As part of this year’s No8 Wire Week, Kāpiti’s first repair café was held at the Te Newhanga Kāpiti Community Centre last month. Local experts in electrical, clothing, IT and general repairs were recruited to offer their services to the community over a three-day period, with all repairs conducted free of charge. Over the three days, 69 items as diverse as heaters, stuffed toys, iPhones, garden shovels, dresses, bikes and table lamps (to name only a few) were brought in to be repaired. In addition to that, about 40 boomerang bags were sewn, locally grown seeds were swapped, and plenty of cuppas, home baking and conversations enjoyed. Hannah and Liam of The Rubbish Trip were on site to offer advice on waste-free living. As tools whirred in the background, the pair took the time to record a podcast chat with Peter Blackler, Treasurer of Menzshed Kāpiti, and Johanna, Events Coordinator at the Kāpiti Community Centre
From its conception in the Netherlands in 2009, the repair café idea has quickly become a global movement, with repair cafés now operating all over the globe from Afghanistan to New Zealand. The purpose of repair cafés is to extend the life of items which would otherwise be thrown out and replaced, to foster and grow repair skills in the community, and to raise awareness that even in our modern disposable society, repairing is still feasible and often simple.
Kāpiti’s first repair café saw 72% of all the items brought in successfully repaired – most of them at the café while their owners watched, with other items being taken away by the MenzShed volunteers to be repaired at their Waikanae workshop, e.g. garden tools that needed sharpening or their handles replaced. Eleven items required more specialised repair skills or tools, and their owners were pointed towards local businesses that would be able to conduct those specialised repairs. Only eight of the 69 items brought in were deemed beyond repair.
“It was surprising to see how simple many of the required repairs were” says Katharina Kennedy, Council’s waste minimisation officer and co-organiser of the event. “For example, we had a desk lamp brought in that wasn’t working properly and got dangerously hot when in use. It only needed a small screw holding a wire down tightened. And yet, not knowing where to look for the fault and how to repair it, something that only took 5 minutes to repair might easily have been thrown out.”
While this first repair café was organised as a one-off event by council and the community centre, the organisers hope that it will become a regular institution. “This first repair café has clearly shown that there is demand for help and advice on repairing things, especially for electrical items. It would be great to see more events like this happening in Kāpiti, and we’re keen to support that.”
Photography by Jenny Rahman.