Our Story

Shade Systems is a New Zealand family business with activity dating back to before WWII. Our Story is now in the 3rd generation of family ownership and management. Mr S.R. Suckling worked most of his life in the Canvas trade, including running a large team of men manufacturing army tents for the government’s war effort. He started a business under his own name in 1964. He handed this down to his sons in 1976 and from 2005, D.R. Suckling took over ownership. In summary, the family has been involved in shelter and shade for nearly 80 years and formally trading as a commercial entity for over 50 years.

Key milestones in our timeline:

  • 1964 S. R. Suckling Canvas goods/manufacturing established.
  • 1976 Business management taken on by S. R. Suckling’s sons.
  • 1985 Began marketing/selling products nationwide.

In the 1990s, under the new ‘Shade Systems’ banner, the company started making sail and shade structures exclusively. As a result, Shade Systems expanded significantly, moving to a new building and recruiting expert staff, with a focus on new structural ideas and designs:


  • 1993 First education project for Selwyn Park Primary School.
  • 1997 Shade Systems name is born.
  • 2002 New purpose made factory built for Canvas and Shade fabrication in Dargaville.
  • 2005 There the business management was handed on to D. R. Suckling.


Most noteworthy, a turning point for the company occurred in 2006 with the introduction of Covered Outdoor Learning Areas (COLA Canopies). In brief, we  derived the concept from polycarbonate-covered canopies, where polycarbonate roofing provides shade and weather protection:


  • 2007 First COLA Canopy installed at Whangarei Primary School.
  • 2008 PVC Tensile Membrane roofing concept was born.
  • 2009 Export division begins.
  • 2009 First PVC Tensile Membrane COLA was installed at Cornwall Park School (Auckland).


Over the last few years, Shade Systems has gone from strength to strength. Therefore we now produce shade structures for international customers, exporting our products globally:


  • 2011 Becomes a registered company (DAPSCO Limited).
  • 2014 Management split between NZ Projects and Export division.
  • 2015 First COLA Canopy installed overseas (Rarotonga National Auditorium).
  • 2017 Opened Auckland office. Also introduced shareholders.
  • 2017 Shade Systems becomes part of an international network with industry-leading shade and weatherproof solution providers: Greenline and Streetspace, with offices in NSW, Australia and Lympne, UK, respectively. 
  • 2018 22 COLA Canopies installed in the past 18 months and over 50 in the past decade.
  • 2018 Open office in Christchurch.

2020 Our NEW large purpose-made shade and membrane fabrication building is complete!


Want to start on your own Shade Systems project? Get in touch with us today.