Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

17 February 2010

Open 7 Days 8. T-Jays Superette, Waihi

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.

30 Barry Road, Waihi.
Proprietors: Trevor and Doreen Powell

The Powells took over the store in 1987, the latest in a series of owners going back to 1909, when it was built to service what was then a separate little settlement to the north of the main town of Waihi. In those days there were other stores and a hotel, which was subsequently removed to Rotorua and became the Princes Gate.

Coincidentally, Waihi was at the peak of good fortune in 1909, and it’s only a short step away from T-Jays to the gaunt ruins of the Martha Mine pump house building, relic of one of the world’s most productive goldfields. Today a mining renaissance exploits the gold and other minerals that still enrich the strata of Martha Hill.

Trevor Powell is a professional storekeeper of the old school. He learned his trade with Farmers’ and Super Value in Matamata, and with Farmers’ Co-op in Kaponga and Ohura (where he witnessed the closing of the state coal mines). His experience and an opportunistic move to Auckland later fitted him to help set up New World, Pak ‘n Save and Four Square stores all over the North Island, from Northland to King Country to Poverty Bay, before he and Doreen took over the superette.

One solid, no-nonsense structure, T-Jays and the adjoining house reflect the steadfast earnestness of a goldmining town. The customers comprise local residents and travellers heading for the beaches and resorts of the eastern Coromandel.
And, no doubt, once the kids at No. 21 have sold their pups they’ll be in to T-Jays to spend some of the proceeds on ice lollies or Coke.



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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.