(this article was first published in the November 2019 issue of the Ōtaki Mail – www.otakimail.co.nz)

Ōtaki staged its first Repair Cafe celebrating the 10th International Repair Cafe Day on the 19th October, 2019.

“Repairing something instead of throwing it out and reviving the spirit of fixing something which is no longer working or is broken will help all of us, not only saving money but reducing waste” says organiser Hanna Wagner-Nicholls of Energise Ōtaki.

Ōtaki’s Memorial Hall, set up like a workshop, was buzzing with people bringing their broken or malfunctioning items in for repair by a handy team of 14 volunteer fixers. And satisfied people left with a big smile on their faces.

Remote garage door openers, clocks, radios, vacuum cleaners, and toasters kept the electrical table busy, as the sewing station mended skirts, overalls, and shorts, a woollen coat on which the moths had feasted on. For many sewing your own reusable sanitary pad proved to be very popular. The sharpening team of three volunteers fixed garden tools, many knives which had been living unused in drawers, and pocket knives. The bike station was busy looking after brakes, tyres, and general check.ups. Children brought in their toys and left happy, many with a special wild animal brooch they made using a glue gun.

Ōtaki Playcentre looked after the wellbeing of everyone and as proof of how popular their food was, many people gave extra koha in appreciation, and now they can proceed with an update of their library collection.

“Often people don’t have the repair skills, they don’t have the tools or time to focus on the subject or think it’s difficult. It’s hard to find a repair guy, and if you find one, he or she is expensive – that’s what people told me.”

“There are expert people in our community who do have repair skills, tools, and time. Usually these people are so fond of tinkering that they’re more than happy to help. And repair is not that difficult. It’s often easy and it can be fun when you do it together with an expert, and when this expert is a volunteer then it’s also cheaper than buying a new product.”

Plans for the next Repair Cafe in February 2020 are already in the making, and even more volunteers are waiting to help again.