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Pop CultureDecember 2, 2016

Why my humble garden hut should be a contender for TVNZ’s Shed of the Year


Tara Ward watches the iconic TVNZ 1 series Shed of the Year, and brings together some key criteria for an average shed to reach shed glory. 

I have a confession: I love sheds.

My new love blossomed last Tuesday night, when George Clarke strolled onto my screen in Amazing Spaces: Shed of the Year. He was on a search to find the best shed in Britain, and wanted me to come with him.

“Steady on, George,” I said. “It’s just a shed.” How wrong I was.

Forget your traditional garden hut filled with broken spades and half empty bottles of weedkiller. The Shed of the Year finalists are portals into a fabulously eccentric world where a shed is a wild west saloon, a three wing eco palace, or even — gird your loins — the world’s fastest room on wheels.

Build it, and they will come.


Discovering these sheds is like being pulled into the dark depths of the owner’s imagination. You can’t help but admire their passion and ingenuity, no matter how kooky their shed is. “I wanted to be detached from reality,” said John, who turned his garage into a replica Vietnam War outpost to spy on his girlfriend from behind a wall of sandbags. Love your work, John.

With my heart racing like a plywood shed-van, thoughts turned to my own humble garden hut. Could it too be a contender for Shed of the Year?

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but look at it. Somebody call Te Papa, because it’s a national bloody treasure.


Some may recognise this as a child’s playhouse, but if a van on wheels can make the Shed of the Year shortlist, then so can my plastic house of paradise. While I make room on my mantlepiece for one of George Clarke’s fancy rosettes, let’s see what it takes to be a Shed of the Year finalist.

The shed must be unique

The unique category of Shed of the Year features a veritable smorgasboard of tasty shed delights, including a rotating room and an entire shed village. Thankfully there’s no child’s playhouse, which is both a blessing and an incredible oversight.

The winning shed is imaginatively named ‘The Shed’. I can only assume the owner was being ironic, because this ‘shed’ cost nearly half a million pounds to build and rotates on demand. With the flick of a switch, the building slowly turns a full 360 degrees, letting the owner chase the sun and choose his own view.


Big deal. My shed blows over in heavy winds, but you don’t see me banging on about it.


Includes interesting historical features

Now, look. I gave that enormous rotating walnut the benefit of the doubt, but calling a 20 metre Anglo-Saxon long hall a ‘shed’ is just taking the piss.


Inside this enormous cathedral — with beams so high they’re practically in another time zone — members of an Anglo-Saxon reenactment society don traditional costume, drink out of horns and party like it’s 999 all over again.


The long hall features a replica fresco depicting aspects of everyday life, like the time Anglo-Saxon Poldark scythed hay with his shirt on and threatened to stab a monk. My shed features a frieze of stars and hearts, courtesy of my kid who was pissed off I wouldn’t let her draw on the walls inside the house.


I’d have encouraged that shit from birth if I’d known it would make me a Shed of the Year finalist. Where’s my horn? I need a drink.

Enjoys a pleasant outlook

Dylan Thomas’ writing hut sits perched on a cliff in Wales, enveloped by the calming serenity of the sky and sea. In Scotland, a boat wheelhouse shed gazes out into the wild North Sea and feasts upon a view of dolphins and submarines. It’s so inspiring and beautiful I want to cry tears of tiny cabin joy.


My shed looks onto a brick wall. I imagine it’s like being in prison. Probably not to everyone’s taste, but neither is a shed driving ninety miles an hour down a racetrack.


Able to survive nuclear fallout

 An underground bunker sounds like an excellent move now that Trump’s getting his tiny T-Rex hands on the nuclear codes. Not only does this authentic cold-war bunker protects you from nuclear fallout, it provides all you’ll need to survive those first few tricky post-apocalypse days.

Note to self: stock up on sticking plasters


Bloody nuclear war, it’s my downfall every time. There’s no way I can beat a bunker filled with government issue toilet paper and geiger counters. My shed would survive a nuclear attack like a serviette umbrella in a thunderstorm, no matter how many sticking plasters I used for protection.

Still, the dream was good while it lasted. Shed of the Year, you had me at hello. May your quirkiness and creativity last as long as an Anglo-Saxon meeting house, may you always look out upon pleasant seas, and may you forever remain upright in a strong wind.

Amazing Spaces: Shed of the Year airs Tuesdays on TVNZ 1 at 7.30pm

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