News | 13 May 2022
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#WeSkatePōneke: Sallie’s story

Sallie Culy is a local celebrity at Waitangi Skate Park.

Woman standing in front of skating bowl whilst holding a skateboard.

The minute she sets foot in the skate park, she is met with high fives and people running up to her to say hi. She wouldn’t have it any other way – the people are why she comes back time and time again. 

Sallie has been visiting the skate park for over 20 years now, and has seen the evolution from when it was Chaffers Park to present day.  

“I go on any sunny day. Sometimes when it’s really really heavy rain I stay home. If it’s light rain I put my jacket on,” Sallie says.

Sallie has Williams Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes developmental and learning disabilities. She is the eldest of four, and her love for skateboarding is shared with all her siblings. Her two younger brothers, Harry and Tom, have had a huge impact on the Skate community in Wellington. 

Tom was behind the fundraising for Treetops Skate Park in Newtown, which allowed it to have renovations and new obstacles in place. Harry is a well known photographer, artist and skateboarder.

Skateboarding is also a huge influence in Sallie’s art – she is well known for her colourful and creative work, which has recently been showing on the light boxes on Courtney Place. She draws inspiration from the people around her – a lot of the portraits in her recent exhibition are of her friends who are local skateboarders. 

“I come to the park, then go to Harry’s house every Tuesday night, and have dinner and draw,” says Sallie.

Drawings of four people on a skateboard.
Artwork by Sallie Culy.

Funnily enough, Sallie herself hasn’t owned her own skateboard for years. Instead, she has made enough friends at the skate park that people lend her their boards so she can have a push around whenever she wants. 

“People ask me why do you come here? I love people,” says Sallie.

Sallie’s presence is both known at the skate park, but also across Pōneke. She often spends her time wandering the city and saying hello to her friends in the local skate shops. 

Like Sallie, skateboarders are often exploring and trying to utilise the city in a creative way – they like to spend time out in the streets. It’s only natural that Sallie and skateboarders spend time together. 

A woman standing infront of a field.

It provides her with a safe community. If Sallie needs support, she can often go to a skate shop to call her parents. 

As a strong advocate for her friends in the Skate community, Sallie encourages people to give skating a go.

“It’s good for stress or depression. It’s good for a lot of things, the list goes on and on,” she says.

Many Wellington locals rely on skating and use it in their daily lives. Some skate for their commute, to keep fit and healthy, to reduce carbon emissions and to have fun. Wellington City Council supports skateboarding in Pōneke, and is wanting to challenge the public perception of skating and increase public acceptance and general awareness.

Find out more about skateboarding in Pōneke through our #WeSkatePōneke campaign on our website. And to check out Sallie’s art, you can visit her Instagram profile.