DAD'S GARAGE PART OF EARLY OTAKI HISTORY

July 20, 2013

 

Otaki Historical Journal No 33, 2011

 

One of Bev Stanley’s earliest memories was of the garage her parents bought not long after they moved from Wellington to Otaki in 1938.

 

The garage was in the old stables that were used when stage coaches plied their trade along the coast. Going to and from Wellington, they would come from the beach up Rangiuru Road and rest the horses at the stables, right next to the Telegraph Hotel, where coachmen and passengers could stay the night. Both the hotel and the stable buildings still exist, as does the work of mechanics who now work under the name of Otaki Automotives.

 

Bev was born Beverley Ann Arcus on 4 January 1936 in Wellington, where she lived with her parents, Harry and Joyce Arcus. They moved to Otaki when she was 2. She is the eldest of six children – the others being Carol, Glenys, Peter, Bill and Kathy. Peter died several years ago.

Harry was familiar with the area as he had attended Ohau School north of Otaki, where his father was the principal. They originally lived at Rangiuru Beach, then Kirk Street, from where Bev walked on her first day at Otaki School.


They later moved to 275 Rangiuru Road where Bev and her husband, Ted, still live.

This house – like Harry’s garage – also has a history of its own. It was Otaki’s first state school house, built in 1880. Some of the original windows have hand-made glass panes, the roofing came from Australia and the bathroom fittings were imported from England. The original school, which was towards the back of the section, was burnt down in the 1890s, leaving the school house empty for several years.

 

In 1949 Bev was sent to Chilton Saint James boarding school in Lower Hutt. In 1952 she went to Wellington Teacher’s Training College in Kelburn.


Her first teaching post was at Otaki Primary School where two of her sisters and a brother were pupils.

 

She remembers that due to the family’s proximity to town, every time there was a fire all the kids would wrap up in their eiderdowns and go to watch it.


Other memories of Otaki about this time are of Mrs (Paddy) Royal, a generous and well-liked lady, who owned a sweet and icecream shop plus a catering business. Mr Royal ran a bakery on the premises. The shop was opposite the Civic Theatre just west of the Ritz Milk Bar.

Mrs Royal was well known for driving anyone who needed transportation to Palmerston North Hospital on a Sunday, gratis. Bev recalls her shop later became a furniture store owned by Les Yates, who was a cabinet maker.


The Ritz Milk Bar was owned by Bill Connor, who had taken over from a Mr Smyth and modernised it. Bill’s sister, Avis, worked for him for 15 years. East of the milk bar was Mr Pomfrey’s tiny drapery shop, which stood in a grassy section. Next was George McKinley’s bicycle shop, later taken over by Ben Bell, and then C P Grey’s shoe shop.

Bev remembers that Albanian George Matulich owned the fish and chip shop in the same block. You could buy 6d worth and ask for scraps as well! She also remembers his potato-peeling machine.

 

Right on the corner was Hing’s greengrocery shop where, at certain times of the year, you could buy a penny’s worth of spotted fruit. She also remembers a big cannon in Memorial Park next to the Civic Theatre and recalls how she and her siblings loved to climb all over it. It’s believed the cannon was taken away for its scrap metal.

 

On VE Day there was a parade from the primary school to Memorial Park followed by a victory ball in the Railway Hall. On VE night locals gathered opposite the Civic Theatre and made their own fun.

As Bev reminisced about the township she recalled the windows in Mrs Dowsett’s shop – it was a lovely place to play on the way home from school. To get into the shop you had to pass three stand-alone ground-to-ceiling window boxes, and then the doorway was flanked by two dressed windows. Mrs Dowsett also sold shoes at the back.

 

There was a popular dance venue at Paraparaumu Beach called the Blue Moon, and it was here that Bev met Ted Stanley in 1955. They were married at All Saints Anglican Church, Otaki, in 1957 and the reception was in the Mayfair Ballroom, which was once a Maori College schoolroom adjacent to Rangiatea Manse. Mrs Royal did the catering.

 

Bev and Ted’s eldest three children were born in the Otaki Maternity Home. In 1962 Ted began working in the bank, and in this capacity was transferred to Palmerston North where daughter Carolyn was born.

 

At this time Bev was employed as supervisor of the playcentre in Otaki and she assumed the same role at the Palmerston North branch. Ted then began another job working for the Ministry of Works. He was promoted to a position at Wairakei Geothermal, so in 1971 they moved to Taupo. Ted then went to work in Turangi, commuting from Taupo daily, while Bev taught at Taupo Primary School for nearly 20 years.

 

Bev and Ted went for a holiday in Australia in 1980, and not long after they got back Bev’s father died in Palmerston North Hospital. Bev’s mother died five years later. Bev and Ted returned to Otaki in 1986 and Bev got a job teaching new entrants at Waitohu School. When she retired she’d hardly been home two weeks when she got a phone call from Te Horo School asking if she could help out there, which she did and loved.

 

Bev remembers some funny little incidents while teaching her young charges. One little boy wanted to know how to spell sex, which she wrote in his book before realising he really wanted to know how to spell insects! Another time a Salvation Army major arrived to teach religious instruction and brought a man who lived in the Pacific Islands with him. He had asked him to dress in his native dress so he arrived all dressed in white and the children thought he was God.

 

Bev now tutors at the Otaki Skills Sharing Centre, works at the Citizens Advice Bureau and attends the Otaki Women’s Community Club.

 

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Otaki Historical Society, P O Box 50, Otaki 5512