As a child I never harboured any aspirations of becoming a builder.

Like many kids with ages in single figures, I was more in tune with the practice of demolition and I feel safe in declaring that I was rather adept at it.

You build it, I'll wreck it ... that was my infantile byline.

I have however, through the passing years, embarked on the occasional building project and a couple of shelves I put together actually came out pretty well.


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They were devoid of right angles but hey, once the books were stacked on them they looked just dandy ... until the mounting hinge thing on one end gave way and took a little slab of the plasterboard with it.

So I went and bought cheap book cabinet.

But hey, you have to give it a shot don't you, and I'd wander out of the local timber and hardware merchants with a couple of lengths of cut pine strips trying to look as if I had a half a clue as to exactly what the hell I was hoping to do with it.

But it must have looked good ... sort of.

So, anyway, one day I decided to build a house.

It was when the kids were little and they had seen a really nice house down the road and asked if we could have one just like that too.

Where is it? I asked and they took me about 10 or so doors down on the other side and there it was ... indeed a smart little bungalow which, given its location, clearly possessed a great view.


It was tree house, or tree hut, or whatever.

And yes, it had been built by skilled hands because it had a neat sloping roof and little windows and even a modest wee deck out the front.

All lifted and hammered into place three or four metres up what I think was a big solid old maple type of tree.

"Oh I can whip one up for you," I said with all the confidence of a chap who declares before play starts that yes, he could take care of winger Rieko Ioane.

So I built a tree hut, but it was not the first time I had devoted my very average building skills to building a small cottage up within the branches of a tree.

When we were kids my brothers and I built a tree hut in the great rubber tree out the back.

It had a grand view over the railway lines and was a great favourite with our chums who'd come round to play after school.

Dad did the main foundation work (hammering great nails through the four by twos and into the most solid branches, and we sort of cobbled together the rest.

A couple of our mates also had tree huts, but we reckoned the view of passing trains gave ours the sort of five-star status.

So, all those years later, a acquired a couple of old wooden pallets and used one for the floor and the other for parts of the walls ... along with some heavy cardboard sheets ... because they made it easier for me to cut the windows out.

It looked a picture ... the sort of picture Salvador Dali would have come up with.

And I made a sort of rope ladder for them to climb up and get to it.

They loved it.

Took their toys up there and when their chums came around to play they'd scale the ladder to the little cottage tucked happily into the branches of one of our great walnut trees.

Tree huts are great fun, and to my delight I still see a few of them out there up in suburban branchland.

Some are superb and some are like something I would build, which makes me feel good because I drive by and say things like "good to see a lack or right angles ... that's the story".

However, and this is a very concerning 'however', it seems that in the eyes of the Dunedin City Council the creator of a humble tree hut must possess a building permit.

It must meet certain building codes ... as determined apparently by the Department of Health and Safety, PC and Building Code Things.

The council has told the family that the tree hut the three young lads enjoy playing on does not have the correct building accreditation and must come down.

To her credit, their mum has said it ain't going anywhere and they can stuff their building codes ... and some local builders have said they will get it up to "legal" scratch.

In this cotton wool age kids aren't allowed to climb trees (some schools even removed them) and it now seems they can't play in a tree hut.

Just nuts, although it has inspired me to start thinking about my next "project".

A tree hut for the grandkids.

And no paperwork involved.