Chapter 4 Belda School of Deportment and Modelling – Invercargill

From our first school in rented premises, Invercargill Belda has it’s own Home

As Reported in the Southland Daily Times 23/1/74

When the academic year opens next month.  Belda, Southland’s School of Deportment and Modelling, will have its own home.

After years in rented premises, the Belda School of Deportment and Modelling will be established in its own building and will provide all the amenities a school requires for the easy handling of the programmes it offers.

Belda Principal Mrs Fran Muntz is delighted with the spacious brick and roughcast home which will house the school.  It is on Dee Street, right opposite the Gladstone Shopping Centre and but a short bus ride from the city, is a convenient walk from the northern suburbs and will have a roomy parking area for people from all over town.

The main studio is enormous, well light by windows to the north and west and by special lighting to enable students to practise the showing off of clothes and makeup to the best advantage.  With gold carpeting and woodwork throughout, the salon is attractive, feminine and pleasant.

Dressing rooms and suntanning cubicles will enable Mrs Muntz to provide facilities long needed.  Since she took over the school in 1967, classes have been held at the Y.M.C.A.  Both the rebuilding of the Y.M.C.A and the growth of Belda itself highlighted the need for a permanent home and the house at 445 Dee Street will be just that.

Mrs  Muntz herself was a student graduating with honours in the early 1960’s from one of the first groups to pass through the school previously named “Jason’ School of Deportment and Modelling.

She later trained as a hairdresser, beautician and in 1967, on her return to Invercargill, took over the school. Since then approximately 900 young and not so young women have passed through courses, designed to give them the confidence and poise, life in the 70’s calls for.  Mrs Muntz youngest students have been girls from 15 to oldest woman in her 70’s.  The two ends of the scale have differing needs, from the teenager who lacks the “know-how” of growing up with femininity and the grandmother, who finds herself lacking confidence while out of touch with modern clothing and skincare – makeup techniques.

In between the schoolgirls and young working girls, young mothers, career girls, women working or returning to the workforce…. all sorts of people who benefit from a concentrated long term course designed to help the student find her best points and make the most of them.

Deportment courses pave the gateway to Modelling courses, undertaken by those interested in progressing a stage further.

Mrs Muntz herself has wide experience as a model, both in New Zealand, where she is the only Southland member of the NZ Association Modelling Association and Member of the American Modelling Association.

She has trained many local ladies as models and each year a number of her students do well in contests such as designed to find the province’s representatives in the Miss New Zealand contest or the province Miss Southland and Miss Personality Contest.

Sometimes the order has been reversed and a girl wins a contest only to find she needs a little extra coaching in order to compete with others at a national level – she then becomes a Belda student.

Over the years Mrs Ingrid Poole, herself an Honours graduate from an earlier Belda class, has become a Belda tutor at the school and this year will be actively involved in helping Mrs Muntz run courses.

At the examinations held each year at Belda, the progress of Modelling students are assessed by experienced judges from further north.  Invariably their comments show that the work done in the Southland scene is of a high standard. Comparing more than favourably with the results achieved at Deportment and Modelling schools in other parts of Australasia.

Mrs Muntz has done photographic and fashion modelling overseas originally on the strength of her experience and a number of her students have a goal to achieve these assignments also – through their training and becoming a “Belda Girl”  ” 

Belda House

This was an ideal location on the main Northern street into the city, an older home with lots of potential, to make changes.  Neville is a master at paint and papering and we converted half the house into the business and the other half for family.  Our children travelled everywhere with us from the time they were born (hence their travel bug they both have today!)

The front of the house had an internal wall removed to give us a great studio.  We also established a Belda Beauty Centre out of a large double garage at the back of the property, which gave clients and student the facility for all their beauty therapy and makeup services.

Spotlight on Daphne Ronald


One of our early students at 445 Dee Street was Daphne Ronald, who travelled from Wairio for classes.  Daphne had the same passion for Belda, as I did and went through all the courses with flying colours.  Once she graduated I asked her to take the position of “Associate Director”  which she agreed to.  Daphne treated Belda as her project and assisted in all aspects of running the school, from being a tutor, supporting the students, decorating!  (Daphne has wonderful talent as an interior decorator, from wallpapering, sewing drapes, cushions, you name it – whatever was necessary).

Daphne and I travelled a lot together and conducted classes in Rural locations and then when we branched out to Belda Schools in Dunedin and Christchurch was an interlingual part in those developments.

Our successes were in great part due to Daphne’s contribution to Belda and a wonderful friend to have alongside every step of the way.

Daphne’s Story

My first introduction to Fran Muntz and Belda School of Deportment & Modelling was in 1973.  Two friends, Vida Galvin & Pauline Maxwell, and I, decided to do the 15 weeks deportment course which included skincare, makeup, haircare, fashion etc.

We thoroughly enjoyed our weekly classes in Invercargill.  We chose to continue on to the modelling course, finishing with an exam and graduation.

Vida was chosen as the top model for that year.

Shortly after finishing the modelling course, Fran asked me if I would join the team as associate director.  Fran and I travelled extensively to take courses around the Southland and Otago areas.  We also travelled to Dunedin and Christchurch where Belda Schools were established and flourishing.

During the times of setting up the schools, I always had my trusty sewing machine with me.  I covered chairs, painted and wallpapered at the Christchurch school and made curtains for the new Dunedin school plus several other sewing jobs.  I also taught schoolgirl deportment classes in Invercargill.

One evening a week, I was tutoring a lovely class of ladies in Gore.  It ended abruptly when our family home at Wairio was burned to the ground.  The cause was a plumbing problem not allowing water into the hot water cylinder.

I suddenly found myself with only the clothes I was wearing.  This was the end of my deportment teaching.  I now had a house to plan, purchase a new sewing machine, make myself some clothes, the list was long.

Some years later Fran introduced Belda Colours.  I was able to do my little bit here cutting drapes and swatches with pinking shears to make up the clients’ palettes.

On one occasion Fran toured the North Island to tutor for a cosmetics company.  Bonita was about 10 months old and I went along in my old profession as a Karitane nurse to look after her.  This was a special time for us. I well remember being at a restaurant with Bonita on my knee, trying to eat a Chinese meal with chopsticks – my first attempt.  Not very successful!!

I have very happy memories of the travel Fran and I did, tutoring the classes and satisfaction that what I learnt I was able to pass on to others. Also the many friends I made while working at Belda School.

Thank you Daphne we could not have achieved our successes without you ♥