Pain & Kershaw – Heart of the Community

On Saturday night we went to a truly swell party – the 60th birthday of David Kershaw, organised by his wife Ineke, who is possibly one of the most beautiful looking woman I have ever seen (and it’s not just skin deep). They’ve been so happily married for – oh I think about 33 years – and they are the unofficial Mayor and Mayoress, Godfather and Godmother, of this town.


Because David and Ineke (now largely superceded by their son Conor) run Pain & Kershaw, the local 4-Square grocery, with a haberdashery/clothing department, and a Mitre 10 hardware plus garden centre. But it’s more than just a business. They look after the community in ways many of us don’t ever see. For a start, they sponsor just about everything going in the town – sports, games, events, uniforms – whatever it is, you can guarantee P&K will put their hands in their pockets.

Secondly, they provide a fabulous service to everyone, especially the oldies. My mother, who moved here in April, has never encountered anything like it in the 87 years of her life. They deliver her groceries for free; they deliver her plants, compost, hardware for free; the super-friendly ladies and young girls on the checkout always have time for a chat. They know her by name, and they look out for her. Gary Jackson, the grocery manager, is also the chief fire officer, and garden/handyman who trims Mum’s hedges and trees (and led the charge to stop her house burning down when she put some fruit on the stove to cook and went out into the garden).

One day when I was waiting at the checkout an elderly, fairly frail, lady was getting her groceries, and she’d obviously carefully calculated the total price as she’d gathered her goods from the shelves. However, upon coming to pay she was about 80c short. She was terribly apologetic, and went to put the goods back, but the young girl on the counter was so cheery and nice. “Don’t worry about it,” she said, “I’ll just get it out of the jar.” And she reached under the counter and took the change from a jar kept there for goodness-knows-what emergencies.

Pain & Kershaw has been operating for 150 years, always in the Kershaw family, and Conor Kershaw, who is taking over from David, is quite the nicest young man in the town. Just like his parents. David Kershaw walks to work past Mum’s place and if she’s out in the garden, he always stops to have a chat with her.

Why am I blogging about this? Because I think it’s terribly important, in these internationally stricken financial times, that we celebrate communities, and the voluntary, unseen glue that holds them together. Not all business is evil; not all businessmen are greedy.

To give you the interesting history of Pain & Kershaw, I have copied the following from their website. So if you’re in Martinborough, be sure to pay them a visit. They have good Martinborough wines (including James Pinot Noir), organic goods, gluten-free goods, a fine deli, and much local produce.

South Wairarapa’s largest departmental store has grown from small beginnings. Originally set up by George Pain, who walked over to the Wairarapa (known as Widrop in those days) from Wellington, at the age of 19. Initialy he hawked his goods around the farming community. In 1872 he was able to set up a small general store on Wharekaka Plain selling mainly farm clothing. When John Martin cut up some of his land for townships, and started Martinborough, Mr Pain bought up what he considered the best sites and set his store up on them. In 1889, he sold the store to John Gallie, only to buy it back several years later. A Mr Haycock was taken on, and the store traded as Pain & Haycock. Shortly afterwards, a Mr Kershaw, who was running the grocery business bought a third share, two years later Mr Pain handed his share over to the two men, as he felt it was “too small for the three of us, and I was doing very well in other ways. I further said that whatever profits had been made in the two years they might divide between them,” wrote Mr Pain. From these generous beginnings was Pain and Kershaw born.


Survival against the odds

P & K has survived fire and huge financial loss (for those times, 1908: 3000 pounds sterling) The business came through the depression of 1929 and the 2 earthquakes of 1942. The latter did so much damage to the ornate concrete facade that the Army was called in to pull down the dangerously unstable masonry. The walls were boarded up and remained so for 6 years. The boarded up building was an eyesore to the town and as finance was available, plans were made to rebuild and enlarge the shop. The project took nine months to complete. More staff were needed to run the large complex. At its peak 26 persons were employed in the business. Over the years Pain & Kershaw have had some wonderfully loyal staff, among then Miss Campbell and Miss Thelma Feist, who spent her whole working life with the firm.


The Deliveries must get through!!

Pain and Kershaw¹s have always taken pride in their delivery service. A staff member used to cycle round the town every morning taking the orders for twice daily deliveries. Horses were a vital part of the P&K customer service.. until motor vehicles gradually took over from 1915. Regular deliveries went all the way out to the coast as well as around town and were an important part of the business. To keep the wheels turning needed 20 horses in 1914, but by 1926 only two were left (Dolly and Tutu). Once the vehicles had completely taken over, the land where the horses had been stabled was gifted to the town and known as Centennial Park today.


More on the church

A few days ago, when writing about the strength of the wind in Martinborough, I mentioned the trouble encountered by those who built St Andrew’s Anglican Church in 1883. It was blown sideways in the middle of a service, so hasty additions had to be made in the form of buttresses down one side. I had a feeling some readers might not have taken me seriously, so I have taken a photo:

Isn’t it a lovely church? It’s very sweet – if freezing cold – inside too, with wood panelling, wooden pews, beautiful stained glass windows and polished brassware. Local ladies do the flowers, which are always glorious. When someone gets married, they put ivy all around the entrance. I haven’t been to church for decades, having been thoroughly put off when at boarding school because we were always praying, and going to church, and Archdeacon Scott at St James’ in Lower Hutt was so dry, with his broad Scots accent we couldn’t understand a word he said. I always remember Sir Walter Nash, a former New Zealand Prime Minister, sitting in front of us with his two sisters, eating boiled lollies and dropping the papers on the floor. I enjoyed the hymns though, and singing in the choir. (A very close friend of mine who died last year from breast cancer used to say, “You should always end the day with a good hymn”, except she didn’t spell it that way. She was outrageous.)

Anyway, when my 87-year-old mother moved to live in Martinborough this year, I told myself it wouldn’t kill me to take her to church each Sunday. She put herself out for me many times when I was young, getting up at the crack of dawn to help me get my pony ready for a gymkhana, or pony club, making lunch for us, sewing beautiful clothes for me which I, little prig I was, turned up my nose at because I wanted bought clothes like the rich kids. So I accompanied Mum to church and, you know what? they actually have a brilliant vicar at St Andrew’s in Martinborough – Archdeacon May Croft. She’s intelligent, down-to-earth, a wife, a mother, trained as a dental nurse, knows real life. Her sermons are brilliant, and, now that Colin comes too, we actually look forward to hearing them – it’s my weekly dose of philosophy – and I do think she helps others try to become better people because of what she says. It makes a lot of sense, and yes, it would make the world a much more peaceful place if more people tried a bit harder to be kinder and less pig-headed, and sulking stupidly. I told her one Sunday, that I feel like applauding after her sermons.

The other thing I learned is that church, for so many people like my mother, is not just a matter of going along to pray and look like a good Christian, it’s about community, looking out for others and including others. Mum’s met so many new friends in such a short time, good people all, and I must say we’ve met some very interesting people too, doing fascinating jobs – one historian who’s writing a biography of a famous explorer, a prison chaplain, Dame Miriam Dell who used to teach me science and history at school (and who is the Aunt of Green MP Sue Bradford), a maths professor, plus various farmers and grapegrowers. 

I even knitted a huge double blanket, out of peggy squares, which was sent off by Operation CoverUp to the poor orphans in the Ukraine, who live in freezing conditions in concrete dormitories. There are also fundraising dinners (for the local school to buy a dyslexia reading recovery kit), and a few Saturdays ago there was the church fair in the town hall which raised over $6000. This is the glue that binds small communities together. It’s heartening, in today’s seemingly more violent and depressing world. It suits us just fine.

Daffodil Day

Up early today, and out towards the south Wairarapa coast to Whangaimoana, the glorious home of Jacquie and Alastair Sutherland. Every year Jacquie throws open her fields of daffodils to be gathered to raise money for the Cancer Society. This Friday, it’s Daffodil Day. You buy a plastic daffodil, or your office may have already ordered fresh daffodils to be delivered. And those fresh daffodils arrive in your office by way of a human chain of volunteering spirit, beginning with people like Jacquie, through her friends who, like me, delighted in each other’s company while we picked buckets and buckets of daffodils, to the volunteers in Carterton who sort the daffs into bunches whence they are couriered, for free, to the big smoke for distribution.

All of us these days know someone who has been touched by cancer. Some of us have had a brush with the big C, many of us have lost dear friends. So I thought of my great friend Lyn Fitness while I picked these beautiful flowers this morning. She died just over a year ago, and I miss her so, so much. She’d have loved to be here with us, laughing as we were surrounded by the precious scent of these cheerful blooms:


Afterwards, it was muffins, coffee and delicious lemon cake in the kitchen of Jacquie’s lovely historic home:


I first encountered this place when, about four years ago, Colin took me away for a mystery weekend for my birthday, in February. We still lived in Wellington then, and it was a marvellous treat to spend the weekend in The Coach House. Jacquie is a marvellously generous host (you get some of her delicious lemon cake) and guests can roam the farm, or walk along the road and down to the beach.(It’s dangerous, don’t swim).

 So if you’re looking for somewhere neat to stay in the Wairarapa, choose Whangaimoana.

And just because this week’s poem seems to be Wordsworth’s Ode, I’ve chosen something different. Partly because I’m feeling blue, as Colin’s in Rotorua for a three-day case, then in Auckland for a two-day case, and also because I miss Lyn.

Flower-Gathering by Robert Frost.

I left you in the morning,
And in the morning glow,
You walked a way beside me
To make me sad to go.
Do you know me in the gloaming,
Gaunt and dusty gray with roaming?
Are you dumb because you know me not,
Or dumb because you know?

All for me? And not a question
For the faded flowers gay
That could take me from beside you
For the ages of a day?
They are yours, and be the measure
Of their worth for you to treasure,
The measure of the little while
That I’ve been long away.

Welcome to the WineBlog of RedbankJames – Why Redbank?

Why indeed, I said to Sean and Bevan when they were pruning the grapes and asked about the name of our vineyard. We haven’t, after all, been fashionable and chosen a Maori name. Did we name it Redbank because of the colour of the massive hill behind the vineyard when the sun is setting, beneath a red sky evening?

None of that. Colin Carruthers’s ancestors, as you won’t be surprised to know, came from Scotland. They were Borderers, those terrible people who snuck across into England and pinched sheep and cattle. His great-great-grandmother (Jane Wilson) was born and brought up on a farm called Redbank, near Colvend, in the southwest corner of Scotland known as Dumfries and Galloway. Last year we visited Scotland, and after driving around the narrow roads of the Solway Coast, found Redbank farm:

Now the Scottish people are lovely, but they’re different, so when we stopped to ask directions from a friendly-looking farmer, he willingly told us how to find Redbank, and cautioned us that the people here are “a bit strange” but “harmless”. We decided therefore to respect their privacy and took this photo from the gate. They do have a wonderful view from the farm though, overlooking the Solway Firth:

Miss Wilson married the son of James Carruthers, Robert (Colin’s great-great-grandfather) from Linnet Hall, a few miles away:

Their eldest son David (whose brother Robert was Colin’s great-grandfather) came out to New Zealand in 1861 and settled at Maungatua on the Taieri Plains, near Dunedin, and built two houses one of which was called Redbank. So when Colin bought this property in Te Muna Rd, Martinborough, for a vineyard, he asked his great-aunt Mary (sister of his grandfather) if he could call it Redbank, and she was so delighted she burst into tears.

Then he called the wine James.