A "repair rather than despair" culture is to descend on a Whanganui cafe for two hours a month during 2020.

Eco-educator Nelson Lebo was inspired by the Repair Cafe International Foundation last year and tried out several "repair cafes" - places where people brought things for repair. They quickly attracted volunteer helpers and he's planning to continue.

This year's fix-it sessions will be held at Mint Cafe, courtesy of owner Lez Kiriona, from 2pm to 4pm on the second Saturday of every month from February to November.

The first is on February 8. If the weather is fine, they will be set up outdoors in the upper part of Majestic Square where there is an electricity supply for any tools needed. If the weather is poor, they will be in an adjacent building.

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Holding the sessions at the same cafe will save on set-up and arrangement time, Lebo said.

"What we are looking for is low impact and high productivity."

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Previous repair cafes were held at three different venues, where clothing, tools, toys and small electrical appliances were repaired. The next ones will be good for sharpening knives and tools, replacing tool handles, minor bike repairs, fixing small wooden objects and mending clothes.

People bringing items for repair are expected to donate a gold coin, but some give more than that.

The idea is to avoid the greenhouse gas emissions that go into making new items, and to avoid sending items to landfill.

"I think it's back to the future. In New Zealand 50 years ago there was an ethic of repair. We want to model to young people that to repair things is normal and to throw them away isn't normal."


Lebo has collected a core group of four fixers, who have helped at every cafe.

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"There's two guys that are just fix-it people. I thought I was a fix-it person and these guys put me to shame," he said.

The cafe location means people can eat, drink and chat while they're there.

"It's always a fabulous atmosphere," he said.