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Recycling shop in tiptop shape

A Mua Community Resource Centre in Featherston turns two years old in May.

Started by Featherston man and “tinkerer by nature” Guy Walker, A Mua has been helping South Wairarapa residents divert their reusable waste from landfill.

Walker was prompted to start the facility after he was shocked at the amount of reusable material going into landfill and frustrated by the lack of a local tip shop.

Today, A Mua is what Walker describes as a tip shop without a tip.

It is part of Featherston’s Own Charitable Trust, which also operates the local food bank and op shop.

Walker staffs the centre three days a week with a team of about 15 volunteers, recovering, repurposing, and re-selling everything from electrical items to garden ware, building materials, and books.

Countless truckloads of stuff have been saved from landfill, Walker said.

“A huge amount of those items we have recovered over the past two years would have ended up in landfill, would have ended up off-gassing over decades, and contributing to climate change here. So a big part of what we do is trying to reduce that”.

Off-gassing describes the release of gasses, such as methane, from decomposing landfill.

The key purpose of the resource centre is to reduce waste.

But a community has also grown up around A Mua, which is important to Walker too.

“We’ve built a really tight community group here now – we have a lot of regulars come in here.

Some people come in every time we’re open. It’s just a really nice place to come and get to know others who have similar interests.”

It is a sentiment echoed by the volunteers.

Murray Johnson, who donates his time twice a week, enjoys the people at A Mua and the opportunity to use, share and grow his knowledge.

Last year he became a certified electrical tag and tester, funded by the Featherston’s Own Charitable Trust, allowing the centre to accept still-functioning electrical items and on-sell them once tested as safe.

Anney Ross has been volunteering at A Mua for about 18 months.

“I really enjoy the company of other volunteers and that I’m giving something back to my community. Working with the same group of people every week you just get to know each other and look forward to seeing each other.”

As the resource centre approaches its second birthday, Walker has an eye on the future.

On the wish list are projects like recladding the main building, installing new roller doors, and “pretty much giving the whole place a zhuzh up”, he said – although putting these kinds of ideas into action will depend on available funding and volunteer time.

Walker said A Mua receives very little in the way of support from council.

“In larger cities, and even some small towns, councils actually do run operations like this. All the staff, their council staff, are paid. That is not the case here. Most of us are volunteers. So we pretty much have to make do by ourselves,” he said.

The volume of unwanted items coming through the centre can feel overwhelming at times, said Katie Abbott, a volunteer who travels from Greytown to cover a regular Monday shift.

Abbott has some advice for the community to help stem the flow of goods to landfill or facilities like A Mua.

“Before you start buying ask yourself, ‘Do I need this? What’s it made of? And if it ends up in the landfill, will it take thousands of years to decompose?’”

A Mua is open on Monday and Wednesdays 10am – 12pm, and Saturdays 10am – 2pm.

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