Neil Joseph Hatcher & Janice Anne Hatcher Interview

Today is 1st March 2018. I’m interviewing Neil and Janice Hatcher of Flaxmere on their family in Hastings. Would you like to start, Neil, by telling us something about your family?

About my family … well, ‘bout myself … I was born in Martinborough on 30th April 1937 I believe, my mother told me that. And my father was a paint and paper hanger [noises on recording] at that time. And we moved from Martinborough I believe, to Wellington, and at the age of four I think, we shifted to Wanganui where I did my education … my primary, intermediate and secondary education. I left school at the age of fifteen.

Did you play any sport at school?

I attempted to play sport at school but unfortunately I had suffered a lot with asthma and pneumonia, and that knocked me out of a lot of things, especially swimming, it was an absolute no-no. They wouldn’t allow me to do swimming and I still can’t swim. I’ve never really picked it up and gone with it, but … yep.

Left school, and I got a job with DIC … Direct Importing Company … for a few years and I left there and went to a bakery – yeah, left and went to a bakery; worked at the bakery for a while.

I left there and worked in a warehouse where we handled potatoes, and onions, and wheat, and flour, and … still in Wanganui. That was G S Simpson & Co, and we have a big confectionery block as well. I just worked as a storeman for a while, then at the age of eighteen I think it was, or nineteen, I got my heavy traffic licence and I was driving a truck for deliveries. Then one of the reps he had on the road was leaving, so the boss asked me if I’d like to have a go at that, which I did. And I was their representative for quite a few years – I think I was with the company for about nineteen years. And I had a major accident of which left me fairly well scarred, but I was still going.

You were in the truck?

Yeah, in a van at the time. And … in a new van, and the undercarriage … front undercarriage snapped – I was going down a hill and spun round, and of course naturally it’s got no traction, just carried on, over and over and over. And the only way out was the window. I don’t … [you] didn’t have seatbelts in your car … in your vehicle … so I put my hand up to save myself, and of course smashed all my …

So what age would you’ve been at that … approximately?

I don’t … oh no – I wouldn’t know.

Janice: You were in your twenties.

Neil: I’d be in my twenties … yeah, I’d be in my twenties.

Were you married at that stage?

No. We were just courting actually, when I was there, and I was going back to take Janice to a movie, and I never turned up. I woke up about two days later, not remembering. So that’s what you get for being late. Yes. And I carried on with the company of course after that for a while, and recovered.

Then we decided to buy our own business, which was a grocery business in Wanganui. And it was run down, and we got it up successfully … very successfully, I must say. And after being there about three years we thought we’d just try it, and put it on the market and see what happened, you know, because … And I made enquiries and they said, “Well it’s taking about two to three years to sell these businesses at this time. And so I put it on the market with the warehouse where we got our goods from, and that afternoon he rung me and he said, “Look, I’ve got someone interested in your business”, [chuckle] which was quite a shock. And unbeknown to us it was a customer just up the road, so he ended up buying it. So we moved out, and we went: “Where are we going to go?” So we hopped in the car and we went to Tauranga. In those days Tauranga was like Gisborne. And there was nothing there.

So were you married at this stage?

Yes. Yeah, we were married at that stage – I bought the shop, we were married, had two children, Glen was only … the youngest one was about six months …

Janice: Wayne was … no, Glen was nearly twelve months.

Neil: Nearly twelve months when we bought the shop, and Wayne was …

Janice: Three.

Neil: … just three.

So let’s go back a step or two … you’ve got children; you’re married, but you haven’t told me when … how you met Janice.

Well I used to belong to the Pipe Band in Wanganui, and a staunch member of the Pipe Band in Wanganui.

What – do you play?

Yes, I was a drummer. And there were quite a few of us gathered together, one of my mates who was an Indian chap – my best man at the wedding actually – and they had a shop, and we always accumulated there on a Friday night. And on Saturday we’d take off to the pictures – there could be anything up to about fourteen or fifteen of us going to the pictures – we’d book a whole full row, and cause havoc in the picture theatre. But not really … and have a lot of fun. None of us ever ever got into trouble; we used to have a ball, we were well respected, and so that’s how we you know, really had a lot of fun.

And Janice worked in a grocery shop, and I was delivering produce there – I think it was flour and wheat and that sort of thing. Those days, no such things as forklifts or anything like that – everything was on a wheelbarrow or on your back. And so, me … only a little short fella, with a big heart [chuckle] … I used to carry all the stuff on my back – hundred-and-eighty-pound bags of wheat, or two hundred some of them – two-hundred-pound bags; hundred-and-sixty-pound bags of potatoes and those sort of things. So I would carry the stuff in, and of course she sees this big strong fella, [chuckle] and obviously thought, ‘Well what’s he doing?’ You know, ‘who’s he?’ And anyway … unbeknown to me anyway … my mate said, “What’re you doing on Friday night?” “Oh, nothing – why? Why?” “Oh, we’ve got a date for you.” “Pardon?” “Going to set you up a blind date”. And it was Janice. And so we clicked straight away obviously, and we’ve been [together] ever since, and … what is it? Fifty-three years of marriage, I think it is.

Janice: My parents actually came from Te Kuiti in the King Country, but they were born in Wanganui way back in the 1915s and 1914s, and then they shifted up to Te Kuiti after a while, so I actually went to Mapiu School and I went to Te Kuiti High School; and then my parents shifted back to Wanganui so I came back to Wanganui with them. And we lived on a farm in Cameron Road which was in Wanganui and I got a job at Sheppard Super Stores way back in the 1960s, where I worked for about five years, and that’s where I met Neil when he was travelling.

Brothers and sisters?

I’ve got one brother Barry, he’s five years younger than me, and he’s now living in Australia but he came out for Christmas which … was lovely to see him. Neil and I got engaged and married and we’ve had the two boys, so …

One’s Wayne and the other one’s Glen.

And their age would be?

Wayne is fifty and Glen is forty-eight.

And are they local?

No … oh, Wayne is, he lives in Havelock North, and Glen lives in Auckland.

And so you’ve been married for …

1965. Fifty-three years this year.

And do you have any sports you play?

I used to – I used to do softball, gymnastics, tennis, swimming … did a lot of swimming. No, I was a very sporty girl, actually. [Chuckle] This was in my younger days. [Chuckles] I don’t do any sports now, only walking.

You can carry on the story now.

Neil: As I say we went to Tauranga and had a look there; then we went to Gisborne and had a look there and there wasn’t much difference between Gisborne and Tauranga in those days. And then we came down here to Hastings, and I met a chap that we knew in Wanganui – he was a policeman and [he’d] transferred over here. And Flaxmere was just starting to develop, and they said, “Come out and have a look at the very latest village, it’s going to be the best one in New Zealand and …” you know, “so come and have a look at it – it’s started up.” So we came out here to Flaxmere to have a look. We bought a house in Henderson Road and there were a few houses between Henderson Road and Chatham Road, otherwise it was all vacant sections back in those days … back in the 1970s.

And selling the business in Wanganui, they jacked up a job for me in a grocery warehouse in Napier, and when I got there they knew nothing about it. So there was no job for me. So I just hunted round, and I got a job with Stephenson’s Trading Company, and I was with them for [a] few years; I was a rep for them for a few years. And they were closing up, or selling up … getting out because health was an issue. So from there, I think it was … was that when I went to Whakatu? I can’t quite remember. I think from there I went to Whakatu; worked in the office there as a pay clerk and tally clerk, and that sort of stuff. And then they closed up, and I was the last one out of there virtually.

In the meantime … I’m a little confused here, I’m trying to think back. I think from then – I think I went to McCready’s after that. No, it might have been McCready’s before that. I think I left Stephenson’s Trading Company to go to McCready’s … that’s right. And how that came about was that I used to do work for BP Service Station, looking after service stations I think in trouble financially, and pull them out of the quagmire until they could get them on their feet and sell them. And I met somebody [who] said that this job was available at McCready’s – would I be interested. I put me [my] application in to it, and yes, I was successful. And I worked for them, and ended up as one of their managers I suppose … Travel Manager. I used to go down to Palmerston North and check on Palmerston North Branch, and Levin Branch etcetera, and the one in Wellington, right up to Kaitaia. So I was travelling round a fair bit for them as well as running my own business here for them in Hastings – [did] that for a number of years.

And then one of the guys that worked for them, he wanted to take over the Hastings Branch. So he pushed me, and so I bought the little shop around the corner and called it … it was actually ‘Trevor Sweeney’s’, yeah. And then we changed the name to ‘Six to Sixteen’, to get away from what he was doing.

And then I had someone come along and wanted to buy the business, but they didn’t want the business as it was, because the daughter wanted to [set up] a hairdressing salon. So they wanted to get all the gear – they didn’t want anything at all, I had to get rid of all the gear. And so we ended up – I sold it to them.

And from there is when I went to Whakatu, and I was there until it finished. And then after Whakatu … oh, I think I went to the mushroom farm then, didn’t I?

Janice: Mmm, I think so.

Neil: Yeah. Think I went to the mushroom farm then …

Janice: You had a couple of more accidents …

Neil: While I worked at Whakatu I was offered this job … Periodic Detention Warden … and I was with them for ‘bout eight or nine years, I think. And I had a rather nasty accident while working for them back in 1990, and of course that made me an invalid virtually. And I haven’t really worked … Came off a ladder that wasn’t there, and broke my foot, and broke my arm, and … whatever you know? It’s all there …

They just welded it all together?

Welded it all together … staying together with chewing gum, as they said. [Chuckle]

That was lucky.

And I’m only just having a bit of trouble with it now, and I went to the orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital two weeks ago, and he said I’m lucky that I’ve been able to get away with it for this long.

Who was the surgeon those days?

In those days it was Phillips.

Grumpy, grumpy Phillips …

Yeah – they call him Jumbo Phillips.

Yeah, he was a big man too, wasn’t he? But he was quite clever.

He was very clever. Him [he] and I got on very well together actually. One day he said to me I hadn’t been doing my exercises. And of course I jumped at him – I said, “I do my bloody exercises all right mate, don’t you worry about that”, you know? And he thumped his desk as he usually does, and so I got onto my GP and I said, “I’m not going back to him – he’s a so-and-so”. And he said, “Well, leave it to me, I’ll have a talk with him”. So anyway, when I [had to] go back to him the next time he apologised to me. He said, “Well your GP had a talk to me”, and he said “yeah, I do apologise”. He said, “I was out of order.”

So that means then from 1990-odd you haven’t been able to work because of the damage to your ..?

I haven’t been able to work because of … in and out of hospital, and repair work etcetera. [It] went on for …

So when did you work at the mushroom farm then? After Whakatu?

After Whakatu … after Whakatu closed.

What did you do there?

In the laboratory.

Oh, that would’ve been a cushy job?

[Chuckle] It’s very interesting work … very interesting work. Everything has to be absolutely thorough. The laboratory – if something happened here in Hawke’s Bay … had a major earthquake or [?] and the hospital got damaged etcetera, they would take over our laboratory to use as an operating theatre.

I didn’t even realise there was a laboratory there.

Yeah, because it wasn’t actually on the mushroom farm at all, we had it out separate [?] there.

So how did you get the smell get out of the laboratory?

It didn’t get out of the laboratory … no smell in the laboratory. The filters into the room and into the place were … I think we had six or eight filters … and they’re packed around the building. And so all the air that came in was actually pure clean air. And all the lights we used were the black lights, so there was absolutely no disease whatsoever. When we were doing the spawning … doing the culture … we’d be fully covered with gloves and coats and full face masks etcetera, so there’s no danger of anybody getting a cold or the flu through our mushrooms. And you can imagine if one of the staff – there’s only three of us – and one of the staff had a disease of some sort and [it] got into the mushrooms it’d go throughout the community like a dose of salts. So all had to be … made sure that everything was done very, very secure and tight.

So you worked there until …

I had the accident. I was working there when I had the accident down at Central Hawke’s Bay. It was on a weekend down there, you know, so I was working there. And I went back to try and carry on, but I just couldn’t settle. It just … I couldn’t stand too long and those sort of things, you know.

So the accident you had down in Central, what was that?

That was Periodic Detention Warden.

Oh – that was when you came off the roof?


Because you were doing that at the same time as you were doing ..?


Was Lindsay Wilson … he used to live in a caravan up on…?

Oh yeah – up on top? Yeah he was there, yeah.

So then you really couldn’t go back and work in the laboratory because you didn’t feel …

I really tried that, you know, and of course I was susceptible to … Seven operations afterwards.

So how long were you actually in hospital?

I would say over a three-year period I would have spent roughly six to eight months in hospital.

Well the next question is when did you have time to do all of this? I’m looking to [at] a wall of awards … New Zealander of the Year Award …

Well it was completely out of … whatever. And I belonged to the National Service Club way back in those days – still do belong to the National Service Club. Actually I’m a life member of the National Service Club, and the boys used to come and pick me up on the weekend and take me down to the club for drinks etcetera. And if I wanted to go during the week I’d give one of them a ring and they’d come and pick me up. And that was a danger I felt; that could be the danger of nothing to do but sittin’ round drinking. And I could’ve ended up an alcoholic, and that’s the sort of thing that you know, [chuckle] it’s not hard to do. So, [I] thought, ‘well I’ve got to do something …

Janice: He was getting depressed as well.

Neil: … and I was asked about setting up the Flaxmere Working Men’s Club, and so I helped with that and got that up and going. And then they wanted to get Age Concern going out here in Flaxmere, so I got involved with that with Peggy van Asch and Gail Robinson I think it was. And we set up Age Concern Flaxmere back in 1991, ‘92, ‘93 and it’s still going. And I was Chairman of Age Concern Flaxmere up until about five years ago. We ended up buying the building so they’ve got their own home, and I thought, ‘right – I’m out of there … someone else can go and sit in the armchair’, which it was by then. All the hard work had been done and so I just bowed out. And that’s what they call … some people call it retirement. And I’ve been a JP [Justice of the Peace] since 2005 and that keeps me busy, just pure … getting work done, you want anything done etcetera, and so on. So that’s what helps furthermore, to keep me out of mischief.

Janice: That photo up there with Jerry – that was the …

Neil: That was New Zealander of the Year award, that one.

Janice: No, no – with Jerry.

Neil: This one? That’s the Queen’s Service … QSM. Yes, yes – so I’ve just been to the launching of this year’s Pacific Islands award – went on Tuesday night. And … had that since 2001; it’s for all the work I’ve been doing in Flaxmere, and all that is work I’ve done in the community on the whole, you know.

Well that’s wonderful, because I meet a lot of people who never do anything outside their family.

Well it’s only like – even with me, even then, you know – I was with the Kiwanis Club which is very similar to, like a Jaycees Club. I was with them – I ended up as one of the officers there. And I was on the …

Janice: Scouts.

Neil: … Scouts – I set Scouts up here in Flaxmere, way back when the children were going to primary school. [Speaking together]

Janice: What was that one we found [?]?

Neil: Masonic Trust – I was a member of the Masonic Trust until not so long ago. I got my twenty-five years; I was there twenty-five years; I got my twenty-five-year badge. So yeah, I’ve kept myself involved in whatever I can get involved in.

What do you do for a hobby?

I work. [Chuckle]

Obviously you enjoyed all of this association with these organisations?

Exactly. Although I do say it myself, I’m very highly respected in not just the community, in the whole … whatever, you know? Going way back, you know, to Ron Giorgi and … thought I [?] the name … and J J O’Connor and all those people. They all knew me more than I knew them – I think they knew more about me than I do about them, I think. Jeremy Dwyer and Lawrence Yule; now Sandra Hazlehurst – I know them all, and they all speak and all wave out to me when they see me in the street, etcetera.

Sometimes that’s better than getting medals.

That’s pride; it’s recognition. So those are the sort of things, and when I’m doing things like setting organisations up or whatever, I go to the civic people; try and make an appointment with the mayor of the day and have a talk with them and see what … let them know what we’re doing. And there’s a bylaw in the city and they give their support etcetera, and so on. Like, when I was the Kiwanis for instance, I set up a Club in Wanganui, Palmerston North and that, and when you go and sit down with the mayor or mayoress, or deputy mayor or whatever like, and talk with them, and say, “This is what we plan on doing”, etcetera, “and if there’s any assistance or help they can give …” And they’ve always … I’ve never ever been knocked back. You know you’ve got their support, which is very important. You don’t go off half-cocked and try and rule the roost.

So you’re still involved – do you go back to the river city very often?

Janice: Yes. We’ve still got family and that over there.

Neil: I’ve got a sister over there and Janice has got a cousin over there.

I’ve got a friend who grew up … Terry Coxon …

Oh yes, I know Terry.

Janice: Oh yes – he’s actually a relation on the other side … on the Williams’ side. Actually I forgot about him … he comes over here, doesn’t he? ‘Cause he lived over here.


I didn’t realise he’d gone back. That’s from my dad’s side of the family.

Neil: Yeah – we took a group of people [from] Age Concern over and they stayed about three days.

It’s quite a historical place …

The boats used to come right up to the wharf in town, and unload there and back out again, and call in at Castlecliff and they’d unload there – they were the good old days.

That’s right. I suppose its nice and quiet out here in this street?

Janice: Yeah … yeah, our street is wonderful. Oh, we do have the odd …

Neil: Every now and again there’s a flare-up at the shops.

Janice: We’re actually in probably the better area than down the other end.

It was a beautiful suburb, spoilt by the Council and greed.

Neil: That’s right.

Janice: Yep.

And the sad thing was that those people who were living in them were never told that they had to repay their Homestart loans and when it came time to repay them, they couldn’t. It really was an indictment on greed, and the Council lost control of it.

Janice: Just like we did. We lived in Henderson Road when we first shifted over here. We were there for … I don’t know how long, then we came here. But we looked round town, and we actually thought value for money was actually in Flaxmere. And it was.

People don’t tell people about paying money back.

Neil: No, no, no.

It’s not good enough just to pay the interest …

They think that while they’re paying the interest they don’t have to pay the money back.

So anyway – what about the things you haven’t told me?

Gee, must have a lot of those. [Chuckles]

Another thing here – I was Chairman of the Intermediate School when that was going. And I kept … with the family, the boys … I kept up with all the school stuff; tried to get involved in the school as much as possible. And I must say I’m very proud of Flaxmere schools teaching our two boys. But everyone in their class, and everyone at the school had the same opportunities as they had. And Wayne, the eldest boy, he’s [an] engineering consultant. He’s over in …

Janice: Austin.

Neil: … Austin at the moment, and he’s over in America for about two or three weeks, and when he comes back here he’s off to Canada I believe, in a month or something.

Janice: The both of them …

Neil: [Speaking together] And Glen, the youngest one, he went into the Navy, and he went right through to Chief Petty Officer and he retired from there. And they’ve done so well, and if it wasn’t for the grounding and education here in Flaxmere … But you know, I don’t think that … Wayne was very, very bright, and Glen wasn’t quite so bright, but it was because … in all families it’s “oh, you dummy”. [Chuckle] And of course …

Janice: And it’s only two years between them.

Neil: Wayne was a prefect at Hastings Boys’ High School, you know, and he just …

Janice: ‘Cause Wayne was overpowering Glen, I think, a bit at school. [Chuckle]

Neil: And Wayne’s just turned fifty, just a while ago …

They’re both married?

Both married.

Now – who did they marry, and how many grandchildren, and what are their names?

Well Wayne, the eldest one, he married …

Janice: Christiana Stevens in 1994, I think it was.

Neil: … Stevens – yeah, ‘bout 1994. They’ve got two children, two girls … beautiful girls.

Their names?

Janice: Charlotte Louise, and she is seventeen, and Hazel Marie, and she will be thirteen soon. And they go to Rudolph Steiner School. And both of them are doing so well there – it’s unbelievable.

Now your other son?

He’s in Auckland, and he married Nicola Howe, from Tauranga. [Chuckle] ‘Cause he was living in Auckland with the Navy, so [he] met up with Nicola …

Neil: He was Assistant Recruiting Officer in Tauranga, and the Army and Navy were all … [Speaking together]

Janice: She was in the Army.

Neil: And she was in the Army where they … officers were, or something like that. They met up and …

Janice: That’s where they met.

Neil: … and they went from there.

Janice: Then they went to Auckland … ‘cause being in Devonport … and stayed there.  They’re still in Auckland. But Lauren’s just going to university – started university a couple of years ago, [speaking together] and she’s eighteen. And then there was a gap between Lauren and Elliott; Elliott is ten …

Neil: She must be ten, yeah.

Janice: Yeah, ten. And Holly is the [?] And they go to the Catholic school which is just across the road from where they are in Takapuna, so they don’t have to take them to school.

[Speaking together] Oh, that’s lovely.

Yeah. They cross the road – there is patrols … school patrols. Yeah.

Do you watch rugby or cricket?

Neil: Oh, I like to watch sport. Oh yes, I’m very interested in all sport, you know? Well we don’t have Sky – I refuse to buy it. But I’m always interested in sport somewhere, ‘cause you know, when you’re socialising in the Cubs and that sort of stuff, they all talk about the latest rugby rubbish or the results or whatever, you know, and some of them I float a bit. And whatever sport there is, you know, that’s always talked about … “Have you heard about this?” Or “Did you see that?” Blah, blah, blah. So … [speaking together]

Janice: It’s not the same when you stay home.

Neil: You try and keep up with it as much as possible.

And your National Service Club is going to have some big building programmes there?

Yeah … yes. Yeah, they’re building right out on that. That’s going to be a massive cover …

It is. ‘Course they own some land there.

Well, I think I’ve just about got everything, haven’t I?

Janice: There’s probably things we’ve missed.

We can just do an addendum and just tag it on the end.

Neil: If I find my scrapbook, which I will find …

Janice: I can visualise where it is …

Neil: … then you can go through it and see a lot of things. Back in Wanganui the Kindergarten wanted to build a kindergarten. In those days there was no government finance and that sort of stuff. So they came to me and said did I want to help, being a local grocer, sort of help with it. So one of my farmer friends that dealt with us – had a talk with him, and we used his hay barn and we put on a barn dance. And we charged so much to get in the gate – we got enough money that night to freehold the building. Built it, freehold.

And had a lot of fun doing it? [Speaking together]

And we had a ball.

Janice: We actually had some gatecrashers, and they got the message …

Neil: Oh yes, gatecrashers – [speaking together] but the Police were right behind us; we had all the security; everyone donated; the breweries donated all the drinks and [a] couple of farmers donated meat, and we had a barbecue, and everything went off just so well, you know? Usual story, the odd … you always get that … the odd ones are tight. They have difficulty [?] there.

Okay, well I think that probably gives people a picture of you and your family and what you’ve been doing in the last …

Neil: Eighty-odd years. [Chuckle]

Okay, well thank you, both of you.

Janice: Oh, thank you.

Neil’s going to tell me now about the things that he forgot yesterday.

One of the things actually was Centrepoint Retailers – that I was made Chairman of Centrepoint Retailers whilst I was at McCready’s. And that was the days when Centrepoint in Hastings were [was] very busy. We had Westerman’s on the corner; and Harvey’s, I think it was, that did all the crockery and all the catering stuff; Amner Shoes; and McKenzie’s; and Mill’s Shoes, and a clothing shop next door; and Ron Giorgi … Giorgi’s Menswear.

So it went from Market Street to Karamu Road?

Yes, between Market Street and Karamu Road.

And that was before the water feature was built around the …

From memory I think you’re right. They were actually building that at that time. I was just trying to think back, and yeah, I think they were building it at that time. And we used to promote business people in the area. We never missed out anybody, like Bon Marche were in the next block, and you know, they joined in with us and that, you know, so … and even Woolworths were on the corner, and they joined in with us as well, you know. We all worked in as a team, and the promotions we used to have for market days out in the street – everybody’d come down and bring all their ware [wares] out in the street etcetera and so on. And we’d have all sorts of antics … and we’d get out from Disneyland the uniforms of like, say Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy – you know, those characters. And the uniforms came out, and we’d have someone suitable enough to fit them and take them round. And it was real great fun – we’d fill the block; absolutely fill it, especially after school – the children just … And we even took the Disney characters around some of the Rest Homes, and to IHC [Intellectually Handicapped Children’s Association] – they used to have a place up Pakowhai Road those days, and take it up there and … you know, tears in the eyes of the children; even some of the adults in the Rest Homes … it was absolutely, you know … it was gut-wrenching, actually.

And Bruce Giorgi used to arrange that sort of thing for us, and of course they had the menswear shop anyway. And [?Grieves?] had a big archway across the middle of the … archway going across the road, which you’ll see in the photograph of all the members. That archway we built ourselves – we got help mind you. And it was on my front lawn one part of it [chuckle] … painting it. And so it went from there to someone else’s front lawn, and then we gradually got it up and erected.

Later on, I can’t remember how, but the Council – they decided in their wisdom that they wanted it removed, and so it was removed, and whatever happened to it from there, I don’t know. But they were good days – good retail days. Some of those people have now passed on, and a lot of them are still in business. I’m sure that if you – and I’ve always spoken to Graeme Mills anyway, but if you rang Graeme Mills and wanted him to say a few words about it, by all means do so. And Bruce Giorgi as well.

Those were the days when customer loyalty was such that you never went anywhere …

Else. Exactly right. You know, like my eldest son for instance – he always goes to Thomson’s Suits, you know, like … as he said, he needs to be dressed up nicely ‘cause he travels overseas a lot. And to get quality, that’s the only place he knows. You can get quality anywhere, but to get something that’s going to last, ‘cause he goes over to the Middle East so he needs cotton gear, and those are the places that specialise in that

Well I suppose Centrepoint served its purpose, didn’t it?

It did serve its purpose – it served its purpose very well, I believe.

I think from that point on when the water feature was built either side of the railway, they tried to bring all of the main street in together.

That’s right … that’s when things changed. We run [ran] actually from there sometimes on a Saturday when they had a rally on in Hawke’s Bay here, we’d start it from Centrepoint.

Well it became a focal point, didn’t it?

It did. It did, you know. J J O’Connor used to come down on a Saturday morning and get the thing going […]. [Chuckles] Yeah, it was all good fun, and we all worked together, and there was no animosity between any of the retailers whatsoever. It was very, very good … excellent.

It’s not like the parochialism between Napier and Hastings, is it?

No way. That’s sad, that is, because its … and like, business people in Hastings have got businesses in Napier, and business people in Napier have got businesses in Hastings. I can never understand it – how it works.

But it does.

I know it does – been going on for many, many years, you know.

We actually need a four-lane highway between here and Napier now.

Oh yes, because two lanes is not enough … nowhere near enough. Talking about parochialism – it’s very rife between Waipukurau and Waipawa.

It is. [Chuckles]

So yeah, it’s sad when that sort of happens.

Okay – there wasn’t anything else that you thought of?

Not until I find my scrapbook – I’ve got all the photos of everything in it.

So anyway, once again Neil, thank you for completing the interview, and also for your contribution to the business of … and people of Hawke’s Bay.

Yeah – I enjoyed it, and I still associate with a lot of them; and we’re all, you know … all together.

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