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Handymen meet for a common cause



manshed-615Birds of the Brynderwyn hills will be able to nest a little easier from their wild cat-stalkers thanks to the tool-talent of some handy Mangawhai men.

Mangawhai Shed Inc won a contract with Northland Regional Council (NRC) earlier in the year to design and construct 50 live cat traps to help the council with their environmental initiative – to lower the numbers of feral cats prowling on kiwi and other birds in the Brynderwyn ranges.

Production of the traps began in October and after ‘194 man hours’ over ‘jokes, blokeish banter and general revelry’ they are now ready to be put to use, Shed founder and chair Steve MacKay says. “I want to acknowledge the wealth of industrial experience, effort and commitment that went into the making of these quality traps by everyone during this project,” he says. “Pictures on our Facebook page hint at the fun that was had by all when you task aging craftsman to get together for a cause!” 

NRC’s biodiversity officer Steve Henderson, who met with the Shed men earlier this year, says when it comes to environmental restoration such as pest control, it takes a range of people with all sorts of skills. “Council strive to support community pest control groups by purchasing locally made traps, as the idea of ‘locals supporting locals’ appears to generate pride in the products… and this is what we have seen from the Mangawhai Shed,“ he says. “The craftmanship of the equipment supplied was outstanding with a high level of attention to detail.”

Besides helping the plight of the Brynderwyn birds, the cat traps (which may become an ongoing contract) also served as a fundraiser with ‘the modest profit’ going towards other community projects, and is the second conservation project the community group have worked on this year. In April the tool men also produced bait stations for Marunui Conservation, an environmental protection company which manages a large property on the southern side of the Brynderwyns.

In November, the Shed celebrated their third birthday, progressing from five tool men to a current 19 official members with 50 signed up as supporters, who all bring a wide collective of expertise from industry power tools, boat building, avionics, toolmaking, welding and business advising. Projects members have tried their hand at include post boxes, turned bracelets, antique repair, campervan conversion as well as creating a wooden Christmas tree sculpture for the Mangawhai Museum Bows ‘n Bells fundraising event. 

At present, members meet weekly at MacKay’s private shed on Cames Road, however the former design tech teacher says last year’s Christmas parade became a turning point as to where the group saw themselves in the future. “We made the float for Mangawhai Beach School and while we were working on it, we got to experience the joys as a team of producing something for others… and raised the question of ‘how do we push ourselves forward?” he says. “What we need now is to take our efforts to the next level and build a permanent workshop.”

Ensuing discussions regarding relocating closer to Mangawhai with a larger shed, which will allow for a wider scope of projects, led to a proposal being put forward to Kaipara District Council, who ‘seem to be coming to the party’ and the group are hoping to receive confirmation early in 2020 regarding leasing land adjacent to Mangawhai Domain. 

“Actually everyone we’ve spoken to about the Shed has been very supportive.” Originating in Australia, men’s sheds concept are community-based, non-profit organisations, which seek to promote social interaction and improve men’s overall health and quality of life, based on the slogan ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’, meaning ‘men don’t talk face to face, they talk shoulder to shoulder’.

A number of clubs, including Mangawhai, also welcome women as members. “The Shed is about sharing skills and knowledge, contributing to meaningful community projects, friendship and having some fun,” MacKay says. “Everyone here has a different skillset, experience and background plus a crazy life story, and when we mash it all together, something beautiful happens.” The group also received funding recently from Foundation North, (formerly ASB Trust) to buy a small amount of new hand tools. “It is interesting to note the similarity of the smile between a 7-yearold with his toys, and a 70-year-old with his,” MacKay jokes.

n Interested in knowing more? Visit mangawhaished. org or Mangawhai Shed Facebook page and subscribe to the brand new newsletter. Mangawhai Shed members meet every Friday at 10am, 206 Cames Road, Mangawhai.

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