Cou­ple’s ‘can do’ at­ti­tude builds col­lec­tion to 6283

The Southland Times - - Front Page -

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

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