Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

22 February 2010

Open 7 Days 10. Hicks Bay General 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.

Wharf Road, Hicks Bay, East Cape.
Proprietors: Tama and Lena Hiini

It dates from about 1910. The Hiinis have had it since 1980. Tama thinks it has two or three roof layers, has been extended at least twice and has had about ten owners since new.

Hicks Bay General Store has always been a meeting place for the three hundred residents and up to a thousand holidaymakers who come to the bay in summertime. Mail comes in six days a week, fresh bread daily, milk twice a week. They sell groceries, petrol, oil, clothing, toys, hardware, haberdashery, small goods, gifts, jewellery, fishing equipment and pharmaceuticals. They hire videos, have had a postal agency since 1988 and were expecting a liquor licence when I called. As Tama says, ‘The peculiar thing is that it’s a peculiar thing to find a true general store in this day and age.’

Lena comes from Horoera, a hamlet on the way to East Cape lighthouse. Tama was born in Manaia on the Coromandel. He and Lena married when he was in the army, and they bought the store when he was discharged. Their children are grown up and ‘do their own thing’ now, but Lena says that quite a number of the old Hicks Bay families are returning to this friendly place from the cities, re-examining their whakapapa and, through children’s education and adult courses at the nearby Wharekahika Kokiri Centre, are regaining their origins.


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By Don Donovan