All stand for Menzshed

Next project: Menzshed members, from Lloyd Jackson, Garry Botting and Steve Mannington turn their attention to Freeman Court’s lazy boy chairs and how to raise them.

When Freeman Court residential manager Tricia Ball rescued yet another resident from one of the many low couches and chairs at the Te Awamutu retirement community, she knew she needed help.

So, she asked the “amazing people” at Te Awamutu Community Menzshed if they could whip up enough chair raisers so residents could sit in comfort and then get out of their chairs with ease.

Within days they had made the wooden raisers from old pallets and finished timber. Freshly painted and finished, the 100cm square raisers are now dotted around the lounges under couch and chair legs.

The raisers go under the chairs and lounge suites, and the extra height makes a big difference.

One fan of the raisers is sprightly 97-year-old Olwyn Fallwell who now gets in and out of chairs with ease

“Plus, it makes it easier for the cleaners to vacuum under the furniture,” she said.

“Such a small thing, such a difference they have made to our residents. They are our local heroes,” said Tricia.

Freeman Court began life as Te Awamutu Eventide Home in 1970 so the older people in Te Awamutu could have an affordable place to live that would support them to continue living independently.

It is not a rest home or retirement village and since 2015 has been a part of Habitat for Humanity Central North Island.

Tricia Ball on the Freeman Court terrace.

Two years ago, Waipā District Council sold the neighbouring Palmer Street 36-unit pensioner housing complex to Habitat.

Habitat is about to start building new houses on an adjacent section for the Palmer Street residents who were all offered lifetime tenancies when the sale went through.

Menzshed spokesperson Steve Mannington said it took him and other members three days to make the raisers using a recently purchased nail gun to put them together.

No fingers or thumbs were harmed in the process, he joked.

Their reward, other than a donation from Habitat, was afternoon tea at Freeman Court and a rich fruit cake baked by two residents.

Tricia took the opportunity to show Menzshed the lazy boy chairs they also have which residents struggle to get in and out of.

Before long, the men were debating how to make risers for them.

Menzshed has 32 members, all retired, but would welcome more help from younger men, said Mannington.

They are based in Raeburne Street, Te Awamutu and have been working together since 2016. The house they occupy is vested in a trust so it will always be available for Menzshed activities.

Other recently completed projects include mud kitchens for a kindergarten, a bug house and school bag racks. The men recently purchased a bench saw which has been getting plenty of use, particularly for the remembrance seat they built for Kihihiki School.

They also recently completed 150 rat/stoat traps for use in forests where bird life is under threat.

Menzshed members include former architects, engineers, truck drivers, mechanics, builders and gardeners. Their premises feature an engineering department, a workshop, scroll, painting and timber supply rooms, a kitchen, large deck and a bountiful vegetable garden.


Menzshed’s Steve Mannington offers a helping hand to Freeman Court resident Lois Douglas, 88, watched by l-r Garry Botting, Lloyd Jackson, Olwyn Falwell, 97, Heather McKinley, 83 and Sylvia Bain, 91.

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