31 Oct 2014

Kakahi General Store

From Country Life, 9:27 pm on 31 October 2014

Manu Lala at the Kakahi General Store.

The Kakahi General Store is one of the few of its kind still remaining in New Zealand, and has been owned by the  Lala family since 1937. 

The present owner Manu took over in 1956 and, just like his father before him, he's kept a huge array of goods from foodstuffs  to clothing, nails, fishing tackle and drapery.

He says back in the 1960s and '70s he sold guns over the counter and even installed lino for people who purchased it from his shop.  While those two items have now gone, he still sells just about everything else with the shelves stacked to bursting point.

"I have two museum shelves too. All the old things we used to sell. Ball room dancing powder. We put it on the floor and pulled each other around on sacks."

He admits he has probably got too much stock, "but it's tradition. I like to keep it going".

Manu says he's had a marvellous life in Kakahi, playing all sorts of sports, including representative hockey,  hunting and fishing, and he still has the best life style possible.

The store is the central meeting place for the 150 or so locals. A neighbour, Michael James Walsh, says he grew up in the town, left after school to make some coin overseas before returning to buy the worst house in the best street. 

He now collects junk, carves native timber poles, does tree pruning work and tells tales.

His grandparents ran the local bakery, it was a warm place to gather in winter, as well as the storage den for alcohol  in the days when King Country was dry.

Mike Walsh, wood carver and junk collector.