ARTICLE Donna Blaber
There’s something incredibly Kiwi about corrugated iron. Take a good look ‘round next time you’re out and about and you will spot many a roof, fence, bach and barn clad in its distinctive rippled waves. The more you look the more you see.
But nowhere embraces its versatility like the small South Waikato township of Tirau where it has become something of a fashion statement, adorning almost every high street building in some way, shape or form. And we’re not talking ‘slim line’ baby iron either, but good old fashioned bog standard corrugated, painted every colour of the rainbow.
Like so many tales of the rise and fall of small towns, it all began with a sheep. Only this sheep was to become the focal point in a town that was keen to make an impression, and attract passersby to stop and take a look around.
So a sheep was built. Then along came a dog. Not just any old dog, a rather good looking Waikato working dog. Thing was, the sheep had been so damn hard to erect the builders had bailed, leaving long time local Henry Clothier with no other option than to volunteer his son Steven to do the job – in his spare time.
Steven, a mechanic by trade, had never done anything like it in his life. Regardless, he roused up his old chum Tom Langley, a local sheep farmer and the pair set to work. The year was 1999 and the job took three months to complete. Three months of working with wooden frame supports, painstakingly cutting out wibbly-wobbly iron cladding, and driving thousands upon thousands of rivets in by hand.
A guy from Christchurch came by and loved the dog. “I’ll take three horses and a cactus,” he said.
Then local businesses began commissioning pieces, a sunflower for the Garden Centre, a pukeko for the Tirau Country Store, a teddy here, a bee there, and so it went on…
Soon enough the whole town had undergone a complete transformation with every nook and cranny sporting some kind of craftily constructed corrugated creation. Today, arriving at the northern outskirts of town you’d be hard pressed not to see the Clothier’s large white workshop on SH1. Big, bold, bright and beautiful, every commission here is built to order and you can have whatever you want.
Although the tin snips and hand riveter are long gone, cutting is still a real knack, so contrary to popular belief, smaller in the case of corrugated creations is not necessarily cheaper. The work is super-smooth, “kids can crawl on our stuff,” says Sheryn, and roofing paint provides a long-lasting finish.
Visit Corrugated Creations at the corner of SH1 and Puketirau Road in Tirau, or online at www.corrugatedcreations.co.nz