Iconic building to go

BY RANI TIMOTI
Last updated 05:00 26/03/2009
Photo: RANI TIMOTI
COMMUNITY STORE: Friendly customers make life enjoyable for the Bhagalia family, owners of The Pink Spot Dairy.

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A Slice of Huapai history is licked.

The old Pink Spot Dairy building, famous for its icecreams, milkshakes and lollies, will be demolished soon to make way for a carpark.

But its name lives on in a new and larger building on the same Main Rd site where the Bhagalia family will continue to run it after 16 years.

Built just after World War Two, different nor-west families have operated it since its humble beginnings as the first post office and one of the first stores in Huapai.

Graham Andrew recalls growing up working in the store with his three siblings after his mother Jean and her husband Frank Rumble bought it from original owner Mrs Savage.

They ran it from 1950 to 1965.

"It’s been an icon in the district for quite a while," says Mr Andrew, who lived in Huapai for 50 years and has strong ties to community groups such as the Kumeu Agricultural and Horticultural Society and Huapai-Kumeu Lions.

He says their family developed it into a grocery and milk bar.

"In those days we had great milkshakes with the milk straight from the cow since the farm was across the road."

Mr Andrew says "a government man" used to watch the store to ensure they upheld the law prohibiting trade on Saturdays and Sundays.

"It was quite funny."

The family built a house behind the store but there was no room for a garage so Graham and his brother built a shed as a "school project".

Red tape didn’t allow the front of the store to be refurbished because it was too close to the road.

Getting to know locals was easy with people catching up at the store and romances blossoming.

Graham met his wife Sharon because her father owned the nearby Huapai Hotel.

So did Kumeu resident Dale Wallace (nee Haven) who as a teenager worked in the dairy where her husband Allan asked her out for the first time 43 years ago.

Icecream and lollies were her favourite part of the job.

"It was like a little rural township. We knew everybody," says Mrs Wallace, whose family came from Helensville and who is instrumental in running the annual Rotary Kumeu Christmas parade.

The store was named The Pink Spot by former bubbly owner Colleen Matuschka, now Colleen McKay, who painted the place in that colour.

"There was a red phonebox in front that clashed with my dairy so I painted it and decorated it with pink spotted curtains, a fluffy seat and pink roses. All the tourists would use it."

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That earned her a stand against Telecom and a stint on radio about the phonebox.

"It was neat fun. I also started a cafe in there with pink curtains and tablecloths and white seats. There was a large pink spot on the building with our name on it," says Mrs McKay.

The Bhagalias look forward to seeing their regular customers in the new and improved store.

Brothers Kirit and Dilip Bhagalia and Kirit’s wife Sangita and their three children Dharti, Nikisha and Nikesh say they’ve always felt safe and enjoyed the friendly, helpful attitude of customers since owning the business from 1982.

"We’ve met a lot of older people who said they used to come when they were children to get icecreams, ice blocks and lollies. They say they used to live in the area or work in the shop," says Kirit.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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