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Can we fix it? Yes we can! (with help from you)

Updated: Apr 24

Are you old enough to remember when something broke that you used to get it fixed? Yet so often these days the expectation is that we buy a new replacement instead. There is a growing movement to buck that trend and bring back the right to repair items ourselves, or for any trades person to be able to do so, not just a very limited (and often expensive!) pool of official suppliers.

The Repair Cafés movement is leading that charge. Tai Tokerau Timebank is a member of Repair Cafés Aotearoa which means that we have access to all of their resource material which includes maintenance guides and handbooks, training and mentoring sessions on Zoom, along with lots of handy posters etc. It also connects us to Repair Café International!

Tai Tokerau Timebank is involved with three Repair Cafés in region; Kaitāia, Kerikeri, and Whangārei. This means that volunteers earn timecredits for their time, and members can 'pay' in timecredits for their repairs, although a koha towards any supplies/power used is always appreciated to keep them sustainable.

So what is a Repair Café?

"Repair Cafés are free meeting places and they’re all about repairing things (together). In the place where a Repair Café is located, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need. On clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, et cetera. You’ll also find expert volunteers, with repair skills in all kinds of fields.

Visitors bring their broken items from home. Together with the specialists they start making their repairs in the Repair Café. It’s an ongoing learning process. If you have nothing to repair, you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Or you can lend a hand with someone else’s repair job. You can also get inspired at the reading table – by leafing through books on repairs and DIY.

There are over 2,500 Repair Cafés worldwide. Visit one in your area or start one yourself! See also the house rules we use at the Repair Café." ( )

The Repair Cafés in Tai Tokerau are all relatively new and somewhat limited in scope but keen to grow, so all are in need of some core volunteers who can commit on a regular basis, but there are also plenty tasks for those who can only make it occasionally. You don't need to be a fix-it whizz, although obviously those are extremely welcome, especially if you can bring tools along!

There are roles like being host: welcoming visitors, explaining what is going on to the curious passers by, making sure folk are offered a cuppa and generally helping things run smoothly so that the fixers can get on with fixing. Of course there's always some tidying up needing doing, and making sure everything is clean and locked up at the end of the session. Or maybe you're a great local networker who can help find volunteers with the skills that are in short supply? Each Repair Café needs to have a qualified electrician to sign off any electrical repairs, even if they don't fix everything themselves.

There's also documenting (photos and stories), and the background admin and reporting back to Repair Cafés Aotearoa about the things fixed, and any branded goods - all that data helps them with their campaigning. If brands show up to be fixed and can be, then those brands get celebrated and encouraged; and those which can't be, or turn up with a very high regularity then get highlighted as being poor quality or well and truly on the campaign target list for not being fixable!

On Wednesday 11th April at 11:30am there will be a meeting at the Menz Shed next to Northland Waste at the Church Road Transfer Station to discuss the relaunch of the Kaitāia Repair Café which will be on Saturday 27th 10-12 at the Menz Shed, and the last Saturday of the month thereafter. Anyone who is keen to get involved in any capacity would be most welcome. If you can't make it to the meeting but would still like to join in email It is exciting to have proper workshop space to use, and there will also be a sewing station with machines and supplies brought down from Anō Anō.

Last month the Kerikeri Repair Café was launched at The Merchants on Cobham Road. This is another relocation for the Repair Café that has previously been held at the Pioneer Village, and Kaipātiki Eco Hive. It's great that they now have a new home there in conjunction with Far North Resilient Communities Charitable Trust. They meet on the last Saturday of the month 1-4pm, check their Facebook page for updates and to contact them if you're keen to get involved.

Repair Café Whangārei is run by Timebank organisational member FORCE, and is held on the 3rd Saturday of the month, 1.30pm - 4pm, at Reyburn House in the Town Basin. You can contact them via their Facebook page or In April they'll have volunteer Claire putting her veterinary background to good use doing soft toy repairs!

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