Thursday, April 18, 2024

Spiller legacy big part of Howick

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A photo from 1992 when the store marked its 50th. Pictured are, from left, Bill Barlow, Moira Spiller, John Spiller, Clive Yeoman, Paul Spiller and Ross Spiller.

As part of the Howick 175 events and celebrations, we have asked Howick/Pakuranga residents to share some of their memories. Today we hear from long-time businessman Paul Spiller

My grandparents bought the Howick General Store in 1942 after moving up from Ohakune where my grandfather ran a similar small businesses in Pokako, National Park, Ohakune and Raetihi in partnership with his sister-in-law’s husband.

The story that I have been told was that there was a major flood in Ohakune in 1942 and this prompted the family move.

My grandfather (on my Father’s side) emigrated to New Zealand in 1910 from Newquay, Cornwall. [My Mum’s ancestry goes back further – five generations to the 1860s].

In 1952 my Dad purchased what was the Hammer Hardware site and built the original hardware store, the same year that he got married. It opened during Labour weekend 1952.

I have many memories of the old store from the 1960s when I used to help out after school. My grandfather Ossie Spiller worked in the shop until age 87!

They continued to run the General Store, where Paper Plus is now, for about another five years I believe. My grandfather used to go out on horseback to local farms to get orders and my Dad worked in it from about age 15 but later in his early twenties became one of only two real estate agents operating in the area.

The population was probably no more than 1000 people. I still have the original log book of all his early sales, prices that houses sold for and the commissions that he made. This gave him a head start to life.

He and my Mum were both incredibly hard workers and later my Mum and Nan opened up Avenrose Florists in the Rosscourt Shops.

The name derived from my Mum’s maiden name McAven. Her Dad, Stan McAven used to work as a radio operator at Musick Point during the 2nd World War.

Later my Mum opened a gift shop next to where the original hardware shop was (there were four shops with Des Coutts running a butcher’s shop there for many years).

I will also send you a couple of photos in the Council archives which were taken during the 100 year celebrations of Howick in 1947 showing the Spillers Store in the background. This was a big event with nearly all of the local population involved.

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