Couple’s ‘can do’ attitude builds collection to 6283
Some of the beer cans in Graeme and Leonie Robertson’s massive collection were picked up at Rugby Park after Saturday games.
Their display of empty beer and soft drink cans is one of many collections the Invercargill couple have available for public viewing. Interestingly, on Saturday it will be 20 years since they opened their home to the public.
To mark the occasion, the Robertsons have produced a booklet on the history of their collections and home. Their home had to be replaced after being damaged in the 1984 flood.
‘‘As long as we’re here [and not out], it’s open,’’ Graeme said of visiting hours.
The 6283 cans, mostly fixed to the ceilings, have been sourced different ways – donated, found in a variety of places or bought and contents consumed on trips throughout New Zealand and overseas.
‘‘After rugby games at Rugby Park in the late 1990s, my son [Darrel] and his friends would pick up the cans,’’ Graeme said.
‘‘They’d fill up three or four shopping bags.’’
The Robertsons have both been longtime collectors. Graeme started the can collection in 1983 after being given a box of empty cans by his late brother, Bruce Robertson.
After a few days of thinking what to do with them, Graeme decided to glue them around a dart board on a wall. Members of his family visited a short time later and were surprised to see empty cans stuck to a wall.
One relative joked, ‘‘you haven’t got any on the ceiling yet’’.
Before their next visit, Graeme fixed 50 cans to the ceiling in the sun room. That was the beginning of covering the ceiling with cans.
The Robertsons also have collections of porcelain dolls (307), drinking cups (98), paua shells (1704), fridge magnets (1018), small flags from New Zealand towns, cities and settlements (257) and miniature bottles of liquor (about 200).
Twenty seven paua shells, formerly on display at Fred and Myrtle Flutey’s Paua House in Bluff, are also on show in the Robertsons’ house.
Most visitors arrive between 10am and 10pm. About 5000 people have called in and a lot have been overseas tourists.
Rest home residents, schools and kindergartens have been among the many groups to visit.
The Robertsons never tire of welcoming people into their home, with Graeme giving guided tours of the rooms holding collections.
‘‘We often give them a cup of tea.’’
Graeme and Leonie Robertson’s Invercargill home is known for a massive collection of empty soft drink and beers cans fixed to the ceiling. JOHN HAWKINS/STUFF