Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Meet the People - 46

Another in the Series Meet the People - Ordinary and Extraordinary New Zealanders Doing Interesting Things - Brian Christey of Oxford, in North Canterbury, is a man with a passion for collecting and recycling. He gathers up old steel, mechanical bits and pieces, old vehicles and timber, with all the enthusiasm of a man on the hunt for lost treasure.
The two-and-a-half acres Brian ("with an 'i' not a 'y'") owns on the outskirts of Oxford village are a testament to his magpie inclinations. Every square inch is home to his gatherings. Old vehicles are stacked up on one side of the property; old machinery in another; and at the centre of it all, is the timber milling operation he runs. But not for Brian the high-tech specifications of modern milling equipment. He's happy with his monster four-sider planing machine circa 1928 (pictured above). It sits on a carpet of sweet-smelling sawdust and happily spews out beautifully-planed lengths of timber the way it always has done. 1957 Morris Oxford It's fair to say that in the 20 years Brian has lived on the property, he's surrounded himself with a veritable 'warehouse' of parts and pieces. He's a self-confessed jack of all trades - part mechanic, engineer, saw-miller, tree-planter, maker of things and solver of problems - and if there's a problem no one else can fix, he reckons he can make a pretty good go of it by adapting something from his jam-packed yard. And as chaotic as it looks to the 'untrained eye,' Brian seems to know exactly where every last, archaic metal relic is.
Bedford D truck
Brian's sawmilling truck
He lives in close proximity too - in an adapted shipping container on site, complete with watch dog. "I don't know why people are complaining about the possibility of prisoners living in these things. With insulation and some easy modifications, they make a great little home," says Brian. With a bedroom at one end, a decent-sized bathroom at the other and a comfortable living room in the centre opening out onto a shady courtyard complete with outdoor furniture made from giant macrocarpa logs, you quickly get the feeling there's no place else Brian would rather be. You also get the feeling he probably has plenty more recycled surprises hoarded away in some other corner we haven't yet seen.

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