Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

03 May 2010

Open 7 Days 33. Patearoa Community 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.
Patearoa, Central Otago.
Proprietors: Bill and Mal Warren

In 1987 the century-old Patearoa Store and its post office were on the point of closing down. However, the locals wouldn’t hear of it, so they clubbed together (as did the people of Millers Flat) to buy the land and buildings, which they now lease to the Warrens.

Bill, a retired Christchurch policeman, and Mal, an unretired sign-writer, own the Pateroa Hotel across the road. It dates from 1928 and is on the site of one built by Thomas Newton in 1887. It was called the Sowburn Hotel then, and the first store was next door, on land owned by the publican. That hotel, like so many others in New Zealand over the years, burned down in 1927.

In the 1940s the publican, Arthur Keegan, tried to raise the rent and this incensed Mr Robertson, the storekeeper, so much that he bought the abandoned Upper Kyeburn schoolhouse, moved it from near Dansey Pass and set it up on the other side of the hotel. The resultant ill-feeling was sorted out by the parish priest. What now constitutes the Patearoa Store is the old store and the schoolhouse butted together.
Patearoa was part of the Central Otago goldfields, and remains of the nearby Sowburn diggings are evident in buildings and abandoned machinery. Now a farming area, it’s a vibrant community, its residents competing actively around the Maniototo Plain at rugby, cricket, tennis, golf and bowls. The store, besides being a postal agency, supplies general groceries, milk, bread, newspapers and the friendliest of welcomes.



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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.