Since it opened in July last year, Dannevirke Menzshed has become a hive of activity where local men can come to socialise, develop new skills and work on practical building projects together.

MenzShed is literally a community shed filled with tools and equipment, where men meet to work building projects and share their prowess. The members, otherwise known as Sheddies, do things like repairing old furniture, building tables and recycling native timber, restoring and selling two yachts which had been donated to the shed.

The Sheddies also put their talents to good use in the community, helping local not-for-profit organisations. For the local St Vincent de Paul Charity Shop they built and installed clothes racks and a dressing room, they make and installed a cabinet for a hot water cylinder at REAP, built stairs at the Dannevirke Gallery of History, and are currently developing a relationship with local early childhood groups to repair toys and equipment.

The tools and machinery used are owned by the Shed, but have been donated by members of the community. Dannevirke High School generously donated old tools and work benches and members of the public have given timber and other materials.

Peter Barton from Tararua REAP who helps MenZ Shed seek funding, says, that in small rural communities like Dannevirke, there are very few opportunities for men to meet and work on practical projects,“ Research shows that men are more likely to become isolated as they grow older, so MenzShed is the perfect place for them to meet. The Shed also helps address issues of social isolation, not only for men who have retired, but also for men who have withdrawn from the labour force for a variety of reasons.

“In the Dannevirke and northern Tararua District there are many men retiring from their farms or farm related jobs, who have for years worked with their hands. Often they move into smaller properties without a shed to undertake hobbies and projects. The MenzShed provides a safe, warm, alcohol-free and welcoming environment with all the machinery and tools they need to do up an old chair, make a coffee table, sharpen their gardening tools or just have a cup of tea and a chat.”

Since the shed was established in Dannevirke, 29 men have become Sheddies. Says Peter, “There is a real camaraderie between the members and it’s a bright and happy place to work in and visit.”

The Tindall Foundation’s donation has assisted with the training Sheddies on the health and safety aspects when using the shed – how to use the machinery, safety procedures and first aid training. “This training is essential for the ongoing future of the MenzShed and has enabled the shed to stay open longer and providing more opportunities for men to interact more often,” says Peter.