Right down near the end of Riversdale Road is an extraordinary place run by some remarkable people.
This hidden gem is a testament to the Ryder family and some determined collecting by the late Jack Ryder. So, what do a cannon off the Bounty, a staircase from Sir George Grey’s house and the singlet that Peter Snell wore when winning his gold medal in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo all have in common? Well, nothing really except that Jack collected them and brought them home to Avondale.
In recent years JC Ryders (formerly Westwind Cinema) has been better known as a boutique private cinema and dining venue for groups, but that is not how it all began.
Old Auckland pubs were being demolished decades ago and some of the beautiful features were just being dumped or burned. Jack saved windows, bars, beer pumps and even the entire front of Kelvin House Pub in Hobson St. The Avondale Hotel was the most prominent local building that he was involved with, scoring some interior doors and the 1860 Welsh slate floor. He re-laid the slate in his first building project.
His collecting earned him the nickname “Junkie Jack”.
Jack’s vision was to create a village modelled on old Auckland, so that people could see what the city was like back in the day. He wanted his village to have the feel of old Auckland more than total authenticity, so the buildings are a mash up of materials from different pubs.
Part of one building even includes the wheelhouse of HMNZS Kiwi. The Kiwi was a minesweeper in WWII and had the distinction of repeatedly ramming the much larger Japanese submarine I1 at Guadalcanal, until the sub’s crew ran it aground. The attack was a heroic action under continuous light arms fire. The 140mm gun from the submarine is on display at the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum in Devonport. The radio mast from the Kiwi is also at Ryders, along with a wheelhouse off the old double ended Waitemata vehicular ferry, EagleHawk. There is even a pump from the Edwin Fox in Picton.
There are limits to what one man can achieve but Jack gave it a pretty good go, setting up a garage, fire station, railway station and two pubs. His wife Margaret once commented, “It’s an interesting hobby, and he doesn’t drink or smoke”.
As a coachbuilder, he also loved vehicles and transport in general. Then for good measure, one day he decided to go into sports memorabilia as something different because so many people at the time were getting into antiques. His mother had trained Jack to know and appreciate antiques. A relative, another (John) Jack Ryder 1889 - 1977, had been an Australian cricketer, so maybe there was something in the family. The more recent NZ cricketer Jesse Ryder is not a relative.
The coachbuilding trade was in decline, so Jack started working on the Auckland wharves and stayed there for 35 years. His spare time was spent collecting artifacts and developing his village. He also worked alongside some sportsmen, as it was before the professional era. He seemed to get on with everyone and became well-liked by many prominent sportsmen of the day, who happily gave him autographed sports gear and uniforms, in addition to the items that he purchased.
He covered many sports. Several racing drivers and speedway riders were represented including Stirling Moss, Ivan Mauger and Ole Olsen. The cricket collection was really extensive with signed bats, gloves, uniforms, and caps. Cricket memorabilia came from sportsmen like Geoffrey Boycott, Colin Cowdrey, Mark Taylor, Sir Donald Bradman and Mark Waugh. Jack also prolifically collected rugby, league, and boxing items.
There was some ill feeling by the sports codes that gave Jack access to the players when he tried to auction off the collection in 1987. Fortunately, Jack had set unrealistically high reserves, and nothing sold. In the years since, many of the less important items have been sold to maintain and develop the museum.
The Ryder family had moved to the property in 1943 after their land was bought by the government for the then US Naval Mobile Hospital 6, which later became Avondale College. It had previously been an orchard owned by Major Rastrick. This part of Avondale had an extensive horticultural history and a huge protected pecan tree still stands in the middle of the village.
In recent decades visitors would be more familiar with the lunch/dinner and movie experience in the 60-seat private cinema. The cinema was built in 1975 by Jack and Margaret’s son John, who still runs the projection room, and they started the catering side in 1985. Clint Ryder is the face of the catering operation and the famous roast meals that are cooked on wood fired ranges. This takes huge commitment, with a 4am start to cook a lunch. The roast cooks until 10am, then Clint lets it rest for an hour before cooking it some more then carving for the guests.
They cater for groups from 25 – 60 people, so if you want to experience it gather 24 of your close friends and book your date. You get to choose the movie.
Some of the great feedback includes:
“This place is a suburban treasure hidden away in the back streets of Avondale... great little movie house and an amazing collection of artefacts from my childhood and early New Zealand - well worth a visit.” – Glen
“This is such a unique place to come to for dinner and a movie. The theatre is intimate and comfortable and the setting with the historic collection of old New Zealand items is great to wander around.” – Annette
Car Clubs and seniors’ groups are the primary customers. Indeed, I first went to Ryders for a mid-winter dinner and movie with my group from the NZ Military Vehicle Club. It was such a great evening that we have been back annually for the last five years. The dining room is toasty warm from the wood stove. Even the windows are historic from the Market Hotel. They still have the gold leaf sign writing on them advertising products like “Waitemata Draught Beer from Dominion Breweries 100% hygienic system”. It’s a unique venue which makes people really comfortable socialising together.
In our changing world and with COVID19 affecting businesses, we cannot take places like this for granted, so enjoy the hospitality while you can!
At age 87, Peter Campbell is possibly the world’s most experienced toothbrush manufacturer.
And from a commanding, scenic position in the Waitakeres, surrounded by beautiful native bush, Peter operates what is likely the only cottage industry in the world that manufactures toothbrushes.
“It’s a bit noisy,” he says, “So I can’t have neighbours too close”.
A toolmaking engineer by trade, Peter easily operated his business by himself for decades, but for the past fourteen years he has maintained two employees – one making and one packaging.
Born and bred in New Zealand to British parents, Peter had his first OE at six weeks old when his parents returned to the UK. They stayed for five years, returning to New Zealand in 1938 when it became obvious a war was brewing.
Peter began his apprenticeship in 1950 at the age of 17. As a young man he worked for National Brush in Penrose, making plastic moulds - eventually becoming manager in 1964. National Brush, which employed around a hundred people, was the parent company of Consolidated Plastic Industries (CPI), which made numerous products from toothbrushes to carpet sweepers, employing around 600.
Peter became frustrated with the directors who would not consider using a better-quality nylon filament – DuPont Tynex© 612 - for their toothbrushes, preferring the 610 filament. The 612 nylon is said to combine “excellent resilience and elasticity with high wet strength”, which are considered ideal properties for the bristles of toothbrushes. Nylon absorbs water, and the degree of this determines its effectiveness and resilience; the 612 nylon absorbs less water making it superior to the 610.
in 1970 after eight years as manager, Peter resigned and went to Europe to look around the industry and consider his options, with the intention of manufacturing toothbrushes himself. In England he purchased an Evans manufacturing plant, which after decades of use, continues to pump out toothbrushes with impressive reliability. While Evans is now defunct, Peter uses a local toolmaker for spare parts when necessary.
Since his early days as manager at National Brush, Peter has travelled every four years to Freiburg, Germany to attend Interbrush Expo, the international trade fair for the broom, brush, paint roller and mop Industry. Traditionally toothbrushes were made by the brush making industry. This began to change in the seventies when Johnson & Johnson produced the Reach toothbrush, paving the way for other oral health multinationals to quickly follow suit with their own plants.
Peter’s toothbrushes, under the brand Luxident, have been stocked exclusively in pharmacies and dental surgeries since 1975. He wasn’t interested in competing in supermarkets with the multinational manufacturers like Colgate, content with his niche local market.
In September 1989 Peter was at a dental conference in Christchurch when he was approached by a Japanese business representative who requested his details. He thought nothing more of it until he got a call a short time later from one of his wholesalers to ask if he was still in business. The Japanese businessman had been trying unsuccessfully to contact him and in desperation had contacted the wholesaler. Initially Peter thought someone was pulling his leg, but by December he had his first order from Japan for 10,000 denture brushes – his signature product. The orders from Japan have continued to come, averaging around 40,000 per year.
“It was the easiest sale I ever had,” reminisces Peter, who used to travel the whole of New Zealand selling his toothbrushes. In those days most pharmacies stocked the Luxident range, with personalised versions being very popular with dentists as promotional items.
Peter continues to produce toothbrushes and is content at his stage in life with things as they are.
“I don’t get around the country these days, and most of the pharmacists and dentists who were my customers have retired now, or passed on, and the new ones haven’t heard of me.” he says.
However, he still supplies five wholesalers in New Zealand, Australia and Japan, and that gives him plenty to keep him occupied.
After an absence of several months, Lotto is once again available in Blockhouse Bay. NZ Post Shop owners Prakash and Jaini Patel have successfully negotiated for the franchise, and it is now part of their stable of services available.
The Patels have lived in the Bay with their two children since 2009; their son now studies at Auckland University, and their daughter is in her first year at Avondale College.
Since purchasing the Blockhouse Bay Post Shop in 2016, Prakash and Jaini have steadily increased the services they provide in-store. Along with postal services, international parcels, car registrations and NZTA transactions, the business also offers photo developing, passport photos, key cutting, and a Western Union agency, as well as stationery and greeting cards. They are also now a dry-cleaning agent.
With the arrival of Lotto, the shop now has new opening hours:
Monday 9am – 5pm
Tuesday 9am – 5pm
Wednesday 8.30am – 5.30pm; Lotto till 7.30pm
Thursday 9am – 5pm
Friday 9am – 5pm
Saturday 9am – 5pm; Lotto till 7.30pm
The Patels are very happy to be able to offer Lotto to the community once more, and with the added bonus that customers can also choose their own lucky numbers.
Canal Road trees update
The remaining Canal Road trees are still standing – for now. In the month since our August article about the trees, the site status has not changed and there has been no further felling. The day after protestors disrupted work on 10th July a WorkSafe prohibition order was issued, and then the COVID-19 Level 3 restrictions brought a further reprieve.
Unfortunately, there has not been any visible progress with Auckland Council either.
Last month Mayor Phil Goff said “There are groups of trees all like this all over the city that we have no protection for. I deplore the fact that these trees are coming down. They are beautiful trees. I love trees like that.” But being loved by the mayor is not enough to save a tree, apparently.
Protesters are continuing to search for a viable option that could save the trees and not disadvantage the landowners.
Meanwhile, a petition to save the trees on Change.org has logged over 6,300 signatures. Search “Canal Road Trees - SAVE THEM” if you want to add your name.
Getting out in nature in one of our many beautiful parks and trails is a lot of fun, and it’s great for our mental health.
While you’re out, why not take part in the 2020 Te Whau Biodiversity Survey? It’s easy to do while walking in the local reserve or from your own backyard. All you need to do is take photos of weed and/or native plants.
You’ll need to download the iNaturalist app on your phone, then you can instantly upload the image and its GPS location at the push of a button. Each photo becomes data that is used to establish where weeds and native plants are located within the Whau River catchment.
It is a fun way to learn more about nature and find out what wildlife lives in your neighbourhood. Why not form a family group and involve the children?
You can follow progress in more detail on the Whau River Catchment Trust’s Facebook Page or visit the project on the iNaturalists website.
The WRCT runs regular workshops at the Blockhouse Bay Recreational Reserve where you can learn more about the survey. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
There are several projects and organisations around the town centre that have been impacted by the Auckland Council Emergency Budget.
Multipurpose Community Centre and Library
In a report to the community the day before the current COVID19 crisis, the multi-purpose community centre, library, and associated town square have had a short delay due to the first lockdown but are still basically on track. Panuku was getting design partners on board and plans to work on design with community input early in 2021. Continued progress on this key project is a huge relief, given all the budget cuts.
Former 3 Guys site
Council is trying to progress the development of the old 3 Guys site. There are discussions with other landowners including Kainga Ora and private developers. With several developments in the pipeline, Panuku are keen to get the mix of housing types right for the area. In the meantime, there is still room for activations using the vacant site.
Crayford Street West
Planning for the renewal and streetscaping of this area has been progressing slowly though the hoops of getting everything ticked off. It has now been deferred for at least twelve months due to budget constraints.
Fixing the slippery bricks
After years of delay, there was agreement to proceed earlier this year. Then in August came the heart-stopping announcement that due to budget cuts, footpath replacement was being deferred. After an outcry, Auckland Transport (AT) and Whau Local Board (WLB) recently met to find a way forward and permanently fix this health and safety issue. As we went to print there were indications that a resolution was imminent, but the announcement was coming after the Beacon deadline.
So how did we get to this point? A couple of years ago, the nearby Blockhouse Bay village footpaths were deemed to have an inadequate friction coefficient and seemingly overnight the contractors appeared. Two weeks later all the asphalt and brick paving had been replaced with exposed aggregate concrete. The surface is not pretty but it is very safe. Meanwhile it seemed that every time it rained people were being hurt on the Avondale pavers. Many people, especially seniors, refused to go into the shopping centre on wet days.
This saga has dragged on for years, and finally in 2019 the WLB found a way forward in partnership with AT. This was enabled by a proposal to use the Whau Transport Capital Fund to make up the shortfall. WLB members Susan Zhu and Catherine Farmer voted against this proposal as they wanted the project to be fully funded by AT.
At the 4 December 2019 WLB meeting there was a presentation by Michelle Burstall requesting WLB to expedite fixing the slippery bricks. Michelle is one of many who have fallen on the pavers and she still suffers from breaking her tailbone in the accident five years ago. Many WLB members were new on the job after the election. They voted to delay a decision for two months to get a better understanding of the project. Then COVID19 struck. The $57m transport fund that is shared across the 21 Local Boards got cut to $5m in the emergency budget, effectively removing WLB’s contribution.
Many were wondering about the impact of COVID-19 on the funding for this project. After initially staying silent, AT indicated in August that the Avondale project would be deferred indefinitely. This sent shockwaves through the community and brought out new determination to find a way to protect people from the hazardous footpaths. As we went to print, WLB was saying that progress had been made and an announcement was likely.
Comments from the public
Joan: Have had many slips and falls on these bricks. Once I was walking along on the curb stones so I would not be on the bricks and I tripped and fell hitting my jaw as I went down. Ended up shearing the enamel of the front of four teeth and compacting 6 others.
Karen: Yep. I slipped and fell over twice while walking on [those] slippery bricks.
Kristina: Before my 15-year-old son was born I still remember falling over and tipping the pram when walking to the bus stop. He was 3 months then. Lucky he was a little football rolled up in blankets
Kanchan: I also slipped on the very same tiles you mentioned though I was walking very cautiously on them. It was raining and I slipped and hurt myself. I have had two knee replacements and was worried I would have some serious problems. This happened February 2020. They really should do something about it. It isn't worth causing so much pain.
In the midst of an enduring water crisis, Awa Stories is an invitation to ten local residents to share their memories and hopes for wai/vai/water and our local awa - te Whau.
A drop of rain, fresh-water fish, a full-moon swim. What is your first memory of water? Where is ‘your’ river? Can you taste, smell, hear it still, after all these years?
It was launched in March this year with a photo exhibition along Great North Road in the middle of Avondale town centre. These portraits introduce each person and their awa story, with text in te reo Māori.
Part two of Awa Stories is a series of short video interviews with the subjects from their home and on te Whau itself. Conceived as part of the annual environmental festival EcoFest West, the Awa Stories team have achieved something very permanent: a record of a range of locals’ personal connection to their awa, in a modern take on oral history traditions.
Last month the Whau Pasifika Komiti hosted an Awa Stories celebration at Avondale Library to showcase the rich and diverse stories within our community and to thank everyone involved. The message was clear from everyone, "if you respect yourselves and each other, you respect the land and our environment". The project was then formally received into the Kura Heritage Collection by Sue Berman, Auckland Libraries Oral Histories Lead.
The team has done a brilliant job in taking a vision for Awa Stories and putting in the hard work to see it to completion. John Rata’s video work was central to the project and deserves a special mention.
Find out more here: https://www.ecomatters.org.nz/event/awa-stories/
Awa Stories was produced by Ina Patisolo as part of EcoFest West's 'Arts on Climate Change', in collaboration with EcoMatters, I Love Avondale, John Rata, Cathy Livermore and Te Kawerau a Maki, with support from Whau Local Board, Panuku Development Auckland and Healthy Waters.
An innovative new platform is launching a call to arms to all Whau community space providers to join them in their quest to make it easy for people to find and book spaces in their neighbourhood.
Elle Bell, New Zealand founder of SpacetoCo.com had the brainwave when she was looking to start up a crochet group and got tired of having to do heaps of research and phone each space separately to compare costs and availability.
Struck by the thought of how easy companies like AirBNB make it to book local spaces, she had the idea of an online marketplace where any community space could list for free and help people in their neighbourhoods find and book them.
“I knew from my own experience that community initiatives that could be building connections locally are not getting off the ground because people can’t find or can’t face the process of booking the space they need”, says Elle. “I also know that there are thousands of amazing local spaces that could be used more, but don’t have the budget or resources to market themselves or create fancy booking websites.”
SpacetoCo.com hopes to solve two problems. They provide an easy way for people to find and book what they need to get their group or idea started. But it’s also really powerful software that can provide bookings and payments automation to small community spaces at a really affordable price.
Elle hopes this will give back hours of staff and volunteer time that’s currently spent on bookings admin that could go towards growing community activation and programming.
SpacetoCo have proven their idea by increasing bookings at pilot community spaces and now are looking to speak to any business, trust, community centre, church, marae or charity with space they would like to increase bookings for – or decrease time spent managing it. Register your interest with email@example.com.
Stream water testing is essential at this time of the year - especially after a heavy rainfall. The stream ecosystems are often seriously affected by stormwater runoff that washes pollutants, nutrients, and sediments into our streams.
Unfortunately, most storm water systems are not designed to handle large amounts of water flowing off imperious surfaces within built up urban areas, which can cause serious problems for stream ecosystems and our health.
The Whau River Catchment Trust frequently get calls from worried people who are concerned about a stream that runs through their property or their local reserve. These concerns often occur after a heavy rainfall, as some of the streams have turned a different colour. Some report that an eel that they saw a year ago has not come back this year. Others describe something in the water they think shouldn’t be there.
The first question they consider is “What is happening up stream?” Is litter being dumped? Are there pollutants? It can be difficult to track down the source, especially in an urban area; even washing a car on the side of the road can be a cause.
Water flows across land before running into the streams, collecting any substances - good or bad - as it moves along its course. Surface water runs into the drains, which flow into streams, then into the river and eventually out to sea.
The Whau River Catchment Trust tests the streams within the Whau Catchment, and the data collected is sent directly to Wai Care who then assess the data and act accordingly.
If you would like to assist with testing stream water health, come along to one of their regular stream testing days. Or if you are concerned about a stream’s health please contact Justine by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 021-627-864 or the ‘pollution hotline’ 09 377 3107
Honouring diversity and building strong community
Not a lot used to go on in New Windsor, but that has changed dramatically since July 2019 when Shalema Wanden–Hannay, (working for Community Waitakere and funded by the Whau Local Board), arrived to start a community hub.
A robust steering committee now oversees an organic collection of activities and ethnic groups, and community consultations have provided a better understanding of how people feel about their area and their aspirations for it. Some events, like the recent Matariki celebration held at New Windsor Primary, have really brought the community together.
New Windsor’s inaugural Matariki event in July with a traditional hangi, market stalls, kite flying competition and kapa haka performances drew a large crowd and was a milestone event. To build on a strong community connection though, it is important that decision-making is community led. Working with people from so many different backgrounds takes a lot of time to achieve real engagement and ownership. This involvement is necessary to build a strong local identity.
It is hard to remember any community events in the suburb over the years. Lacking a central focus like a main street, and intersected by an expanded arterial route, New Windsor has been described as the left-over bits from its bigger neighbouring suburbs. The population in 2018 was 7,758 and there were 2,253 dwellings. In 2013, 52% of people in New Windsor were born overseas, compared with 39.1 percent for Auckland as a whole, with 10.1% speaking Hindi. The suburb continues to attract many new migrants.
The New Windsor Hub like many others has been established in the former school dental clinic, thanks to the generosity of New Windsor Primary. This is a great location as the school is the de facto heart of the community. Two days a week the Hub volunteers operate a breakfast club in the school and emergency food parcels are available. Other activities like Mainly Music and an opportunity to practice English are on offer.
Principal Lisa Harland says the Hub is a vital part of grassroots community development. “I can see that it provides a place for our local community to gather and to access services and activities that enrich their lives”, she says. “Shalema and her team are inclusive and inviting to all, and are always interested in new and exciting initiatives they can get involved with”.
It is really exciting that the Hub is now becoming a platform to build community in a way that respects and embraces the diverse community of New Windsor.
For community-minded folk such as the Blockhouse Bay-Lynfield Lions Club, the long weeks of lockdown earlier this year were particularly frustrating. Not only was it hard not to be out helping and mixing with people, but they also had to get highly creative with their fundraising efforts which support youth, health, and other projects.
In lieu of their regular Blockhouse Bay village market day sausage sizzle/book sale they created a ‘virtual sausage sizzle’, and an online gallery for children to display their art created during lockdown. Surprisingly, this attracted entries from as far away as Sri Lanka.
The club received three new member applications while in lockdown, who then had the novelty of being inducted in the first-ever Lions Worldwide New Member Induction Day conducted by International President Jung-Yui Choi, online via the Zoom platform.
And now with the second Covid-19 lock down interfering with many planned activities, including a "Welcoming Spring" dinner, the Daffodil Day Collection and the Blockhouse Bay Market Day Sausage Sizzle, it’s déjà vu for President Janelle and the Blockhouse Bay-Lions Club.
“So, once again we will revert to virtual solutions to continue our community service such as the Virtual Sausage Sizzle and the Covid Art Exhibition”, Janelle says. “Both of these can be found on our website www.bhbl-lions.org, and we encourage the public to support our unorthodox fundraising efforts, which go towards very worthy causes”.
Necessity provided BHB-Lynfield Lions with an opportunity for innovation, and along the way they discovered some modern solutions that are now proving very handy.
Support from the community was in full force at the Green Bay Community House Neighbours Day working bee held last month - originally scheduled for April but postponed due to lock down.
Around 30 adults and 20 children turned up to help out with the gardening projects scheduled for the day. GBCH manager Sara was blown away with the turn out, and the attendees themselves mentioned the large numbers, which really helped to spread the workload.
“We were lucky enough to receive Neighbours Day funding from the Whau Local Board, which we used to supply our wonderful helpers with morning tea and lunch on the day”, said Sara. “The treats were well received and gave the crew much needed energy to continue smashing through the jobs”.
Many of the workers commented on how wonderful it was to see such great community spirit. No doubt they left the event with full hearts and full bellies thanks to Neighbours Day!
The congregation at Church of the Saviour, Blockhouse Bay, recently gathered to welcome their new vicar, the Reverend Shashi Christian, who has served as interim vicar for the past eleven months.
If enthusiasm is anything to go by, Reverend Shashi has obviously had a positive impact on the COTS flock since his arrival; when asked by Bishop Ross Bay, “Are you, the people of Blockhouse Bay, happy to receive and accept Shashi as your new Vicar?” the congregation replied with a resounding affirmative roar, “We are!”
After the induction service, the welcoming celebrations were concluded in typical Kiwi fashion with a huge spread - which was enhanced by an astonishing array of cultural delicacies - and enjoyed by 150 or so congregation and guests from across Auckland and Waikato.
Shashi and family are New Zealanders, who arrived in Auckland in August 2001. They have been with the Anglican church in New Zealand since 2002, having served in the church and mission services since 1987, both in India and New Zealand and around the world.
A keen traveller, Shashi loves to explore new places. He originates from the Indian state of Gujarat and has a wealth of experience working cross culturally with people from places such as Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Goa, Telangana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal, as well as visiting and ministering around the world in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Nepal, South Africa, France, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, USA, UK, Israel and Australia.
As a teacher, Shashi brings unique perspectives from varied cultural and faith backgrounds; his family roots were in Hinduism, his schooling was influenced by the writings of Gandhi, and he has worked with people from many different faiths. Unsurprisingly, he particularly enjoys conversations about worldviews and cultures, society, economics, politics and faith. Shashi also relishes a good cup of Indian chai and a game of cricket, and is a keen spectator of rugby.
On Sundays Shashi leads the congregational services at 9am and 11am, and on Wednesdays at 10am. Fluent in Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu and English, Shashi is available for prayer or conversation. Please contact the church office to make arrangements.