A few steps closer to the earth


Paekakariki’s in­for­mal com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion classes, ChillEd, kicked off last week with a hands-on demon­stra­tion on how to build a house out of tyres.

It is the sec­ond time the skill­shar­ing classes have run, this time fea­tur­ing 19 sub­jects, in­clud­ing long-line fish­ing, yoga, sea­weeds of the coast, build­ing rain bar­rels and har­vest­ing grey­wa­ter.

On Mon­day night eight peo­ple gath­ered in Paekakariki man Steve Bright’s back­yard to learn about earthships, which are en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly houses, typ­i­cally made with an ex­ter­nal wall of tyres rammed with earth, built into a hill­side.

The gather­ing started with cups of tea and cof­fee, in­tro­duc­tions and a dis­cus­sion about what par­tic­i­pants knew of earthships, which ranged from next-tonoth­ing to quite a lot.

Mr Bright, who worked on an earthship in Eng­land, demon­strated how to fill the tyres with dirt and pound it so the dirt was tightly com­pacted.

He then passed over his tools for peo­ple to prac­tise fill­ing and pack­ing the tyres them­selves, which took about 20 to 30 min­utes for each tyre.

Sam Buchanan, one of ChillEd’s or­gan­is­ers, said the se­ries was rel­a­tively easy to put to­gether.

‘‘Ev­ery­body has some­thing they can teach and some­thing they need to learn. It’s just a mat­ter of get­ting the lat­ter to­gether with the for­mer.’’

Mr Buchanan said the classes were cheap, close to where peo­ple live and prac­ti­cal. Tu­tors are mostly lo­cals who have vol­un­teered their time.

A lot of the classes have sus­tain­abil­ity themes such as build­ing a raised gar­den, in­tro­duc­tory per­ma­cul­ture and mak­ing a bio-di­gester to liq­uefy weeds and turn them into a min­eral-rich fer­tiliser.

Mr Buchanan said the first se­ries last win­ter was a great suc­cess.

‘‘We’re run­ning the home brew­ing work­shop again due to pop­u­lar de­mand.’’

Some lessons have lim­ited num­bers or set fees, but most are koha and do not re­quire book­ing. Con­tact 905 5685.

Hands-on: A prac­ti­cal les­son in build­ing an earthship.

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