AHUROA STORE CLOSING

The following article featured in the Rodney & Waitemata Times, Wednesday, July 21 1976.
The image of the store is a scan of a photocopy so apologies for the quality,
but it does give you some idea what the store looked like.
The original store docket for a loaf of bread was kindly supplied by Noel & Toni Sanderson.
The original article can be viewed at the Warkworth Museum's Archive department.


Death of a Village

Once upon a time - and not so very long ago either - Ahuroa was a thriving rural settlement, proud of its own store and post office, its own railway station, its own hall and its own busy school.  Close by the railway station, there were two railway houses who's occupants, although they changed with the passing years, always played a full part in community activities.


The post office opened on October 21 1902, in a store built by Mr. T H Marks, close by the railway tracks and only a few yards from the station. For a few years postal business was conducted only on three days in the week.  The store was destroyed by fire in 1910 and the post office was moved into Mr. Marks' residence about 100 yards south of the station.  In 1917 the settlers themselves built an office building east of the station. It was complete with counter, telephone booth and even a hitching-rail for customers' horses. The rail is still in position. A telephone bureau was opened in 1920 and about ten years later the building was extended to make provision for a savings bank and telegraph facilities.  From 1948 all post office business was transacted in the general store which stood on the other side of the main road. The old post office building is still in existence and is used as a storeroom by the proprietors of the store.  For almost nine years past these proprietors have been Mr. and Mrs. J D Barry who acquired the business from Mr. Jorn Cheal in October, 1967. At the time there numbered about 40 families among their regular customers.

But one of the two railway houses was moved to Wellsford about eight years ago and the other was purchased by the department, demolished by its new owner and shifted to the city.  It is some years since the last passenger train passed through Ahuroa and goods traffic has fallen away to such an extent that the station buildings themselves are to be demolished.  The loss of the railway is symptomatic of the change that has come over the settlement, where the school struggles to hold its roll numbers.  Further and bigger is better as has been the case with so many rural communities, better roads and improved motor transport have produced drastic changes to Ahuroa.

Mr. and Mrs. Barry now find that their regular customers are drawn from only 27 families.  The others have left the district after selling their farms to young men with no families or they obtain their supplies from the dairy company.  Or, most cruel of all, they drive in their cars to Warkworth, Orewa or the city and buy from the larger stores there.

Stepping through the front door of the country general store is an exercise in nostalgia.  Gumboots hang from the ceiling - they still sell regularly.  The shelves beside the tins of pineapple which form this week's “specials”, there are horseshoes, gate hinges, files, ploughlines, fishhooks and roman sandals. Side by side with the case of apples and the case of oranges there are Christmas cards, gift cards, sheets - and embroidered pillowslips labelled 'His' and 'Hers'.  All are things which the community regarded as essentials only ten years ago.  Now the tin of ballroom powder which would not have remained on the shelf for a week in those days may well stay there for a whole year.  Mr. and Mrs. Barry have decided that enough is enough and will hold a disposal sale commencing next Monday.

Lost Service

The community will lose something more than its general store. The post office itself is at risk unless the department can make new arrangements.  On five days of every week Mrs. Barry sets out on her 15-mile mail-run. But she delivers much more than mail. Bread may be found in her van on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, a metropolitan newspaper on certain specified days, and groceries at any time.  When the railways ceased to transport bread from the city Mr. and Mrs. Barry made arrangements for the city van to deliver in at Woodcocks, four miles away. Mrs. Barry travels to Kaipara Flats or even to Warkworth to collect copies of the city newspaper.
The petrol pump standing outside the store and the detached shed that holds a surprisingly varied supply of oils will no longer afford help to either the passing motorist or those who were once their regular country clients.

Some people call it 'progress' others are not so sure.