Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

04 March 2010

Open 7 Days 15. Piriaka 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 Highway South, Taumarunui.
Proprietor: Joy-Ellen ‘Taffy’ Climo

Waving the flag is a tradition that’s become unfashionable recently, so it was nice to see the New Zealand ensign flying so proudly over the Piriaka Store. The store has been in the family for many years, and tradition is important to Joy Climo.

‘My grandfather John Braithwaite and his wife were early settlers during the mill days [1900s], when he had a mill at Piriaka. There used to be a mill where the shop stands. My uncle, William Braithwaite, once owned the shop. He and his friend Lefty Gray ran out of beer once so they emptied all the bottles of liniment out then put the empties back in boxes on the shelves. You can imagine what happened - many men went home trying to ride their horses and bikes back to front. It’s a wonder nobody died!’
That was in the era when the King Country was officially ‘dry’ but ’sly grogging’ was rampant, Matai beer being made by the railway workers and whisky brought in by packhorse from Tokaanu.

While Joy, who took the store over from her sister Carol Laurent in 1985, insists that she maintains the family tradition of ‘serving the needs of the people’ it’s strictly Four Square and postal services these days, and ’sly grogging’ is consigned to history.
This cryptic sign opposite the store is obviously not intended for high-speed readership by passing traffic!


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By Don Donovan