Makoura College students Nate Hefferan, left, Cole Hodson, Jack McIsaac, and Lee Bolsted, with the bench they made for Gladstone Women’s Institute for presentation to the Gladstone Sports Complex. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

STEVE RENDLE
steve.rendle@age.co.nz

What started out as a simple park bench has ended up as an “heirloom piece” for Gladstone Sports Complex, and a win for Gladstone Women’s Institute and a foursome of students from Makoura College.

Last year, Wairarapa divisions of the institute were involved in several community projects with themes of ‘nurturing a nation’ and ‘sharing to sustain our communities’.

This year, Gladstone decided to get a bench seat built for the sports complex, with the project needing to ‘teach and skill’ and ‘share the friendship’.

Using aged macrocarpa from Janet and Craig Morrison’s Kaiawa Station, four Makoura College students got the job of turning a magazine photograph of a bench into reality.

Head of woodwork Bill Taylor left the Year 11 hard technology students to design and build the bench – and Nate Hefferan, Jack McIsaac, Lee Bolsted, and Cole Hodson came up with the goods.

“All they had was a photograph – and I told them it had to look a bit like driftwood,” Taylor said.

“It required a lot of work to design, and it’s come out looking fantastic. They were using traditional tools such as spokeshaves and rasps, and it looks beautiful.”

It was difficult to get too much out of the boys on the project, but everyone else is thrilled.

“Originally, we were thinking of a park bench – but it’s just evolved,” Gladstone institute president Barbara Lang said.

“It’s a real heirloom piece. We hope they enjoy it, and it’s around for a long time.”

Gladstone complex president Gary Riddell was equally delighted when the bench was handed over.

“If Makoura College is turning out students like these, they are definitely doing something right.

“It’s a great piece of craftsmanship.”

It may have originally started life as a park bench, but the final product is being kept a little more under cover, with a place in the complex’s foyer, Riddell said.

“We were a bit worried it might go walkabout. It looks real neat in the foyer.”