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Pat and Colleen Matthews’ Ngātea home transforms into a Christmas wonderland every year. Photo: KELLEY TANTA

Christmas lights a passion for pair

Broken down by numbers, there are 43 plugs in and around Colleen and Pat Matthews’ house, 48 solar panels, 140 batteries, and tens of thousands of lights.
But the number of people who have been entertained and enthralled by the Christmas displays put on by the Ngātea pair since 2010 is more difficult to calculate, yet their encouragement is what keeps the lights turned on.
Colleen and Pat are in their 13th year of decking out their Benner Dr abode with candy canes, twinkling bulbs, and Christmas trees, all to celebrate the festive season.
At night, the house is so bright you can see it as you round the bend, they told The Profile in the lead-up to Christmas.
“We started off doing little things, putting a few lights around and then improving on that. Now, every year I get told I’m not buying any more lights, but we do always end up buying more,” Pat said.
The kindred spirits use ingenuity to make their displays last. A Christmas tree was part of the show for a decade before finally rusting out. There’s also a hand-made ‘Merry Xmas’ sign that is put on the front lawn each year.
They also come up with new and improved ways of doing things.

“I’d been dragging lights over the roof for years, pulling string and tennis balls, then one day in the middle of the night, I thought: why don’t I just get long sticks and push them up with my fingers?” Colleen said.
Numbers-wise, she reckons Pat spent five hours a day for three weeks – around 200 hours – to mentally prepare and hang the lights ahead of December.
“I have a bench out there that I work on, and there’s soldering irons and there’s glue guns… you get half-way through and you get sick of it, but when it’s all up and it goes, you get the pleasure of seeing other people enjoy it,” Pat said.
The couple said their home has become known for its bright displays, and some nights, they can be outside talking with passers-by for “at least an hour or two”.
And it’s not only Christmas they look forward to each year.
Pat and Colleen also transform the property into a haunted house come Halloween – last year featuring Pat in a scary clown costume with skeletons and ghouls and monsters.
“You always wonder if it’s going to be worth it, but peoples comments give you a kick out of it,” Pat said.
“Plus,” Colleen added. “We like having a challenge.”