Men­zshed grows ‘beyond imag­i­na­tion’

The Leader (Nelson) - - FRONT PAGE - CHERIE SIVIGNON

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.

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