Where manual labour helps mental health…

Dave Watson and Bruce Shepherd in the new Katikati’s MenzShed. Photo: John Borren.

The organisers of Katikati’s MenzShed are hoping their new premises will attract locals back and see that the benefits extend well beyond the wooden projects.

The volunteer group of mainly retired men gather a few times a week to work on their own woodwork or metalwork or repair items for the community.

They also support each other’s mental health.

Secretary Dave Watson says in the past, membership has been as high as 65 but the pandemic and then the move to temporary premises at Katikati College saw numbers decline.

“The new building is constructed on Middlebrook Drive.

"Having our own premises will enable us to increase our attendance hours and grow our membership.”

Stay connected

The concept of MenzShed started in Australia as a way for men to stay connected, says Dave.

“It’s a practical outlet but also for men’s wellbeing. Retirement can be a tough adjustment.

"They go from working up to 10 hours a day to being at home.

"Some can get a bit lost because they suddenly don’t feel as needed or wanted.”

And MenzShed isn’t just for retired men.

The group welcomes younger men who may have personal projects to work on or need help with.

“We have guys who are welders, industrial chemists, police, farmers, builders, engineers and some come along with academic skills,” says Dave.

“There’s a wealth of knowledge and expertise and we’re prepared to learn from each other.”

Easier to open up 

But he says the underlying aim is looking after men’s mental health through physical work and camaraderie.  

“Some of us don’t want to share what’s going on in our minds with our family because we don’t want them to worry or just don’t want to be a burden.

"At the shed, it’s just easier to open up.

“We have to learn that our problems are not just ours. They’re often things that a few of us are thinking about.”

MenzShed members have been active making Christmas gifts, local signage and even pest traps.

“We’ve constructed a mud kitchen and toy storage box for kids at the local playcentre, we sharpen hedge cutters and fix outdoor furniture for locals.

"We help with things that need to be repaired in return for a donation. It feels good to still be able to contribute to the community.”

New members are always welcome. To find out more, phone Dave on 027 696 3452 or email: kkmenzshed@gmail.com

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