Several decades later, and Neil, who lives in a Kāinga Ora home near Nelson, still has a passion for minimising waste and volunteers his time to help people connect their unwanted items with someone who can give them a new lease on life.

“I just love helping people…it keeps me going,” he says.

Neil is so well-known in the community for his voluntary work and upcycling expertise that people who are moving or tidying their homes often stop him in the supermarket to ask if he can help them find a home for their things they no longer need – but think someone else could have a use for.

Neil with Dale, Kāinga Ora Manager Housing and Wellbeing Support.

When he agrees to pick up items, Neil does so free of charge, and connects them with people and organisations that need them. Sometimes, he’ll drop the goods off to local charities, but often he’ll know someone in the community who could benefit from the clothes, firewood or other items he picks up, and he will kindly drop them off to them.

Neil also enjoys tinkering away in his garden, where he transforms unwanted wooden pallets into things that he can either use in his own home or that will help other people.

“I make all kinds of things – it’s amazing what you can do with a simple pallet. People have asked me to make everything from rabbit hutches to barbeque tables – I’ve been making them for years. I’ve also made planter boxes and wooden steps for older people to help them up steps,” he says.

Dale, Kāinga Ora Manager Housing and Wellbeing Support, says Neil’s good deeds have had a positive impact on people from all walks of life. “I think the thing that stands out to me is the wide range of people who he has helped – from very young mothers through to older customers in their 70s and 80s.

“The other impact is the amount of things that he’s diverted from landfill that have been repurposed, and repurposed in a way that’s helpful to other people,” Dale says.

And for Neil, helping people is what it’s all about.

“I wouldn’t even be able to count how many people I’ve been able to help by doing this, and I’m still going to keep going on – it’s what I love doing,” says Neil.  

Media Contact

Page updated: 24 April 2023