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  • Keith Newman

Te Awanga - Dirt roads to development: The evolution of a village (Part 2 of 2)

Access to Te Awanga was by metal road until it was finally sealed in the late 1930s with metal provided from a large quarry near the present day entrance to Cape Kidnappers Farm and golf course. The first tarseal surface went only as far as Vidals (Clearview Winery) with Kuku and Pipi streets and Leyland Rd not sealed until the mid-1950s.

Aerial view of the Te Awanga "Triangle"

A number of Harbour Board lease sections were balloted immediately after WW2 with ex-servicemen in mind. The area attracted growing interest from picnickers and campers arriving in the summer months; often turning up at Burden’s camp in Graham & Gebbies horse drawn coaches.

Gas burners, cookers and lamps and candles were required for those staying a night or more; there was no electricity supply until the early 1940s when it was clear the camp needed to expand beyond its casual facilities and single pit latrine. For many years there were only two street lights in the village, one at the corner of Clifton Rd and Wellwood, and the other near the Clifton Rd end of Kuku St. Gordon Road was the driveway through paddocks to the large Merriwee residence on the hill. One of the local personalities was Jack Lambert, the rabbiter, who would set out most days on his horse with his dogs as part of the local pest control, tracking, shooting and pelting the fast breeding rabbits that were eating vegetation and digging holes in the farmland. He and his family lived at 7 Pipi St.

Maureen Heaps says Te Awanga was a place of freedom and space for young children to roam and enjoy in the 1930s and 40s, particularly the paddocks on the entire southern side of Clifton Road. She says the young people of Te Awanga had the run of the area exploring the river and adjoining farmlands and the terrain from the coastline to the Cape. “We were a large family with little money, and during the war, goods were rationed, but we had a happy secure home life, with caring parents, and we were well provided for.”

The river ran alongside the family home, so swimming, rowing boats and fishing for eels and flounder were regular pastimes. “Sometimes (we caught) herrings, and with cotton fishing lines we caught inunga and eels off the house jetty …If we asked permission and obeyed the rules, the farmers would mostly allow us on their land to pick blackberries and fish for fresh water crayfish further up the Maraetotoara stream.”

Sledging down the hill, in front of the Cape Crest house, on home-built sleds provided amusement, “with a line of blackberry bushes not always avoided at the bottom”.

The old wooden structured Clifton Bridge, downstream from the present one, led directly towards the gates of Summerlee, with tall poplars flanking the roadway between. “We played under and around the bridge, hid when a car approached, then waited for the loud rattle overhead. The rattling bridge could be heard clearly from our home in Kuku Street. To walk the bridge length on the wide top rail was a daring challenge.” In the early 1970s the bridge was being slowly dismantled after a replacement had been constructed but Rod Heaps says the 1974 flood which swept through the area completed the job for them by sweeping it out to sea.

The Haggerty property extended back into the hills with the woolshed and cow bails nearer Clifton Road, now housing ‘The Hideout’, where 90 sows were reared and 110 cows milked daily. A sturdy flat cart on rails carried the cream cans across the front paddock, for collection at the roadside gate. “It was fun riding the empty cart back and forth on the rails. A huge box thorn hedge fronting the property on Clifton Road provided welcome shelter from cold southerlies and rain for children walking home from school.”

Supplies and services Although, the village evolved its own character and some services as a rural coastal settlement, it was still reliant on outside providers. The nearest doctor was in Hastings until one took up residence in Clive in 1953 to serve the wider area.

From 1919 Weathereds Bakery from Clive delivered bread by horse and cart for many years. When McCarthy’s Store opened in Haumoana, Robbie McCarthy, who died in WW2, would do house deliveries offering a selection of bread from a large basket. Weathereds resumed their delivery after the war; unsliced bread on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The sign on the van said: “Let your baker be your grocer”

During the 1930s, A. Findlay, the butcher from Clive, drove out offering cuts of meat on Tuesdays and Fridays. Buyers would wait at their gate with plate and money in hand when they heard his horn sounding as he made his way along Clifton Rd, serving from the back of an old van in his navy and white butcher’s apron. On arrival, he would fold down the back door, reach into the back with a gaff to bring forward the side of lamb or beef and with a large cleaver “hammer down on his chopping board to present chops or other cuts”. She says his purpose-built van was lined with lead to keep the meat cool as this was pre-refrigeration days.

Graham & Gebbies stables in Hastings provided the first public transport with open coaches, mainly for picnickers, followed by Newricks motor buses in 1927-28. Then the bus service to Hastings was operated by Mr Brown Senior and then his son Jim. The ‘bus’ was actually a big car with three rows of seats. It came regularly to Haumoana and only visited Te Awanga on request but proved to be unprofitable. For a time Jack Hawley ran his car from Te Awanga to connect with the bus at Haumoana. The Government took over the service in the late 1930s. NZ Railways Road Services later left at 7.20am from the corner of Pipi St and Clifton Rd, where the tarseal ended, and returned at 6.15pm. The workers bus later added several other runs during the day. The mail was initially delivered near Clifton Station by a horse named Thunderbolt drawing a red gig until 1909. Harry Taylor from Haumoana offered the first Post Office delivery from 1920 followed by Robert McCarthy Snr. As the population increased mail was delivered by a Mr McCosh in his 1928 Pontiac. Rural mailboxes were sited along the roadside around the village; if you had the flag up, mail would also be collected.

Sandwiches and cakes In the early 1940s the Rules family owned the Te Awanga Store on the corner of Pipi and Clifton Rds. Before the end of the war and for a time after, Bill Shaw recalls a tea rooms above the store run by Mrs Rule “with sandwiches and little cakes…it was very smart.” Harry Rule had helped Shaw’s father Basil on the Charlton Rd farm. There were a variety of owners of the main store over time with short-lived competition from Mr Borrowman’s summer canteen in Kuku St and the Rosvall family who also had a small shop in Wellwood Tce not far from the present Te Awanga Hall.

Local families would walk to the end of Kuku St to buy milk from Walter Bye, often waiting for him to finish milking the cow, then return home with the ladled quantity still warm and frothy. At one stage, he used to go around Te Awanga in a little truck with two or three cans containing milk and a couple with cream. “We had a one pint and two pint dippers to measure the milk and cream,” says Maureen Heaps. Later Reg Marten-Smith from Tukituki valley delivered milk with a horse and sled, measuring out of the billy cans with a dipper until Alan McLaren took over with his grey truck and residents who put a billy at the gate would get their requested measure of milk and cream from the cans he carried. Other milk vendors included Peter Begley from Hastings who was superseded by Jack Brian and the last delivered milk to the area was by Frank Price.

Pasturised milk in bottles was introduced but money was stolen so coupons were used and they too were often stolen until home delivery was eventually ditched.

Three digit calling In one of the first new format TAPA newsletters, possibly October 1977, all the directory phone numbers were three digits. Adverts in the newsletter included the Te Awanga Store at 1 Pipi St run by Pat and Maureen McNamara; Ian Hope Motors for ‘A grade mechanical service’ pumping Europa petrol and Castrol oil’ Burdens Motor Camp with ‘Good fishing, safe swimming and children’s playground’; Haumoana Butchery under Larry Lilly was offering meat specials and Schaeffers Motel had a special, first two adults $6 each with additional adults $3 and a holiday minimum charge of $10 per unit per night. The first sub-divisions, a row of “about 30 small fishing cottages” built along the seafront north of the village in the 1950s had mostly become permanent residences by the late 1960s as the village developed west of Clifton Rd including the Gordon Rd subdivision.

In the 1977 newsletter Holt’s Real Estate was offering “desirable Te Awanga home sites” at $5700-$8100 with a $500 discount for cash. These 47 fully serviced sites were part of the Holden subdivision off Gordon Rd, opening up Redwood Place, Cedar Rd and Oregan Rd with a guarantee they were “safe from the sea….all sections are well back from the sea and in a safe non-flooding location” In March 1980 there were 50 sections for sale in Te Awanga. By July ‘83 there were a total of 265 homes in the village with potential for many more. Political boundary changes saw Te Awanga and Haumoana change from being under the Clive Ward of the Hawke’s Bay County Council to become became part of the Hastings District Council in December 1990 as did the Te Awanga Domain Board which was responsible for the lagoon.

A number of fifth generation families still call Te Awanga home, although in recent years there has been an influx of new blood, including those from main centres who have decided to buy, build, rent or develop. In 2017, Te Awanga and the areas bordering Haumoana were in a further phase of development with subdivisions approved for at least another 200 homes in succeeding years.

Sources: Maureen Heaps typewritten notes and interviews Rod Heaps interview Newspaper clipping from the Te Awanga Progressive Association (TAPA) archives Te Awanga our Home, Burden Childhood Days, self published 2009, pp 76-79

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