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Coffin Club providing alternative for 'underground furniture'

THE Coffin Club has been up and running for several months and the first caskets have come off the production line.

A Gisborne branch of the nationwide club was formed in January. More than two dozen club members use workshop space at the BCR Cabinets & Joinery Services building in Gladstone Road.

Club convener Taranga Kent said it was set up in response to a need in the community for an affordable “underground furniture” alternative.

The Coffin Club was a non-profit organisation, she said.

Caskets are made by professional joiners, then 'furnished' and decorated by members“Members pay for the materials only, thereby reducing funeral costs considerably. Caskets are made by professional joiners (at no cost), then “furnished” and decorated by members themselves.”

Club chairman Steve Evett said the response to the concept had been fantastic.

“It has been quite awesome to be able to offer such a service to the Gisborne community.

“Every time we explain it to someone, they are interested. It does not matter who they are or where they come from.”

Mr Evett said the club had been busy getting the facility set up and putting the concept out to the public.

“Each casket costs our members $350 in materials to build. Then they can decorate them as they please.

“But it’s not just about building the caskets.

“People who come in to talk about it with us also want to talk with other people about death and dying,” Mr Evett said.

“It’s another important factor of life. So the club meets a need there, too.”

BCR joinery owner Craig Williams said when he heard about coffin clubs, he felt it would be a good community project to be involved inBCR joinery owner Craig Williams said when he heard about coffin clubs, he felt it would be a good community project to be involved in.

“I met Katie Williams from the Kiwi Coffin Club in Rotorua and we talked then about what they were doing over there. I often thought since that conversation how good it would be to have a club here, and it’s magic really to be able to offer our workshop for it,” Mr Williams said.

Mr Evett said Mr Williams had made the concept possible.

“He’s the driving force behind our casket-building.”

Club member Kerry Beattie built the first one the club produced.

“I was approached by someone who attended the meeting where we set the club up and asked to build a casket for them.

“It makes you look at your own mortality. Making it for someone else makes you more appreciative of life around you.”

Mr Beattie said it was quite a magic feeling to be able to create something like that for someone else who needed it.

The Gisborne club was the sixth to be established. There is a one-off joining fee of $30 and a membership fee of $10 a year.

The club is open every Saturday morning from 9am to midday at BCR Joinery, 522 Gladstone Road, for people to work on their coffins or just to call in and find out more.

n Tairawhiti Coffin Club can be contacted at tairawhiticc@gmail.com or its Facebook page.

Tairawhiti Coffin Club - BCR Joinery owner Craig Williams (left), Tairawhiti Coffin Club chairman Steve Evett and club member Kerry Beattie.