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Talking becomes healing at Menzshed workbench

Gisborne men have banded together with wellbeing specialist Sarah McGuinness for the good of men's mental health.

Ms McGuinness partnered with Tairawhiti Menzshed to have recycled rimu stands made for her self-care cards, with a portion of the sales going to the group.

After an initial run of 50, Ms McGuiness said the rimu stands sold so quickly she asked for another 80.

“Apparently the guys are over the moon and it's meant we've donated $340 to date.

“Menzshed were delighted, and that money will go to more resources.”

Ms McGuiness describes self-help as, “putting the oxygen mask on ourselves first before we help others.

“So many of us want to help others but often forget about ourselves.”

Almost 10 years has passed since Tairawhiti Menzshed came into being.

The group aims to facilitate friendships, build skills and make a place for men to come together.

A group of locals heard of the organisation and decided Gisborne needed a branch.

Fast forward to 2019 and the Gisborne outfit of the men's group is still going strong.

“When they come here, we just inform them this is a place that is about making friends, meeting new people, a place where you can come chat,” Gisborne Menzshed chairman James Aramoana said.

The group uses woodworking to open conversations between men.

“Say there are two guys on the work bench doing something and talking to each other without eye contact, someone's helping someone else and a conversation starts up.”

“It's basically just about guys getting around the table. None of us are experts, but some of us know a little bit, and we all get together and try to sort it all out.

“YouTube is our best friend. If you want a project sorted out — YouTube.”

Mr Aramoana said the main idea or kaupapa behind Menzshed was to combat social isolation.

“A lot of men out there are lonely because of break-ups, deaths, loss of jobs, they are alone in a shell and get stuck in that rut.”

Mr Aramoana said it was important to create a space where men felt it was safe to open up, but it was also about making an environment which allows those conversations to happen.

“The conversations around the table we have are pretty mind-blowing.”

Mr Aramoana said men needed help to get together and open up.

“Whereas you get women to start chatting and they don't stop, they're just designed to get together.

“When it comes to talking, we kinda don't do that, unless we get a couple of beers down us.

“It's a shame that men don't do that, it certainly helped me. I suffered from a lot of depression at one stage and the Menzshed got me through that.

“It just helps take your mind off it, you look at someone else and think, ‘wow, my problems are just little to this guy's!'”

“I think once we get with a bunch of guys that we get to know really well, we start opening up about a couple of things that we don't talk to anyone else about.”

For the men in the group, a connection is not the only goal. The crafting, progression and finished product also has an impact.

“At the end of the day when you look at it and finish it you think ‘damn, I made that'.”

Summer and Christmas can be a tough time for some people, particularly for those who suffer from social isolation.

Mr Aramoana asks the local community to support others if you can.

“Listen to them . . . and, if you can give, give.

“If you see someone who's really struggling maybe just go give them a hand, pop around and say hello with a coffee and some biscuits.

“Some people really shine when you just do that.”

MEN AT WORK: Chairperson James Aramoana in the Menzshed where men are given the tools to do woodwork and talk. Among the more popular items made are rimu stands (above). Main picture by Liam Clayton

Leave a Reply to John Cancel reply

  1. John says:

    Well done guys, so important.
    Cheers, John, Pauanui menzshed

  2. Marama West says:

    Kia kaha guys . . . all the best.