Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

03 May 2010

Open 7 Days 33. Patearoa Community 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.
Patearoa, Central Otago.
Proprietors: Bill and Mal Warren

In 1987 the century-old Patearoa Store and its post office were on the point of closing down. However, the locals wouldn’t hear of it, so they clubbed together (as did the people of Millers Flat) to buy the land and buildings, which they now lease to the Warrens.

Bill, a retired Christchurch policeman, and Mal, an unretired sign-writer, own the Pateroa Hotel across the road. It dates from 1928 and is on the site of one built by Thomas Newton in 1887. It was called the Sowburn Hotel then, and the first store was next door, on land owned by the publican. That hotel, like so many others in New Zealand over the years, burned down in 1927.

In the 1940s the publican, Arthur Keegan, tried to raise the rent and this incensed Mr Robertson, the storekeeper, so much that he bought the abandoned Upper Kyeburn schoolhouse, moved it from near Dansey Pass and set it up on the other side of the hotel. The resultant ill-feeling was sorted out by the parish priest. What now constitutes the Patearoa Store is the old store and the schoolhouse butted together.
Patearoa was part of the Central Otago goldfields, and remains of the nearby Sowburn diggings are evident in buildings and abandoned machinery. Now a farming area, it’s a vibrant community, its residents competing actively around the Maniototo Plain at rugby, cricket, tennis, golf and bowls. The store, besides being a postal agency, supplies general groceries, milk, bread, newspapers and the friendliest of welcomes.


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By Don Donovan