Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 10, October 1968

By CONNIE BERNARD (nee Searle)

There were no Supermarkets then! Life during the early years of the century might have been lived in a different world. Just as it comes as a shock to find, after a long absence, that Karangahake now presents an utterly different picture, so we suddenly realise that the old way of living - anywhere - has gone for ever. The business of a woman catering for her family will serve to illustrate this. My mother, in the days before "mod. cons", did not sally forth with a basket to buy her provisions. They were delivered to her door by numerous vendors.

Early in the morning, having milked 20 odd cows by hand Bill Marsh and his helper Monty Neil were on their rounds. In the milk cart, each had a can with a ½ pint ladle hanging inside it and with this filled the family jugs. Bread came in a high closed in cart. The man I remember best was Mr. McLeod, loved by all children. What a treat it was for small boys to travel with him on Saturdays delivering bread up and down the steep hills! And how they jealously guarded the small loaf that was their reward, and from which they tore out great pieces! The meat was brought by a boy on a horse who stood at the gate and called out "Butcher!" Groceries too were delivered by cart or on horseback, and how we gloated over the bag of sweets that came as discount.

Jimmie, the Chinese greengrocer, came once a week with his cartload of vegetables grown near Paeroa, and at Christmas time presented his customers with a cherished jar of preserved ginger. My mother kept her jars all her life for various kitchen commodities. From Waihi we had a weekly visit from a pork butcher, his basket filled with sausages, polonies, pies, etc. Also from Waihi came a fishmonger and I remember when we moved to Auckland my parents lamented that they never were able to get fish so excellent.

Another colourful vendor was the rabbit-man, with pictures painted on the panels of his cart, and with rabbits for 6d a piece. At times Maori women came with kits of Kumera for which we gave them clothes. Thus the housewives of those days who managed only rare visits to the shops found a slice of the outer world at their gate or door, every caller purveying with his goods some small news item, or a message from a friend.