Chapter 5 Belda The Students and Expansion

Spotlight on a “Belda Girl” Elieen Young – now a successful presenter on Home & Garden, Florist and Blogger who is named “Astar”

On being a Belda Girl of the best deportment school EVER:

When I was a young girl, I heard the words – ‘dress to the highest person you expect to meet in a day’. 

This quote got me thinking.  Like who would this highest person be and why would this highest person want to meet me?

Possibly a strange thing for a 15-year-old to be thinking but when I look back to my younger years in the 70’s I was a bit different and to be honest, I didn’t really fit in.  My mother was very beautiful and elegant and meticulously groomed.  I loved flowers, gardening and PAINT.  Paint anywhere and as for glue, scissors and sitting behind the sewing machine – paradise.

Often, she would say,

  • What are you wearing?
  • I don’t think that black lipstick is appropriate!
  • You need to tone down the black eyeliner
  • Is it necessary to wear all you jewels at the same time?
  • Would you please stand up straight and stop slouching?

AND what drove me super crazy was playing outside and hearing her call at me from the kitchen window, ‘if you are going to be outside without a hat and nothing covering your arms, you can come inside right now’!!!

The list of my mother’s issues with what I wore, what I applied and how I put my daily ‘ensemble’ together caused no end of grief to us both.

Then one day she announced, ‘I am sending you off to Belda.  They have deportment classes and they can teach you how to put it all together and perhaps they can find a style to suit YOU because I am over fighting with you’.

And that’s how I became a Belda Girl.  I was nearly 16 and as Mum dropped me off, she said, ‘you will thank me for this one day’. Did I thank her?  She died a few years ago and in honesty, she was still saying, what are you wearing?

Am I grateful that she made me cover-up in the sun?  Do I care now that I was the bleached whale when everyone else had what we then considered – a healthy glowing tan!  Am I grateful that she MADE me go to deportment classes? Am I grateful that I found the confidence to become me and to stand proud?  I am.

What did Belda teach me?  To stand straight and tall.  To walk as if I was about to enter the stage to give a performance of my life.  Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I miss the mark, but through Belda I learnt that these wee mistakes are benchmarks for learning.  I am blessed that I learnt how to apply my makeup so that it enhances and does not detract.  A skincare routine that is like second nature.  At almost 62 I hear Frans words, ‘cleanse tone and moisturise twice daily’ and not once have I ever gone to bed without removing it ALL.  I was sad at 16 to learn to ditch all the jewels and to accessorise appropriately. I love that I learnt how to apply care and attention to myself and always to dress to the highest person I expect to meet in any given day. 

Before departing I must mention – The Belda modelling module – Fran tried hard!  The Tutor’s tried hard! I tried hard, but the modelling just wasn’t for me. I was too short and now I might be a bit old, but society has changed in regard for such matters and I embrace it.  I’m noticing that fashion houses are starting to use the refined assets that only come with what we classify – Vintage.  I could be a vintage model because all that I learnt when I was a girl is still very much part of what makes me, ME.

Congratulations on a job executed well Fran, because I am proud to say that, I am a Belda Girl.  Astar

Enjoy this pictorial of our students, what fun we had, so many happy memories …

Even today, I meet people who say to me “I was a Belda Girl”

Belda School of Deportment and Modelling Expansion

We went on to establish three Deportment and Modelling schools in the South Island; Invercargill, Dunedin and Christchurch under the “Belda” banner, personally teaching deportment and modelling classes, developing attendee’s to model agency standards, fashion stylist and image consultants, plus beauty consultant trainers.

Courses were also held in country areas and every school holidays classes were held around the country – all classes were given by qualified Belda personnel.

My passion for colour also started here, so I trained and qualified as a Colour and Style Specialist. However, while working with the system of the day, found that the process of giving the client a limited pre-made-up wallet of colours – within the 4 seasons of colours, far too restrictive. So I went about designing and establishing my own personal colour analysis system “Belda Colours”, to give clients a much broader personal palette of colours.

During this time all the Colour Swatches and consultation drapes were prepared by hand. I had selected over 250 colours to have a wide selection of colours for my clients. So bulks of fabric took over quite a bit of space in my studio. I told my friends that if it ever got too much they would find me locked in my room with pinking shears going gaga over colours!

We introduced training for our Beauty Consultants to become Colour Consultants to add to their personal business so another chapter began..

In Memory of Pat Veltkcamp

Southland Journalist Patricia Veltcamp Smith

In her own words:

“When I started as Women’s Editior for The Southland Times in 1962, I was the only female in the office.

There wasn’t even a toilet I could use, I had to go down two flights of stairs and out past the printing presses for one I could use.

Eventually, I just started using the men’s one upstairs.

They got so used to me doing that, that they would bang on the door and say “Pat, phone!”

My role as Women’s editor was to compile stories that would be of interest to women.  Anything bout education, recipes, travel, nursing, health, kindergartens, weddings, funerals, home, fashion and families.

Fewer women were working then, so the concentration on home and daily were real.


Pat was a real gem, so intelligent and enthusiastic!  Whenever I had something newsworthy on Belda and Beauty I was able to go and see Pat and she would write an entertaining story.

As there were not a lot of women running their own businesses at this time, she was always interested in our development.

One thing I learnt at this very early stage was that it was a good idea to write what the story was about and have prepared so all the main points ended up in the published copy.

Pat for years, was always at me to write “My Story” and unfortunately, she died in March 2019, before I started this project.  I will always be grateful for her support and friendship – Fran Muntz.

Spotlight on Ngaire Pannett

Ngaire was a great student at Belda, so helpful and caring to all the other students and she progressed quickly through the classes and achieved confidence to share the skills she had learnt with others.

It was a natural progression to invite Ngaire to become a valuable member of the team and become a Belda tutor.  The students loved her and blossomed under her care.

Ngaire’s “BELDA'” Story:

Having lost myself in the late 1960s in a farm kitchen cooking for five men and caring for my one-year-old daughter, I decided it was time to find myself again.

Ngaire was a great student at Belda, so helpful and caring to all the other students and she progressed quickly through the classes and achieved confidence to share the skills she had learnt with others. It was a natural progression to invite Ngaire to become a valuable member of the team and become a tutor.  The students loved her and blossomed under her care.

As an independent teenager from a boarding school in 1964, I entered Nursing school at 17 years of age. Three years in nursing school instilled some confidence in my independence. I married in 1967 and moved from the nurses home to a farm environment to live with my new husband.

With my nursing days over (married women were not encouraged to work) I settled into my farm kitchen. Never having cooked more than marmite on toast, the Edmonds Cookbook became my bible, along with frequent calls to my mother.

Sadly just two years in my new role my mother ‘n’ law died in a car accident leaving her husband, a son, a daughter and her own father to care for themselves. I soon assumed the role of “camp mother” much to my despair.

By now I was also a mother to our daughter Michelle. With my own family to cook and care for, I soon found myself cooking for my husbands extended family. My father ‘n’ law assured me my place was in the kitchen and scones were required at 10 am each morning.

It was amidst all these changes and responsibilities that I got “lost” !!

About this time I read of “Belda” advertised in our newspaper. Maybe this would restore my confidence? Talking on the phone was difficult for me but finally, I found the courage to dial the number provided in the advertisement. I don’t remember if it was Fran I spoke to, but I was encouraged to come to a deportment class that was commencing the following week.

With anxiety levels at 100% and ambivalence similar, I drove to Invercargill from South Hillend leaving behind for the first time my one-year-old daughter. I recall very little of my first class as anxiety shut out any memories. However, I continued to attend the weekly classes and began to find myself.

I was introduced to yoga – a passion I have continued through most of my adult life. We had a different topic each week after commencing classes with yoga and an exercise routine.

Make-up, skincare, hair care and what to wear were some of the topics. We were introduced to Nutri Metics as make-up and skincare was a speciality offered at Belda. All make-up classes used Nutri Metic products.

This was a new and exciting product based on the Hunza people of the Himalayas. These people failed to age. They retained a youthfulness that was not found elsewhere in the world. They used the kernel from the ground apricot stone to make lotions for their skincare. My allegiance with the apricot kernel and Nutri Metics had begun. I eventually became a Nutri Metics consultant selling the products with in-home demonstrations.

This earned me points that enabled me to buy products for myself. I continue to use Nutri Moist and some make-up products today. I am unable to calculate how many litres of Nutri moist I have used in the last 50 years! As a Nuti Metics agent, I made many new friends and my confidence grew.

Through deportment classes we learnt how to walk the talk – etiquette, walking, sitting, standing up and downstairs.

  • toe heel, toe heel
  • full foot on the step
  • eyes up – don’t look down

For some those steps were a health and safety risk!

  • use only half the chair when sitting
  • do not cross legs
  • walk away with the front foot
  • bend knees to sit – don’t lean forward
  • handbags – lift down with hand. Do not drop it down!

From deportment, I went onto modelling classes. We learnt more of the above. Fashion and what to wear with what was the focus. Presenting ourselves to the public in a coordinated and finished manner. A modelling exam came at the end of the course.

Three garments were required of us – casual, day & evening. At that time I was taking in-home dressmaking and was making for myself. I made my own evening wear which was a brown and white floral jumpsuit. I still have it. I was also five months pregnant with my second child which added to the angst of the final exam.

However, I did graduate and went on to become a tutor for deportment classes and later a modelling tutor. I remained so for several years. In that time, I had several well-known students – Asta, Suzanne Prentice, Heather Paterson and many more.

We provided models for functions and fundraisers in and around Invercargill. One I fondly remember was working and comparing with Godfrey Bowen MBE and his merino sheep at the A&P show.

The models all from Belda, wearing wool garments.

I also worked with Knight Tailors providing models to wear sheepskin coats, jackets and vests for their overseas catalogue and the local market. Many hours were spent co-ordinating models with garments and visa versa.

I can re-call fashion shows in DIC and H&J Smith. Photographic sessions at Andersons Park promoting local fashion store garments from Farry’s, Posh and more.

In 1984 an area in Invercargill was flooded – many families losing their cherished possessions. Belda put together a flood relief fashion show at Ascot. This is when we introduced ‘modelling to music'”. Not only was this a fashion show – we had dancers from a local dance school. By now my daughter Michelle was 15 and she danced in co-ordination with music and fashion.

My son whom I was pregnant with at the time of my exam was also coerced into taking part. Co-ordinating models, garments, sound and lighting was a challenge.

I cannot recall how much we raised but a great night it was.

Through this journey, I did find myself again. I had the confidence to manage my family, retrain as a nurse at SIT and practice for 30+ years as an Intensive Care nurse in NZ & Saudi Arabia.

Maybe as I matured I may have found my confidence, but Belda gave me the courage to face the world and achieve.

Thank you Belda.