Building hope for the future through the construction of small houses in Timaru


Finally, after more than a year of waiting due to Covid-19, a Timaru man is about to build a 60 sqm two-bedroom house in 60 hours for charity, and he will have special helpers for help.

From 6am on Friday, James South will build the tiny house and auction it on Monday morning to raise money for mental health charity I Am Hope – and joining him for the weekend will be the founder of the association, mental health advocate Mike King.

I Am Hope is the youth and community-focused support group run by The Key to Life Charitable Trust, founded by King.

Construction is something South had hoped to do in September 2021, but Covid put a stop to it, and for the past year he has been preparing for weekend construction, including getting up earlier in the morning to organize things.

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A builder from Lone Pine Building, South said his own experiences with depression and mental health prompted the fundraiser.

James South said he felt calm ahead of building his 60 Hour Tiny House for I Am Hope.


James South said he felt calm ahead of building his 60 Hour Tiny House for I Am Hope.

“I struggled throughout my teenage years with depression and anxiety and more real help is needed,” he said.

“I woke up one day and said to my girlfriend, ‘I want to do something to help’.”

He decided to call on his skills as a six-year-old builder and said the weekend’s task was daunting, but exciting.

He hopes to raise more than $100,000 and on Wednesday morning said he was calm and had the next two days off to line everything up.

While he would build solidly for the first 24 hours of the task, South said he had a group of volunteers ready to work shifts over the 60 hours.

“I have a sorted timeline for everyone to get the job done.”

South’s uncle, Craig South, who is an architect, also designed the tiny house being built.

Mental health advocate Mike King will also be at the 60 Hour build.

Abigail Dougherty / Stuff

Mental health advocate Mike King will also be at the 60 Hour build.

Having King on site throughout the weekend and during Monday’s auction would add to the experience, South said.

“It’ll be great to have Mike there, and hopefully he’ll be there to rank everyone up.”

The auction will take place on live television, he said.

A large percentage of building materials were donated, and South said there was a lot of community support for the project.

However, he was still looking for cash sponsors to help raise more money, and he could be reached through social media.

He encouraged people to visit the construction site, at the Timaru campus of Ara-Te Pūkenga, at the corner of North and Theodosia streets, as there would be many activities to participate in.

James South at a construction site in Timaru this week.


James South at a construction site in Timaru this week.

Paul Kelliher, senior member of academic staff at Ara-Te Pūkenga, said the students had worked hard to put the foundations of the project in place.

Students dual enrolled at the school and at Ara built the mobile hangar that the team will use on site.

“It was all driven by James, but it was great to be here supporting him with deliveries and site preparation,” Kelliher said.

“We are very keen to do everything we can to share important messages about mental health in our industry. This is something we are very aware of.”

Mason Gosney, 9, throws a rubber boot during Timaru's rubber boot throwing competition held at Shearer's Quarters last month.


Mason Gosney, 9, throws a rubber boot during Timaru’s rubber boot throwing competition held at Shearer’s Quarters last month.

Ara Te Pūkenga Southern Campus Principal Leonie Rasmussen said the organization was happy to play a part in South’s initiative.

“We also offer access to our facilities to help the team continue 24 hours a day over the weekend,” she said.

“It will be an exciting event over a tight time frame with classes as usual back in place on Monday morning.”

Other Gumboot Friday fundraisers have taken place across the region in recent weeks, including a Gumboot throwing competition at Shearer’s Quarters and Hugh Slobbe’s 24-hour rise in rubber boots.


safety rope (open 24/7) – 0800 543 354

Depression Helpline (open 24/7) – 0800 111 757

Health Line (open 24/7) – 0800 611 116

Samaritans (open 24/7) – 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who are thinking about suicide or those who are worried about their family or friends.

Youth line (open 24/7) – 0800 376 633. You can also text free to 234 between 8am and midnight, or email [email protected]

0800 WHAT’S UP child helpline – telephone 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and 3pm and 10pm on weekends. Live chat is available from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Children’s line (open 24/7) – 0800 543 754. This service is intended for children aged 5 to 18. Those who call between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are telephone advisers specially trained for teenagers.

Your local Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)

Help with alcohol and drugs (open 24/7) – 0800 787 797. You can also text free to 8691.

For more information, contact the Mental Health FoundationFree resource and information service (09 623 4812).


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