to Gisborne. Adriana enjoyed herself so much and was disappointed it was only a one-off event. Following the roller disco she took to her skates more often and skating around town, she took the comments of passersby on board..

“my kid loves skating but there’s nowhere good for them to roller-skate”

“I used to do that when I was young, I wish I could get back into it”.

The more Adriana thought about it, the more she realised how much Gizzy needed something like this - a regular skating space for the community. And she knew that it was something she wanted to be involved in! 

So it was this idea that Adriana took to Startup Weekend organised by the Tāiki e! crew. She pitched the idea for a regular skate event and with the team that formed around her idea that weekend, created a business plan. Following the weekend, she took the concept home to her sister Angel, and together they honed the business plan, as they continued to practice their skating, fine tune their skills and moves. In August 2023 Gizzy on Wheels was born.  

A couple of weeks ago my daughter and I turned up to the YMCA court filled with young skaters gliding around to pumping pop music. It was easy to spot Adriana and Angel in their green ‘Gizzy on Wheels’ t-shirts (newly designed by Urban-Era-Designs and now available to order!). They moved seamlessly between demonstrating moves and taking less confident skaters by the hand for a lap around the orange cones. 

I managed to wrangle my almost-four year old into her skates (which we happened to have just been given a couple of days before). I took her onto the floor, awkwardly walking her around before she was swept up by Adriana and Angel and guided around the court. She loved it and after a short break, was keen to get back out there, alone! She fed off Adriana and Angel’s confidence and was stoked to be able to be independent. 

The evening was energy-filled with a blend of free skating and guided tutoring. There were games - Traffic Light, Statues and Freeze, which are not only fun but also teach the skills required to skate, start, stop, and fall … with dignity and grace. 

My daughter was reluctant to leave and upon waking the next morning asked when we could go back to ‘the roller-skating’. While she is still working out what days of the week are, I get the feeling it may be a long wait between Fridays. 

Gizzy on Wheels is held at the YMCA, Fridays, 5:30 - 7pm. It is open to all ages and abilities and costs $10 on the door. Numbers are limited so it pays to arrive early.

By Emma Carlyle

Pics Sarah Cleave


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