Like a lot of recently retired men David Chapple wondered how he was going to use his time now that his 9-5 had finished and a new chapter of his life was beginning. The answer for David, ‘along with two other men called David’ he notes, ‘I thought it might be a prerequisite’, was to form Palmerston North Menzshed in 2011, part of a national network of now 120 plus Menzsheds.

Palmerston North City Council were supportive, helping the group find a suitable venue on Racecourse Road, and Menzshed, now has a membership 0f 60 plus mainly retired retired men, who get together regularly to use the well-equipped workshop for their own, and increasingly community projects. Despite the seemingly practical focus of the initiative,  projects are not the main aim of Menzshed.  More than anything, this is a space for men to get together, to support each other, to chat and create social connections that help them navigate their retired years. David notes that ‘Menzshed is a lifeline and for our members gives them a purpose in life, somewhere to go and something worthwhile to do’. When asked what they get out of the experience and what they valued most, a frequent response from members David notes is ‘time in the tearoom, which is the most important space in the shed as it is where people chat, talk and mingle’.

An important social connector though the initiative is, what the shed achieves for the community through the skills, passion and commitment of the men involved is incredible. David notes that 80% of the work that they do is for community projects, often linked to schools, Playcentres, Kindergartens and community groups. Within the environmental community this has included building traps, building garden beds, creating garden signage and regular participation in Palmerston North Repair Café which 4-6 Menzshed volunteers attend on a monthly basis.

After 12 years as chairperson David is standing down from the role this year, but still intends on being very involved. ‘ I only knew one person there when I started and now I have so many new friends’.

Palmerston North Menzshed is a member group of Environment Network Manawatū. Find out more on