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Tipped for success

Featherston man Guy Walker at the A Mua Community Centre – South Wairarapa’s first resource centre. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM

Sales aplenty for salvageable goods

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A Featherston man has taken South Wairarapa’s lack of a resource centre into his own hands by opening the district’s first “Tip Shop”.

Guy Walker teamed up with Featherston’s Own Charitable Trust to form the A Mua Community Centre, which opened this month.

Walker said A Mua meant “facing the future”, and was an idea he first came up with four years ago when he couldn’t find a reusable store similar to one he would go to in Wellington.

“I was a frequent visitor to the Tip Shop in Wellington and noticed there wasn’t anything similar in Wairarapa outside the resource centre in Masterton,” he said.

“Then I started to notice how much reusable materials were going into the landfills in Carterton and Martinborough, and I was shocked.

“So, I thought it was time to do something about it.”

Walker said he and the trust had taken over an old sizeable industrial site on Boundary Rd in Featherston for the store, where they have seen everything “take off” from day one.

“I’ve been blown away,” Walker said.

“The community has been super supportive, and not just from people in Featherston as we had people coming from Greytown and Martinborough as well.

“There are a lot of people concerned about how our waste is being neglected and how items can be reused instead of being left to moulder in heaps in the landfill.

“A lot of people have been saying it’s about time we had this here, so it’s been an overwhelmingly positive response from people.”

Materials people were dropping off were reusable items that ranged from leftover building materials through to furniture and household objects.

Once materials were dropped off, Walker said they processed them and cleaned them up [if necessary], and then priced them and distributed them around the facility.

Sales had also skyrocketed at the centre.

“Stuff has been flying off the shelves, which has really surprised me,” Walker said.

“People are dropping things off where they normally would have to pay tipping fees, so we’re able to take some items off their hands for nothing.

“So, there are lots of happy customers, and we’re pricing things so that they’re cheap and accessible to all.

“Plenty of people leaving with smiles on their faces.”

Although Walker spoke about the positive start to A Mua, he also told of previous unpleasant experiences he and others had with the staff at Martinborough and Carterton transfer stations when trying to salvage reusable items.

“I know of people, and have experienced myself, that the staff at the tips in Martinborough and Carterton don’t exactly encourage people to take items that are in the landfill,” he said.

“In fact, they’ll yell at you. I was essentially shocked about what I saw going in there, and any attempts you make to recover stuff, you kind of get rebuked by the staff there.

“One friend recently in Martinborough was threatened with a trespass by one of the staff, so I just thought this was a bit ridiculous.”

Carterton District Council [CDC] senior communications and engagement adviser Elisa Brown said the council could not allow people to recover items that have already been disposed of due to health and safety and ownership reasons.

“[CDC’s] transfer station is a hazardous area with drops in land and machinery in operation, and we need to ensure the safety of our staff and residents at all times,” she said.

“We also cannot guarantee the quality or condition of the items people want to reclaim, which is also a health and safety issue.

“Residents pay to dispose of items they drop off at the transfer station, which then makes it council property and becomes problematic if we were then to give that away for free to other residents.

“This is why our council encourages and supports community-led resource centres such as the one in Featherston.”

South Wairarapa District Council could not be reached for comment.

Walker said he was aware of these landfill sites’ health and safety concerns and that these experiences didn’t drive him to open A Mua.

However, he hoped councils would make it easier for people like himself to have access to small reusable items soon.

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