Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

18 March 2010

Open 7 Days 23. Granity 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.

102 Torea Street, Granity, West Coast.
Proprietor: Daryll Watson with Roz McNeilly
It’s a tough coast hereabouts, a narrow strip of sand and shingle, the restless Tasman Sea on one side and the steep, largely trackless bush behind.

In the hills that block the rising sun from the store there’s a treasure of coal. While it maintains Granity’s economy now, it could, in Daryll’s opinion (and no doubt many of his neighbours) lead to real prosperity if, ‘some large conglomerate could get stuck in and mine the coal on a serious basis’.
The majority of the people of working age who live in Granity are employed in the few privately owned mines or the vast open-cast state mine at Stockton. The Granity Store supplies them with milk, bread, postal services and all general household needs including the weekly Four Square specials.

There are also tearooms, which Daryll, a carpenter by trade, built himself and he and Roz are currently establishing a fish-and-chips takeaway.

Roz says the visitors’ talk in the tearooms is usually about the beautiful scenery of the Heaphy Track or nearby Charming Creek, with its spectacular waterfall, bridge and tunnels. The locals, on the other hand, deplore the ‘pounds’ of whitebait that leave the coast! Well, they can’t eat them all, can they?
Granity was named by gold miners from the large granite rocks in the area. A short distance north of the town is the mouth of the Mokihinui River, where once stood Kynnersley, site of the last of the big West Coast gold rushes of the 1860s. The town was washed away in 1867 and nothing is left except ghosts.
If you can stand the sandflies and the weather, you can still do a bit of gold prospecting around Granity. Daryll or Roz will sell you sandfly repellent before you go and fish and chips and a cup of tea afterwards if you feel you’ve had enough!



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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.