Repair cafes are popular events where communities gather to share skills and fix household items rather than chuck them in landfill. Reporter Jenny Ling sits down with the Paihia Repair Cafe crew to learn what it's all about.
It was a scene straight out of the classic TV commercial for Levi's jeans.
Only the young man in question wasn't peeling off his T-shirt and blue 501s and bunging them into a washing machine at a 1950s-style laundromat to the sound of Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through the Grapevine.
This was a backpacker in the Bay of Islands hoping to give his ripped and worn jeans a new lease on life by rocking up to the Paihia Repair Cafe.
The team of volunteers, who dedicate the last Saturday of the month to repairing the community's broken and damaged household items, will never forget the time the traveller sat there patiently in his boxers waiting for his denim pants to be fixed.
"He took his jeans off and stood around in his boxers while someone sewed them up," repair cafe founder Jane Banfield said.
"He asked first, he didn't realise someone would be there with a sewing machine.
"It's really varied what people bring in to be repaired.
"The overall message is that things can be repaired and not thrown away. We can fix things."
Repair cafes are about connecting people with others in their communities who are happy to share their knowledge and skills.
In this way, they save people money and reduce the amount of material that ends up in landfill.
The Paihia group was established in 2019 by Opua builder Paul Van de Water and Banfield, a "zero waste granny" who is also a spokeswoman for Zero Waste movement in the Far North.
"It's a community hub, a way of bringing people together," Banfield said.
"While someone's fixing your iron, you're also chatting to someone you haven't met before. There's this connection happening between people."
The Paihia cafe is at Kaipatiki Eco Hub on Puketona Rd, where Bay Bush Action trustee Craig Salmon runs a centre and small shop selling pest control products, natural soaps and honey.
Oromahoe resident Graeme Kettle has taken over the coordinator role for the group while Charlotte Boss is on maternity leave.
Kettle said he has been impressed with the initiative.
"The first time I came here I brought a box with a dozen things I'd found around home I couldn't fix.
"They fixed 10 out of 12 and the other two were just junk. It was very impressive."
The Paihia Repair Cafe is made up of around 10 local volunteers who have different talents, including sewing, woodwork, electronics and mechanics.
They include seamstress Anna Wilson who trained at the prestigious New Zealand College of Fashion and Design in Auckland as a teenager.
Wilson, who has always altered and made her own clothes, now helps patch up and restitch others' clothing and soft fabric items like bags and belts.
Other volunteers fix outdoor furniture and bicycles, and sharpen the blades of scissors and knives.
They also fix kids' toys, and small appliances and machines such as weed eaters, leaf blowers and lawnmowers.
Though there are no guarantees, "80 per cent of the stuff that comes here is repaired", Kettle said.
"We have five or six people here at a time, and between them, they'll figure it out.
"All we ask is a pay-as-you-feel koha, which will go towards buying new glue and other materials."
Recipients can also choose to donate their own time in exchange for a repair.
The most common items that are brought in are table lamps and pieces of outdoor furniture.
But pretty special items have included an oil painting that was a "good imitation" of English Romantic painter John Constable and needed reframing.
Kettle said people have forgotten that they can repair things themselves.
More than half of all appliances can be fixed, even complicated items like bread makers, he said.
"We had one guy come in who had recently got a $1000 Dyson vacuum cleaner out of the dump. All it needed was a new battery.
"Another guy brought a new mower that wasn't working because he'd overfilled it with oil.
"A lot of the time it's actually something really simple, and they don't know how to work it."
The repair cafe initiative was started by Dutch environmentalist and former journalist Martine Postma, who held the first one in Amsterdam in 2009.
It proved to be a great success and she went on to establish the Repair Cafe Foundation, a not-profit organisation that has provided support to local groups in the Netherlands and other countries wishing to start their own repair cafe.
Groups in Northland now include Kaitāia, Kohukohu and Rawene in the Hokianga, and in Whangārei.
Kettle, who is also involved with Tai Tokerau Timebank, said the volunteers are paid in "time credits" through the time-banking system, an alternative currency where people exchange services instead of cash.
Members of time-banking groups share skills like cooking, sewing, gardening, child minding, transport and wood stacking - all without exchanging a cent.
Van de Water, a builder for 30 years, got involved in the repair cafe because he wanted to help the environment.
He also tries to educate people to buy quality power tools, because cheap ones don't last.
"If you buy something mid-range, you'll get some good use out of it.
"My belief is that there's too much stuff in the world and people are so used to throwing away everything.
"We don't have to keep buying new items. We should buy less and look after what we have.
"That's how we grew up in the 70s. You never threw anything away, what we did have was precious. We've become a throwaway society now."
Kettle agrees, saying even recycling isn't that sustainable.
"The solution to over-consumption is not recycling. Recycling is part of the problem.
"People think if they buy stuff and throw it in the recycle bin that's good for the environment, but the solution is reusing and repairing stuff.
"We're trying to change people's thinking."
* The Paihia Repair Cafe is open today, and every last Saturday of the month, from 1-4pm at Kaipatiki Eco Hub, 195 Puketona Rd, Paihia.
It seems Kiwis don't actually like chucking stuff out.
Consumer NZ research shows people are frustrated by how hard and pricey it is to get their appliances repaired.
The consumer watchdog's 2020 survey found New Zealanders expect their appliances to be repairable, with 98 per cent of respondents saying they should be able to get their washing machines and dishwashers fixed.
"It's clear people want it to be easier and more affordable to get broken appliances repaired," Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said.
"Just 24 per cent of Kiwis would sooner replace something faulty than get it repaired, while half felt bad when they've had to junk an appliance."