Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

18 March 2010

Open 7 Days 23. Granity 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.

102 Torea Street, Granity, West Coast.
Proprietor: Daryll Watson with Roz McNeilly
It’s a tough coast hereabouts, a narrow strip of sand and shingle, the restless Tasman Sea on one side and the steep, largely trackless bush behind.

In the hills that block the rising sun from the store there’s a treasure of coal. While it maintains Granity’s economy now, it could, in Daryll’s opinion (and no doubt many of his neighbours) lead to real prosperity if, ‘some large conglomerate could get stuck in and mine the coal on a serious basis’.
The majority of the people of working age who live in Granity are employed in the few privately owned mines or the vast open-cast state mine at Stockton. The Granity Store supplies them with milk, bread, postal services and all general household needs including the weekly Four Square specials.

There are also tearooms, which Daryll, a carpenter by trade, built himself and he and Roz are currently establishing a fish-and-chips takeaway.

Roz says the visitors’ talk in the tearooms is usually about the beautiful scenery of the Heaphy Track or nearby Charming Creek, with its spectacular waterfall, bridge and tunnels. The locals, on the other hand, deplore the ‘pounds’ of whitebait that leave the coast! Well, they can’t eat them all, can they?
Granity was named by gold miners from the large granite rocks in the area. A short distance north of the town is the mouth of the Mokihinui River, where once stood Kynnersley, site of the last of the big West Coast gold rushes of the 1860s. The town was washed away in 1867 and nothing is left except ghosts.
If you can stand the sandflies and the weather, you can still do a bit of gold prospecting around Granity. Daryll or Roz will sell you sandfly repellent before you go and fish and chips and a cup of tea afterwards if you feel you’ve had enough!


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By Don Donovan