Friendship working for community

Hard work . . . Working with the community for the community are Mackenzie Menzshed members (back, from left) Brian Knight, Doug Marett, Pieter Albertyn, Ralph Moffatt, Michael Midgley, (front, from left ) Ernie Gaibsa and Paul Hand. PHOTO: SHELLEY INON

Mackenzie Menzshed members are making their mark on the community.

Menzshed spokesman Pieter Albertyn said the group had produced Christmas trees constructed from discarded material for Fairlie’s main street, and had also built stoat and rat traps in collaboration with Opuha Water Ltd and the Department of Conservation.

The traps would be used in the Predator Free New Zealand programme in the Mackenzie area.

They had also constructed sets for the Fairlie Theatre Group’s production Polar Express.

‘‘These men work with the community for the community,’’ Mr Albertyn said.

The space had allowed men to make a mess, talk about their kidney stones or toothache, and simply ‘‘shoot the breeze’’.

While most were retired, the odd member was still involved in jobs such as farming or running their own business.

Most had time on their hands to ‘‘muck in and get things sorted’’.

While the shed had been running for more than a year, it had been slow going, Mr Albertyn said.

The weather had restricted them through winter, as wet ground had prevented cars from driving up to the shed, or it had been too cold to be in a shed.

Most of the tools and equipment used by the group had been donated, and as funds became available they hoped to buy more of the tools and equipment required.

They would love more tools to be donated.

‘‘If it’s old it doesn’t matter; if it’s slightly crooked it doesn’t matter. Bring it in and we can see if it can be restored.’’

There was a lot of joy in restoring a tool, he said — ‘‘making use of what you’ve got’’.

They especially liked the idea of battery-powered tools such as drills, impact drivers and Skilsaws.

He hoped Father Christmas would deliver the shed a tool trolley this Christmas.

While most members had tools at home, going home to bring them back caused a long delay.

‘‘And tools need to be at home, not left at a community workshop.’’

They also wanted screws, nuts and nails.

The knowledge base of members was ‘‘tremendous’’, with plumbers, carpenters and mechanics on board.

Some of the members did not have a workshop at home, and if they did ‘‘there’s not that much fun struggling alone with a problem’’.

Together people could offer help or ideas, or simply enjoy the social side.

There was lots of talking, teasing and camaraderie, he said.

Members took the opportunity to train and help one another and a lot of skills were transferred each time a new project was tackled.

No previous skills were required to join. Members all learned as they went.

With limited equipment they had to plan tasks thoroughly.

Their goal for 2024 was to focus inwardly.

The space they had inherited from the museum had been converted into a workshop for the Menzshed, as they had grown so rapidly they needed to take a step back and make it a properly functioning, neat and tidy shed.

They had recently put up a wood shed, which had helped to make space in the shed. With more organising, members could potentially have more room to do those special jobs for themselves.

What they had achieved so far was being there for some of the guys.

‘‘The Menzshed takes them out of their home context. A man can make a mess here — and leave a mess here . . . but if you did that at home you could be in real trouble.

‘‘Here, make a mess and have a social interaction while doing so.

‘‘You need to get out of the house.’’

There could be men around the country in hospital and no-one knew about it.

‘‘Perhaps he’d moved into town and had been made a widower.’’

If such people were not integrated in a church community they could be missed, whereas if a Menzshed member skipped two sessions in a row, people would start asking questions and someone would check on him, Mr Albertyn said.

‘‘We’d go in there and give him grief.’’

Mr Albertyn suggested men on their own in the community should join up or just become known to the Menzshed.

Cup of tea time was 10am and there were a few people who just popped in for a cuppa.

‘‘They get stick for it, though.’’

The members meet at the shed from 9am to noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays.