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The co-owner of a major Wanaka building company, who is also a leader in waste minimisation in the construction industry, has joined the Wanaka MenShed to learn how to build from the retired experts.

Dunlop Builders waste minimisation officer Donnelle Dunlop has always worked in the business with her husband, Bryce, but she had never worked with the tools.

Five weeks ago she joined the MenShed, a group of retired men who meet twice a week at the Wanaka Community Workshop in Gordon Rd to build products out of recycled materials.

“I have a building business but I do not necessarily know all the skills.

“I wanted to meet the guys and have them teach me how to turn what was a kitchen sink into an outdoor bench with a sink for Te Kura O Take Karara school vegetable garden.”

Mrs Dunlop said the guys had been “amazing”.

Great way to find out how to build . . . Dunlop Builder’s is supplying some of the timber offcuts so Waste Management officer Donnelle Dunlop asked if she could come along and make something.

“They all have different skills, and they just want to share that knowledge.

“I have enjoyed it so much, I have enjoyed the camaraderie and I have enjoyed listening to them.” Alan Richardson (74) is one of the “guys” and is usually the first one through the door every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

“I retired four years ago from the sea and life has been fairly empty since then, so this MenShed is just the bee’s knees about all sorts of things.

“A lot of times guys don’t talk about much and we may get around to the nitty gritty problems that affect men at some stage or other but just the company is absolutely wonderful coming here,” Mr Richardson said.

The Wanaka Community Workshop and a MenShed group was the brainchild of Wanaka businessman Ben Acland.

“I was a member of the Building Better Group, which included Donnelle Dunlop, and my part was find ways to reduce waste in the building industry.

Mr Acland came up with a concept of getting retired people to turn waste material from building sites into products we could sell or donate in to the community.

In November Mr Acland, together with the founder of Cactus Outdoor clothing company Gwilym Griffith-Jones, registered the Wanaka Community Workshop Trust as a charitable trust so it could apply for community grants.

“The idea is once .. [these] amazing men have really established themselves, then we hope to open up more groups.

“Solo mums have already approached me, as they don’t want to have to phone men necessarily to come in and fix the gate or fix the door.

“They want to learn some repair and building skills, so if we have the retired gentlemen available, they can teach the kids and the mums.”

Products made by the MenShed include 100 rodent traps and gnome houses for the Eely Pt under-10s bike park.

Offcuts recycled . . . Wanaka Community Workshop trustee and founder Ben Acland with some of the 50 rodent traps made in the workshop.

Other projects include making traps for the Aspiring Diversity Trust, shelves for Te Kakano Trust and Lilliput libraries for the Lions Clubs.

Mr Acland said he hoped to expand the MenShed to four or five mornings a week.