Behind the doors of a double garage at Summerset on the Coast, you’ll find The Shed – where a group of residents gets together to ply their trades and when they can, help other residents out.                                               

Among them is Hans Audier, a former builder who enjoys spending his downtime immersed in the camaraderie and productivity of The Shed. 

Hans at work

Hans and his wife Nel moved to New Zealand from Holland in 1958, a journey that took six weeks by sea. Hans had an engineering background, but when Nel’s brothers joined them in New Zealand, Hans found himself contemplating a change of career. “They were both builders,” Hans says. “At that time of course, it was easy to go to another job. You make more money in the building trade – so I went into the building trade.” 

During this time Hans and Nel spent four years on the Chatman Islands, where Hans worked as a building maintenance supervisor for the Ministry of Works.  Some of their highlights on the island included, building an extension on the Island's hospital and building a hall for the Pitt Island school.

More than 40 years later, Hans and Nel found themselves considering a move to a retirement village. “The garden was getting a bit too big for my wife to handle,” Hans says. “So we made the decision to shift to a retirement village.” 

They began looking for a suitable place – and then a chance encounter led them to Summerset on the Coast. “We’re members of the Motor Caravan Association, because we’ve got a campervan,” Hans says. “One of the other members was living here and he said, ‘Why don’t you come and have a look around?’ And there was an open day coming up, so we did.”

The first couple of properties they viewed didn’t suit them perfectly, but then one of the villas was exactly what Hans and Nel had in mind. “I said, ‘That’ll do me!’ and we bought it right there and then,” Hans says. “That was 10 years ago – time flies!” 

Hans and Nel have found that the Summerset life suits their lifestyle now – but also gives them peace of mind that when their needs change, the community at Summerset on the Coast will be there for them. “We’re quite happy to be by ourselves,” Hans says, “but if we can’t drive anymore and can’t go away with the campervan, then we’ll join in.”

Having care on hand is another major aspect of that peace of mind. “This is a safe place to live,” Hans says, “And you know that if you need help, there’s help here.” 

In the meantime, if he’s not out and about or away with Nel in the caravan, you might find Hans in The Shed – where he puts his woodworking and construction skills to use fixing up old or broken furniture for fellow residents. “Some people say that they came here to retire, not to work,” Hans says – but as someone who still takes pleasure in making things with his hands, he definitely doesn’t agree.

Summerset on the Coast's Man Cave