Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

24 February 2010

Open 7 Days 12. Pukehou 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.

State Highway 2, Pukehou, Central Hawke’s Bay.
Proprietors: Anne Miller and Noel Brinson

Between the Raukawa Range and the Tukituki River, Pukehou sits in a gentle valley running north-west from Waipawa to connect with Hastings. It’s a bountiful valley of sheep farmlands, roadside fruit and vegetable stalls and birdlife; particularly the pukekos who inhabit the remnants of once extensive swamplands.

The district is famous for the Anglican Maori boys’ Te Aute College, a short step up the road from the Pukehou store. The store shares with the college a connexion to Archdeacon Samuel Williams, who founded the school in 1850, and the land upon which Pukehou village and the store stand was his gift.
An older store, at Te Aute, closed down in 1982 with the reputation of being the oldest business in New Zealand with a continuous trade from a wooden building.

The Pukehou General Store was built in the early 1920s for Andrew and Christina Priest, immigrants from the Shetland Isles, by their son, Harry, a carpenter. The store flourished in the decade after the late 1940s in the ownership of Neil Forsyth and his wife, who supplied the farming district as comprehensively as any stock and station agent and grocery supermarket combined. They also had a bread and grocery delivery round, ran two school buses, and a taxi service with cars available any hour of the day or night.
A Napier woman by birth, Anne Miller, who was a nurse for some years, bought the store in 1980 and she and her son, Noel, are now partners in its ownership.

‘Mrs Anne’, as the local children call her, still does a six-day paper run as well as the daily postal service.

Adaptation to modern times is the key to survival, and Anne intends, while maintaining the base of grocery, petrol and postal services, to add to her tearooms by providing fast foods and light meals for the passing motorists on this busy tourist route.


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By Don Donovan