A Tūrangi man who heard calls for protective equipment for essential workers has moved from furniture making into producing medical visors.
David Winterburn owns Furnichur, a Tūrangi business restoring and making mid-century and 1960's style furniture.
But when he heard that a Tūrangi pharmacist was unable to come by face shields to keep herself and her staff safe during the Covid-19 lockdown, Winterburn found the challenge to help hard to resist.
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Tonnes of PPE now in Auckland warehouse
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Doctors demand urgent action on PPE, Simon Bridges goes in to bat
• Covid-19 coronavirus: Government to spend $200m on bolstering New Zealand's PPE supply
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Thousands of doctors and nurses rally for more effective protective gear
He used a 3D printer and binding plastic plus other materials to make a face shield - which has since developed into a sideline business during the past four weeks.
Winterburn says diversifying into making face shields from a 20-year career of bespoke furniture restoration is "fine but chaotic".
But the timing is working out well as he is recovering from an ankle reconstruction and happy to be able to work on the shields in just one room of his 1100sq m furniture-filled workshop.
Winterburn grew up in Tūrangi during the power scheme days of the 1970s and 1980s but as a teenager, moved away to do pre-trade automotive and engineering and from there he ended up in Oxford, England where he began a business collecting and restoring furniture. In the United Kingdom was a huge amount of good quality, well-designed mid-century homeware.
"Everywhere I looked there was all this rare stuff that you paid five pounds for, it was insane."
When he came back to New Zealand Winterburn brought with him a 20-foot container full of furniture but he had nowhere to put it and nowhere to work on it - "I had a pair of shoes and $200."
Sign up to our daily Covid-19 newsletter for essential advice and a full summary of the day's news and developments. Register or sign in and select Top News Stories.
So he moved back to Tūrangi and set up there. There was power, there was internet and access to transport links. Winterburn found he could be based outside the big cities and still sell his furniture pieces to clients in the USA, China and Hong Kong.
He originally opened a shop in the Tūrangi town centre and began selling furniture overseas, swapping the shop for the workshop after nearly three years.
He got into making the Covid-19 face shields after a friend complained that his pharmacist wife could not get PPE (personal protective equipment) because of the worldwide production shortage of the gear.
"He sent me a message saying 'can you make these?'," Winterburn said. "He knew I had a 3D printer and that I'm pretty crafty and I can pull together the elements involved."
So Winterburn set to work, eventually coming up with a design for a durable, reusable face shield that he makes by hand in his workshop and sells to whoever wants them.
"I've created headbands which are comfortable and they can pop off to soak it or wash it or sterilise it...the acetate shield only weighs a couple of grams and you can wipe them down."
He's not the only person to begin creating face shields to meet the new demand, but he says although there is an opportunity to make money, and some people are, he is selling his at $7 each, little more than the cost of production. He estimates he probably makes about $1 profit on each one.
"I've basically made it super affordable for anybody. It's about getting these things in people's hands so they can feel safe and operate out there in the world.
"I'm just covering costs, materials and a bit of labour and I'm making sure that the lights [in the workshop] stay on because these machines run 24 hours a day and they've got heating elements and they cost money to run."
Winterburn says most of the people buying the shields are essential workers, both individuals and small businesses. He has supplied some to pharmacies in Taupō and a barber in Taihape has ordered some for when lockdown ends.
"People are still going to have to work after lockdown and they are not silly and they are trying to do their best to protect themselves and their clients. But most of them are just individuals around town wanting small numbers, one to 10, basically small production.
"People are using them for going to New World. There's a lady that's got a group of family that have travelled and they have come back to their house so they are trying to protect themelves and don't want to be coughed on."
Winterburn says he's happy doing the shields on a small-scale basis. He can make 30 shields per day although at the time of his interview he was waiting for more plastic to arrive and had a backlog of around 50 to make which he estimated would be three days of printing and a day of production.
"And then you have to put together the headbands and punch them and check them all and then you have the administration and logistics of bagging it all and sending it to the right place."
It's certainly a change from the physicality of making and restoring furniture. With a post-Covid-19 recession expected, the demand for the type of luxury furniture that Winterburn specialises in is expected to tighten up and it's shown he's capable of diversifying into other areas.
"Being able to make a product out of my back room with my heater on where it's warm with my computer on playing music and pump out a mini production line has got me thinking. It's pretty awesome.
"You can be at home, you can be comfortable and make a buck. I worked throughout the 2008-09 global financial crisis and I found ways to make money through that. For me, there's always the opportunity as long as you're being authentic about it."