Auckland ‘Fairy Godmother’ Jo Lyes has been recognised for her outstanding work in the community, bringing joy to children and parents alike with her magical Fairy Houses.
Wilderness Motorhomes has announced the winner of its ‘Nominate a Community Hero’ campaign, an initiative that asked New Zealanders to nominate an individual who stepped up and made a real difference during the lockdown.
66-year-old Jo Lyes, from Hobsonville Point, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, has won this accolade thanks to the many magical Fairy Houses she has lovingly created, installed, and maintained.
Jo’s daughter Amy Lyes nominated her Mother Jo – best-known by locals as ‘Fairy Godmother’ – praising her work for its escapism, inspiration, and enjoyment to kids and parents alike.
Jo began to make Fairy Houses out of recycled and organic materials in the first New Zealand lockdown in 2020, placing them on trees in Hobsonville Point’s Onekiritea Park in Auckland.
The idea originated with the desire to give families something other than COVID to think about, and want to provide a magical discovery during outdoor walks.
Starting with one house, this has grown to approximately 25 houses and 50 doors.
What is now known as ‘Fairy Works’ enjoys hundreds of visitors a day and is even recognised as an attraction on Google Maps.
In recognition of the outstanding contribution and dedication, Jo has shown to her community and beyond, Wilderness Motorhomes is providing her with a 7-day premium motorhome road trip for two people.
A family business run by John Managh and his sister Mary, Wilderness is a premium motorhome offering that allows Kiwis to experience their backyard’s wonders or show off New Zealand’s unique and wild places to international travellers.
Mary Hamilton, Director of Wilderness Motorhomes, says, “We are delighted to announce Jo Lyes as the winner of our competition. She is a true ‘Community Hero’: someone that gives back to those around them, going above and beyond. The fact that the Fairy Houses spread so much joy and wonderment among children and adults during an otherwise tough and challenging time showed us how important Jo’s work is. Not to mention – Jo’s Fairy Homes give people a reason to go for a walk and enjoy the outdoors, as well as learn to protect our earth: which is in line with our own philosophy of encouraging exploration and appreciation of New Zealand’s beautiful scenery.”
The Hobsonville Point community has named the magical Fairy House collection a ‘Community Treasure’.
Making a deliberate decision to place the houses in a public park so that everyone could enjoy them, Jo has spent 1000s of hours creating and repairing plus maintaining her houses.
In addition, her husband Rex has organised two seasonal ‘Fairy Light Festivals’ during summer and autumn, attracting 3,000 people in just one weekend.
Jo Lyes, Creator of Fairy Works, says, “I can’t believe Wilderness has recognised me as a Community Hero! It came as a complete surprise. During the first lockdown, I heard that parents were struggling to encourage their children to get out of the house, and that’s where the idea to make Fairy Houses came from. The houses bring the community and visitors together safely outside to escape the current challenges of everyday life and encourage them to use their imagination. I love noticing children’s excitement when peering into the Fairy House windows, and many kids have been inspired to make their own.
“My husband Rex has played a big part in the attraction’s success too, so of course I will be taking him on the road trip with me. We’d love to travel around the South Island with our motorhome road trip prize. There are plans to expand Fairy Works, so it would be the perfect opportunity to scope out destinations, as well as enjoy a relaxing break together,” Lyes continued.
Jo’s daughter Amy Lyes comments: “My mum deserves this award, and I am so proud of what she has achieved. She is constantly receiving messages on the Fairy Works social channels and in person, thanking her for her work. It has given the community something to look forward to and helped many people throughout our strict lockdowns. The Fairy Houses have created a destination for people to come together and connect, be inspired, and enjoy picnics in a truly magical setting.
Like Fairy Works, Wilderness is fully committed to the environment, having developed The Wilderness Environmental Care Code (ECC), which outlines its actions to minimise its impact on the environment and helps guests do the same.
Wilderness prides itself on its ‘no road restrictions’ policy, which means travellers can explore spectacular, off-the-beaten-track spots.
Being a family company, each traveller is treated as such.
When booking a Wilderness motorhome, guests can even enjoy exclusive access to secret camping spots that only locals know about.