Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

23 February 2010

Open 7 Days 11. Te Puia Springs Store

I wrote and illustrated ‘Open 7 Days’. It was published in 1991. It’s a series of freeze-frames of some historic New Zealand general and convenience stores as they were preserved in the last decade of the 20th century. Bit by bit, on this blog, I re-publish some of the entries from that book.

Main Road, Te Puia Springs, East Cape.
Proprietors: Sid and Diane Hanson
‘In such a remote locality it’s not unusual for customers to arrive at the store on horseback. Following Cyclone Bola, bread was flown in by helicopter and handed out free to those in need. Fresh milk is still only delivered two days a week…’ It’s easy to appreciate from Sid Hanson’s comments that East Cape is a world apart.

The store drifted into existence. Around 1940, when sugar was in short supply, Molly Colbert sold lollies to the local children from the front door of her house. In 1976 the local store burnt down and was not replaced, so the Colberts, having tasted sweet success, built the first of many expansions on to the side of their house and the Te Puia Springs Store officially came into existence.

The store has always sold ‘everything’ and at times has included the post office (now a postal service) and a Westpac Bank agency. It serves not only the town and outlying farmers but also nearby Waipiro Bay, where, incidentally, may be seen two deserted general stores, one of which was owned by the Rasmussens, who now have the big store at Ruatoria.

The Hansons bought the store late in 1990. It had been owned by Sid’s brother Eric and his wife, Jill, who turned it into a self-service store with a difference - there’s no checkout. Local customers like to pick out their needs and bring them to the counter, sometimes making half a dozen trips before they’ve completed their purchase. That way they get to catch up on local news and gossip. And when all is said and done, isn’t that what the country general store is all about?



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By Don Donovan

About Me

My photo

Don Donovan: Biography

I was born on 20 January 1933, nine days before Hitler came to power in Germany, I grew up in south London. Although evacuated during the phoney war and the quieter times I lived in and out of air raid shelters during the blitz and experienced both V1 and V2 attacks on London. Left grammar school in 1948 aged 15 substantially undereducated. I wanted to go to art school but because of family ‘poverty’ joined a commercial art studio in the West End. I was, thereafter, variously a messenger boy, commercial artist and typographer. I was in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 when the only useful thing I did was to take part in King George VI’s funeral parade.

In 1955 I married Patricia O’Donnell, a RADA graduate, at that time playing opposite Derek Nimmo, they were juvenile leads in a touring repertory company. He went on to great success because he had a funny voice.

We came to New Zealand in 1960 where I worked in advertising. At length I became managing director of one of the companies of whose holding company (the largest domestic advertising complex in New Zealand) I was also a proprietor and shareholder. I left the industry in 1990 when my company was bought out by American interests. My timing was brilliant, at that point my first book had been published and the next was on its way.

We have two daughters and four grand-children.

Now, apart from writing, I function as a self-educated grumpy old man.

Books & Writings

‘New Zealand Odyssey’, with Euan Sarginson, Heinemann-Reed, 1989.

‘One Man’s Heart Attack’, New House, 1990. (A special edition of this book was purchased by CIBA-Geigy for distribution to NZ doctors).

‘Open 7 Days’, Random Century, October 1991.

‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’ by Saint Publishing in 1995 followed by:
‘New Zealand House & Cottage’ in 1997. (Saint Publishing have also published calendars for the years 1994 to 2004 using my watercolour illustrations).

‘The Wastings’, my first novel was published in July 1999 by Hazard Press. Although an international subject it had very limited distribution, only in New Zealand, and the rights have reverted to me. (Colin Dexter read 'The Wastings' and wrote to me: 'I enjoyed and admired "The Wastings"... a beautifully written work... a splendid debut in crime fiction... More please!'.)

Also the texts of photographic books:
‘Colourful New Zealand’
‘New Zealand in Colour’
‘Top of the South’
‘Above Auckland’
‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’
‘Bay of Plenty’
and a compilation of photographs and quotations titled ‘Anzac Memories’ 2004 all published by New Holland.

My written and illustrated book, ‘Country Churches of New Zealand’ was published in October 2002 by New Holland, who also published ‘Rural New Zealand’ 2004 (photographs and text), and a series of four humorous books of photographs and quotations in 2004 and 2005 titled ‘Woolly Wisdom’, ‘Chewing the Cud’, ‘Fowl Play’, and ‘Pig Tales’. My most recent book was published in August 2006 by New Holland, titled ‘Political Animals’.

Over the years I have written for NZ Herald, Heritage Magazine, Next Magazine and various local and overseas travel and general interest media.