Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

10 February 2010

Open 7 Days 3. Parakao 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.


Corner of Mangakahia and Hunter Roads, Parakao, Northland.
Proprietors: Charlie and Myra Moates
The cluster of neat buildings that comprises Parakao lies in rolling hill country north of the main road connecting Dargaville to Whangarei. The store services a large dairy, sheep and forestry area, and ‘dabbles in just about everything that can be used in the house or on the farm’.

Hours are flexible most days 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ‘or thereabouts depending on what’s on’. Judging from the Moates’s warm welcome, they’d always put their customers first when deciding whether or not to close the front door.

Harry Muir built the original part of the store back in 1930 but soon sold it to Burns Philp, who installed a manager, Happy Smith, until it was taken over in 1941 by Colin ‘Doc’ Campbell and his wife, Amy (who later became deputy mayor of Kaikohe). Three more owners, the Nelleys, Attwoods and Parkers, followed before Charlie and Myra Moates bought the store on New Year’s Day 1973.

Myra was born in Invercargill. Her career as a state registered nurse has taken her all over New Zealand, and also into service in the army and navy. Charlie was born in Devonport, worked for a stock and station agency and was also in the New Zealand Army, in Malaya. They have two children, Callum and Donalda, whose names reflect a touch of Scots ancestry.
I asked Myra if she had any interesting stories to tell about local identities. It seems there are plenty, but she refused to divulge any secrets - she says she wouldn’t want to embarrass anybody; there’s loyalty for you!


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By Don Donovan