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'Big boys' move in

RANI TIMOTI
Last updated 05:00 14/11/2013
New World

MAJOR MOVER: Construction of the large New World Kumeu complex dominates the smaller buildings along Kumeu’s main street.

Akhtar Bhamji
BUSINESS NOUS: Akhtar Bhamji is closing his Kumeu supermarket after 20 years to make way for ‘‘the big boys’’.

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One of the first supermarkets to open in the Kumeu Village and Huapai is closing after 20 years. Kumeu Price Cutter will be replaced by Signature Homes, a sign of the times as more major housing developments take place and larger brands come to town.

Akhtar Bhamji says his family owned business is giving way to the "big boys", despite being one of the only stores still staying open until 8pm.

"There's so much change around here and so many dairies. This place in two year's time will boom and there's potential to start a similar business in another few years." Mr Bhamji owns the Main Rd building where Price Cutter, an organic shop, takeaways and offices space are also located. He bought it in 1994 "when there was nothing around here and no competition".

His family moved from Fiji after a military coup and settled in Kumeu where he saw the empty shop and spotted an opportunity.

"Anyone who came here couldn't survive for two years. I bought the building straight away as I have a business background." Mr Bhamji says he's never regretted coming to the north west.

"I know everyone around here. This is a safe area and we've never had any problems. No hold-ups or burglaries." The 50-year-old Fijian Indian looks forward to a break and maybe even doing volunteer work in the community once the store closes by the end of the month.

Future housing projects in the district include the construction of 2000 new houses in Huapai which will be fast tracked to help cater for Auckland's growing population. Planning consents will be pushed through, cutting years off the normal process in many cases for the 65.1ha Huapai Triangle which is centred around the Constellation Wines owned Nobilo property in Station Rd. Just down the road is Huapai District School which already has an enrolment scheme in place to help manage enrolments and growth.

Principal Kevin Cronin says staff are working with the Ministry of Education and Auckland Council to try to figure out what's best for the community in terms of learning opportunities and their school environment.

"We don't want to lose anything from being a rural friendly community school. Even though we will be getting more children, we are looking at keeping that personal friendly connection and seizing this opportunity to enhance what we currently provide."

Other community representatives are concerned about how the area will cope in terms of infrastructure. Dale Wallace, one of the co-ordinators for this 2013 Kumeu Rotary Christmas Parade, says this year could be the last chance to enter floats.

"We're on a state highway and there's a lot of stuff to go through just to get the permit," she says. "I think there won't be many Christmas parades to go down our street because of the predicted traffic volume."

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- Norwest News

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