Dunedin’s first blokes’ shed, Taieri Blokes’ Shed, remains a template and inspiration for similar organisations across the South.
Founded 10 years ago yesterday, Taieri Blokes’ Shed has 53 active members, including several who have been with the group since day one.
Yesterday, about 50 people were to gather at the shed at Taieri Airfield to celebrate the 10th anniversary with morning tea and reminiscences.
Among those to attend was former Dunedin resident naval officer Commander Phil Bradshaw, now of Wellington, who was a driving force behind the shed’s foundation.
Meetings to establish the Taieri Blokes’ Shed were held in 2007, and the shed was up and running at Taieri Airfield by July 2008.
In 2009, King’s High School offered the use of some shed space in its grounds, which led to the formation of Dunedin Blokes’ Shed.
More recently, a community shed has been established in North Dunedin, and a new shed is in development in Green Island.
In 2013, Taieri Blokes’ Shed outgrew its facilities in an aircraft hanger and moved to a larger space at the airfield.
Original member and past president Ian Miller said it had taken a lot of work to get the new shed space ready for use, but it had allowed new members to join.
The shed was now open three mornings a week – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays – providing the men with plenty of opportunities to work on projects and socialise.
“Taieri Blokes’ Shed was one of the first sheds around, and for the first few years we had to feel our way,” Mr Miller said.
“These days, many of the sheds that are starting up can draw on our knowledge and experience.”
Mr Miller, now in his late 70s, paid tribute to the late Bob Biggott, who worked tirelessly to establish the shed.
Shed president Nick Wilson said the members, including eight who had been with the shed from the beginning, were pleased it had reached its 10th anniversary.
Although the members enjoyed being busy and working on projects, the “social side” of the shed was important.
“We’re all retired men, and it helps to keep us going,” Mr Wilson said.
“The camaraderie among the men is great – as good as you could wish for.”
Mr Miller agreed, saying the opportunity to socialise with other men over tasks or during morning tea was important for the men’s wellbeing.
“Some of our members are in their 80s and 90s, and it’s important for them to have a place to come and be involved.
“I know of some men who wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the shed.”
Original member Walter Gibson (87) said it was important for retired men to “get out and do things”.
“I enjoy working on things for myself, but there are also plenty of community projects to be part of.”
Alongside working on their own projects, the men were involved in a lot of community projects, including making park benches, Lilliput libraries, stoat trap boxes for Orokonui Ecosanctuary, wooden palings for fences, sign posts for the Department of Conservation, and planter boxes for Mosgiel streets.