Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

17 February 2010

Open 7 Days 8. T-Jays Superette, Waihi

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.

30 Barry Road, Waihi.
Proprietors: Trevor and Doreen Powell

The Powells took over the store in 1987, the latest in a series of owners going back to 1909, when it was built to service what was then a separate little settlement to the north of the main town of Waihi. In those days there were other stores and a hotel, which was subsequently removed to Rotorua and became the Princes Gate.

Coincidentally, Waihi was at the peak of good fortune in 1909, and it’s only a short step away from T-Jays to the gaunt ruins of the Martha Mine pump house building, relic of one of the world’s most productive goldfields. Today a mining renaissance exploits the gold and other minerals that still enrich the strata of Martha Hill.

Trevor Powell is a professional storekeeper of the old school. He learned his trade with Farmers’ and Super Value in Matamata, and with Farmers’ Co-op in Kaponga and Ohura (where he witnessed the closing of the state coal mines). His experience and an opportunistic move to Auckland later fitted him to help set up New World, Pak ‘n Save and Four Square stores all over the North Island, from Northland to King Country to Poverty Bay, before he and Doreen took over the superette.

One solid, no-nonsense structure, T-Jays and the adjoining house reflect the steadfast earnestness of a goldmining town. The customers comprise local residents and travellers heading for the beaches and resorts of the eastern Coromandel.
And, no doubt, once the kids at No. 21 have sold their pups they’ll be in to T-Jays to spend some of the proceeds on ice lollies or Coke.


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By Don Donovan