Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

16 May 2010

Open 7 Days 38 (Final). Te Pohue Derelict 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.
The book contained 37 general stores. This is the final page.
Highway 5, Te Pohue, Hawke’s Bay.
Empty, lifeless and encrusted with peeling paint, the Te Pohue Store seems to exemplify the rural decline of the 1980s. When I called at the local hotel to find out something about the store, I was told that the people of Te Pohue drive to Napier for their groceries these days. That’s a distance of nearly fifty kilometres, but short enough to kill off one general store!

I was fortunate to make contact with Peter King, formerly of nearby Rock Station, who told me a little of the shop’s history.

The building has been on its site for about a hundred years. It started life as a billiards saloon but became the store in 1910 when Grant and Howell’s store, opposite, burned down and they moved across the road. Percy Howell married Grant’s sister, Leana, and between them they ran the Te Pohue Store. Their three children, born between 1916 and 1920, worked in the store after leaving the village school.

Peter King tells of an occasion when the mare had a foal while still harnessed in the shafts of the delivery cart when Percy had popped inside the store to have his lunch! Later he did his deliveries to the local farming community and five timber mills in a less capricious ‘International’ truck.

The store was brightly lighted with rock gas in the early days, and in addition to the usual stock, all of which was served from shelves behind the counter, Peter King particularly remembers a speciality – ‘bachelor buttons’ a device made in two parts that could be clipped onto trousers, thus obviating the need for sewing on buttons.

Westal Tucker took over the store in 1948 but, sadly, it closed down in 1967.



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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.