Small house, big passion

04/12/2019. Gisborne. Terry Dunstan with one of the miniature houses/buildings. (Shawn Smits)

By Jessica Micallef

It’s a small world after all at Terry Dunstan’s home.

The Gisborne resident has been hand-making model garages and houses for more than four decades.

The passion for constructing miniature buildings came from a love of model trains.

“In 1975 I started playing with model trains … and I started collecting plastic kits and I made a big town with millions of matchbox cars and plastic cars,” he said.

“I made an awful lot of small houses so I can buy my big ones. I was selling them to mainly the people in model railway clubs which paid for some of my bigger trains.”

Mr Dunstan soon turned his attention to building larger scale model garages and houses made from “recycled whatever”.

He now has a mini town filled with model trains, a post office, garages and a fire station.

“The roofs are made from drink cans, walls are from old floorboards,” he said. “I use millions of icy pole sticks [and] Venetian blinds for the walls.

“I use anything that I can lay my hands on. One of the buildings I have made is made out of chrome bars from a clothes airer.”

Mr Dunstan sells his creations for between $50 and $225 at Gisborne markets. He also makes houses to match a customer’s design. “I built one for a lady, she wanted a Christmas shop. It was a bit out of my comfort zone but I built it for her,” he said.

“I let word of mouth go. It’s not a business it’s a hobby. I don’t have to make them I just do it because I love it.”