Menzshed grows ‘beyond imagination’
Alan Kissell has been integral to the rise of Menzshed Waimea.
He started as a member of its steering committee and helped with fundraising for about 18 months before the shed opened its Richmond Park premises in 2011.
There was a membership of about 30 then. Over the past six years, that membership has grown to 177 with men from across the region including Nelson, Stoke, Wakefield, Brightwater, Richmond and Motueka. Kissell is the co-ordinator.
‘‘It’s way bigger than what any of us ever imagined,’’ he says. ‘‘We have 8000 people a year come through here. We would be open the most hours a week, I think, for any shed in New Zealand that I’m aware of and probably just about the biggest membership.’’
Kissell says he believes the growth is because the team at the shed try to accommodate everyone. ‘‘No matter whether they’re an engineer or a builder or have never had any skills. A guy comes through that door and we say: ‘Right, how can we accommodate what he’s looking to do’.
‘‘We’re not exclusive.’’
The shed is open from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday along with some Saturdays.
Kissell estimates just 5 per cent of its members come from a trade background. Kissell worked as a builder but like most of the tradie members, he’s retired.
‘‘For me, [the shed is] all about utilising the skills of the guys we’ve got here to keep everyone – the young and the old – learning.’’
The shed itself has expanded. An extension to house machinery was built on the main building.
There are also well-tended gardens for men who have downsized and no longer have a vege patch at home. In November 2014, a new engineering shed was opened to coincide with Clarence (Clari) Merrick’s 90th birthday. Merrick, a skilled engineer, died in Decem- ber, 2016 aged 92. He was the oldest member of the shed and an ‘‘absolutely brilliant guy’’.
‘‘So we built his coffin for him,’’ Kissell says. ‘‘The engineers put spanners on as handles – that was pretty special.’’
The youngest attendee was about 9. ‘‘There are some homeschooled kids or ones that don’t have access to technology rooms so we run classes for them.’’
Over the past few years, the team has also been helping men referred by the Corrections Department.
People with intellectual disabilities have long been welcomed. ‘‘Some of the guys have been there right from the start but the group’s just grown and grown so now we have to have two classes.’’
He finds the work rewarding and it was mentioned when Kissell was recently awarded a Kiwibank local hero award.
New members are welcome. It costs $35. ‘‘Some of them may not want to use the machinery; they might want to be here for a bit of company and that’s great, too.’’
Alan Kissell says new members are welcome at Menzshed Waimea, where the team try to accommodate everyone.