Kiwi Garages by George Lockyer
The tag line for this book is ‘Inside New Zealanders’ happy places’ brings to mind the hours spent tinkering, adjusting, creating and relaxing within those little additions to the family home. Sure, there are many among us who just use the garage as a place to keep the car, and any other bits and pieces that just don’t quite fit in the living spaces. No matter what your usage of the sanctum of the garage, there are few born and raised in New Zealand that will argue that the garage can be a place of refuge, as much as a world within a world.
In compiling the material for Kiwi Garages, George Lockyer had scoured the country finding some of the more eccentric keepers of the humble garage, as well as showcasing some of the more traditional and subtle attributes of Kiwi garages. Taking a leaf out of some previous book efforts, Lockyer contacted a whole range of people, from motorcycle clubs, vintage car clubs, to enthusiasts in order to narrow down the options to 28 lucky garage owners, whose pride and joy is on show within the pages of the book.
Using 2020 as his year of creation, he hit the road and covered the whole country, relying on his trusty motorcycle for the south island and flights and rental cars for the north. Like himself, he found others who were self-professed lovers of their garage and celebrated them in all their glory - sometimes warts and all.
He’s focused on the quirky. The vast range in and of itself is worthy of heaped praise for the author. A personal favourite being the competency and success of the brewery with owner, Stuart Reed. There really is something for everyone lurking in the pages of Kiwi Garages. It’s the skill and the persistent drive that really stands out in the stories. Certainly the level of mediocrity in garages known to the local kids around our area pales in comparison to the real talent that exists in so many forms.
Nostalgia aside, the practicalities of the garage as a work space or museum are not understated in the write ups that sit alongside the imagery, which, as a side note, is fantastic. As in all of George Lockyer’s books he has focused on the very human side to whatever is being presented. And Kiwi Garages is no different. He looks at the ideas and catalysts behind the inspiration in the presentation of the various garages and creates a profile of each of the owners in such a way that it demonstrates the creativity and enthusiasm that these people have.
It’s not just a man’s world. Many women are featured with their various entrepreneurial or artisan angles. And it is that breadth of interest that makes this book stand out. So often there is just the one aspect of vintage cars, or motorcycles, or painters, or whatever, so there is a real point of difference and of interest between those other styled books and this, more general one.
Insights into the lives of others is always a fascinating experience. To see how others while away the time in the sanctuaries of their homes. There is always something new coming out of a Kiwi garage, it’s just a matter of time before Kiwi garages really do change the world.
Reviewer: Chris Reed