What happens when you take a group of retired men, and give them a shed and some tools?

As it turns out in Waipukurau, you've created a highly productive venue where all manner of projects are tackled, and many individuals and the community benefit.

At the end of Mt Herbert Rd, the members of the Central Hawke's Bay MenzShed are settling into the new space they moved to this month after their previous building in Ruataniwha St was sold.

They'd been in the original building for more than a year, officially opening in August last year about six months after local retired farmer Ray King first put the call out to other blokes to bring the concept of MenzSheds to the district.


There's said to be about 60 MenzSheds operating in New Zealand, all members of what has been described as a "movement" that began in the backyards and streets of Australia and has become a global trend.

MenzSheds provide a communal space for retired men with time on their hands, who have skills and knowledge and don't want to sit about doing nothing.

Waipukurau chairman Owen Spotswood says initial plans to meet on Thursday afternoons when the group started were short lived as soon members began turning up every day.

"They started off doing their own little jobs, but before long word was out and the general public started bringing in all sorts of jobs to deal with that they couldn't get fixed elsewhere."

These jobs have ranged from repairing antique chairs, outdoor furniture and card tables for the local bridge club to building a children's playhouse, restoring vintage cars and building a memorial bridge in Porangahau.

The workshop is packed full of work benches, tools and machinery and at any one time you'll find eight to 10 of the club's 33 members beavering away on a project, or just hanging out for a chat.

The friendship and camaraderie is a big part of the appeal of belonging to the MenzShed, says member Brian Giles.

A former freezing worker, he's been a member since day one and says meeting others and helping people out are some of the best aspects of being involved.


During his time there he's worked on projects including painting rocking horses for the local toy library, sanding tables, cleaning up timber, and cutting up kindling for fundraisers. He also makes a good cup of coffee, according to the others.

Joe Lowes was a farmer all his life before retiring and says he joined because he was keen to do something and get out of the house.

He also enjoys getting together with the other men and "listening to them grizzle".

He has woodworking skills that are put to good use on projects such as restoring antique furniture.

The average age of Waipukurau's MenzShed members is about 75, the guys reckon, with the oldest member aged 93 and the youngest about 68. Although they do work on commission, it's a hobby not a job and they ask that people pay for the materials and contribute a koha for the men's labour.

"Nothing is impossible for the MenzShed" is the motto of the group and that's proven to be the case during the first year of operation.

Members have had to cut down on the jobs slightly while moving, but are expecting the book to start filling up again soon. New members are always welcome.