If you build it they will come

JONATHON HOWE
Last updated 12:00 05/04/2012

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An array of infamous New Zealand shipwrecks adorn the walls and shelves of Palmerston North pensioner Trevor Hobman's shed.

Handmade model replicas of the Wahine, Rainbow Warrior and Hydrabad, which sunk off the coast of Waitarere Beach in 1878, join planes, trains, tractors and Maori carvings in the makeshift Mini Model Museum he has set up in the shed of his Hokowhitu home.

Mr Hobman, 85, has become popular with staff and pupils of nearby Hokowhitu School, with hundreds of children visiting the museum in the past month.

Though Mr Hobman, a retired floorer, has always been a fan of making things, he built most of the 100-plus models in the past seven years after a fire destroyed the contents of his shed.

"I've been doing it for years but I've just been concentrating on this in the last three years, getting it all together for my own enjoyment more than anything else."

"A few weeks ago a crowd heard about it and they wanted to come around so I said `OK'. "[There was] about 40 of them, adults they were, and then the school wanted to show the kids, so I put the sign up and they've been in and out the whole time."

"They enjoy it. You get 40 or so kids and it's a babble."

When the Manawatu Standard arrived, the five and six-year-olds from Hokowhitu School's Funtastic Four class were taking a look.

Teacher Trish Symes said it was a treat for the children but also an educational experience.

"The whole language in here is fantastic, they are just asking questions and learning."

When asked by the children why he made the models, Mr Hobman said it kept him busy in his retirement.

"It's just a matter of keeping yourself doing something. They are all made from scrap wood that I pick up around the town. So there's no expense except a little bit of paint."

He uses pictures, plans and books to make the scale models.

One of Mr Hobman's favourite pieces is the replica of the Mikhail Lermontov – a Soviet ocean liner that ran aground on rocks in the Marlborough Sounds in 1986.

"That took about three months to make," he said.

Mr Hobman said he planned to keep the museum open for about another week but he was happy for people to come and take a look before – just as long as the sign is out.

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- Manawatu Standard

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