Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

23 February 2010

Open 7 Days 11. Te Puia Springs 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.

Main Road, Te Puia Springs, East Cape.
Proprietors: Sid and Diane Hanson
‘In such a remote locality it’s not unusual for customers to arrive at the store on horseback. Following Cyclone Bola, bread was flown in by helicopter and handed out free to those in need. Fresh milk is still only delivered two days a week…’ It’s easy to appreciate from Sid Hanson’s comments that East Cape is a world apart.

The store drifted into existence. Around 1940, when sugar was in short supply, Molly Colbert sold lollies to the local children from the front door of her house. In 1976 the local store burnt down and was not replaced, so the Colberts, having tasted sweet success, built the first of many expansions on to the side of their house and the Te Puia Springs Store officially came into existence.

The store has always sold ‘everything’ and at times has included the post office (now a postal service) and a Westpac Bank agency. It serves not only the town and outlying farmers but also nearby Waipiro Bay, where, incidentally, may be seen two deserted general stores, one of which was owned by the Rasmussens, who now have the big store at Ruatoria.

The Hansons bought the store late in 1990. It had been owned by Sid’s brother Eric and his wife, Jill, who turned it into a self-service store with a difference - there’s no checkout. Local customers like to pick out their needs and bring them to the counter, sometimes making half a dozen trips before they’ve completed their purchase. That way they get to catch up on local news and gossip. And when all is said and done, isn’t that what the country general store is all about?


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By Don Donovan