The commercial sector of Pleasant Point is a very different scene today from that of the pioneering days. The busy triangle formed by Maitland Street and Main and Te Ngawai Roads is a somewhat subdued scene in contrast to that of a hundred years ago.
The clanging anvil and bellowing forge of the blacksmiths and wheelwrights have long since gone to be replaced with quick and efficient acetylene and electric welding tools in the engineering workshops that function there today.
At the point of the triangle, Beach Engineering is a general workshop specialising in the manufacture of farm equipment such as silos, hayracks, etc. Also, work is done under contract to Kerry Engineering, farm implement manufacturers of Kerrytown.
On the corner of Maitland Street and Te Ngawai Road is Pleasant Point Engineering owned by Keith Stowell who specialises in the repair and maintenance of farm machinery, servicing a large proportion of the surrounding district.
The only other business in the triangle today is Atkinson and Dossett’s Garage. In 1960, Tom Dossett and Roger Atkinson Snr. bought the garage and service station with a fleet of four buses from Greenwood Bros. Apart from occasional charter work for sports teams, etc., the buses were used for conveying children to and from school.
The business has expanded over the years to meet public demand and they now have a fleet of twenty-four buses, ten of which are located in other centres. The coach business is known as ‘Landmark Lines’ and is serviced by their own garage staff. They also operate six school buses under contract to Pleasant Point Schools and the Rural Mail Delivery service for the surrounding district. Since the closure of the Post Office in 1989, Atkinson and Dossett have taken on the NZ. Post Agency as well as the township postal delivery service.
The upper floor of the building facing the Main Road which once housed Lienert’s Offices, is now the doctor’s consulting rooms.
Opposite the triangle on Maitland Street, the sounds of forge and anvil are still to be heard echoing from the workshop where Gareth James practises the age-old craft of the blacksmith. He specialises in wrought iron work making anything from drive gates to cutlery and has a showroom at ‘The Artisan’ on Maitland Street.
On the corner of Main and Te Ngawai Roads, the Hotel, with Mr and Mrs Tony Newsome as proprietors, provides accommodation, a good dining room, public bar and lounge and is popular social venue for the district.
Next door on the Main Road is the Supermarket owned by Smith’s Wholesale Ltd. which has replaced the general stores of yesteryear. Gone are the days of telephoned orders, personal delivery and the monthly credit account. Instead, the customer pushes a trolley round and helps himself then queues at the check-out desk to pay cash.
Where meat and money once changed hands at the shop on the corner of Morris Lane, a fishing tackle supplier has set up shop and produces the ‘WhopperStopper‘ brand of lures — sixty varieties in all. Besides making and selling fishing tackle, the proprietor A. Gilbert operates a resilvering business for trophies and table ware.
The Saddlery of bygone years now houses the ‘Rainbow’s End' Co-Operative, an outlet for locally crafted goods. It is run by a committee made up of local church representatives. The idea developed after the 1986 flood — hence the name when it was felt that such an enterprise would be of benefit to the numerous talented people in the district who occupy their time with handicrafts. The profits are put back into the community.
Next door is Pleasant Point Motors, a garage and petrol station owned by Brian Schimanski and, in Jopp‘s Building, now owned by GD. O’Rourke and Sons, is their family Taxidermy. This business, which began as Gerald O’Rourkes hobby, has grown into a flourishing concern with three of his sons engaged in it and has served the hunting fraternity for twentyrfive years or more. The firm caters mainly for the weekend hunter who brings his catch to be mounted as a trophy to adorn his home. Some work has been exported to wholesalers and retailers around the world and clients from as far afield as Africa and Australia send trophies to be mounted. Gerald O’Rourke is now retired and his sons carry on the business.
In part of the same building where their grandfather was once the Men's Hairdresser, Gay’s Gift Shop sells stationery, toys and bric-a-brac besides operating a news and magazine agency.
Further along is Shortus‘s General Store where Cliff Shortus has successfully attempted to reinstate the old style of country store where anything from a nail to a pair of boots can be purchased. In what was the old bakehouse in the back yard, he also has a second hand trading post.
The ‘Blue Garage’ of yore continues in the same line of business as a servicing station and garage for Education Department buses under the supervision of R. Taylor.
On the corner of Halstead and Main Roads, Mervyn Dockerty operates the third garage in the township. It was formerly owned by his father.
Next door to this is Kennett’s Dairy which is a seven day business incorporating milk bar, green grocery, tea shop, news agency, video hire and now, Lotto.
The opening of an eight unit shopping mall in 1979 marked the biggest venture in the commercial sector for many years. This colonial style complex, built at a cost of $137,000, was the brainchild of A. Izard, dairy farmer of Totara Valley and ].J. Friel, local butcher for many years. The premises now contain a butchery under the proprietorship of B. Wilson, Keene’s Pharmacy which fulfilled a long unsatisfied need in the community, and Trust Bank South Canterbury which first came to Pleasant Point with the opening of the Mall. Since then, its services have expanded to advancing loans in the commercial and farming sectors as well as home and personal loans.
With the closure of the Post Office in June 1989, Trust Bank became the only banking service in the township and account holders increased accordingly. These services are much appreciated by those who have to depend on local facilities and, as an additional benefit, the profits are returned to the community in the form of donations and sponsorships for local voluntary organisations. Next door to the bank was a drapery for some years with Mrs D. Te Koeiti and, later, Mrs B. Stewart as proprietors. This business was closed down in 1987 but the shop has recently been reoccupied.
Under the name ‘Stitches‘, part of it is run by Mrs Val Blakemore in conjunction with her hairdressing salon. When not hair-dressing, Mrs Blakemore spends her time sewing garments to order besides selling material and sewing accessories. ‘Clippers’ Hair Dressing Salon caters for men, women and children in hair- cutting and styling to a professional standard.
Strathallan Electrical Services, under the management of M. Sword, occupies the next shop and sells and services a wide variety of electrical appliances and sound equipment. A repairs and installation service is also provided.
The last shop in the Mall accommodates the ‘Snowline Food Bar’ which, besides fish and chips, sells a variety of fast foods. The first fish and chip outlet in Pleasant Point was opened in the Jopp Building in the late [9603 by Mr and Mrs Ben Sheard. It changed hands several times and transferred to its present situation when the new complex opened.
At 51 Main Road, where a milk bar and grocery once operated, R. Stratton has set up his ‘Cortez’ Leather Workshop. His business grew from a hobby learnt from an elderly friend. He is one of only four bag pipe specialists in New Zealand and makes wind bags for pipes and dress sporrans and drum slings for pipers. He also specialises in sandal making and sells a large range of sports bags.
Further along Main Road, occupying what was once the electrical services shop, is Aorangi Veterinary Services clinic. This was one of a chain of branches set up by the Timaru based parent clinic in the late 1970s. The continuing growth in numbers of its clientele demonstrates the demand it has satisfied both for pet owners in the township and farmers in the surrounding districts.
Another enterprise which has been operating in Pleasant Point since 1942 is Cook and Sons’ Sawmill at the end of Morris Lane. When it first started up, it was considered to be only temporary due to an apparent lack of millable trees in the area. However. Cooks stretched the limit and still find plenty of work. A family business, it is now operated by the third generation and employs fifteen to twenty workmen.
On their arrival, the only equipment Cooks had was a traction engine and two saws. Today the mill is well equipped with up-to-date electrical and hydraulic gear. Timber is purchased from as far afield as Tekapo and Kakahu and wood lots are bought in from local farmers. Contract work is also undertaken for Timberlands.
In spite of a disastrous fire in 1984 which destroyed much of the machinery, the mill was rebuilt on the same site and continues to prosper. Most of the sawn timber is sold locally but some is now exported. Off-cuts and waste are cut into blocks and sold for firewood around South Canterbury.
Pleasant Point has long been noted for its fine honey. Mr Dick Holland first established an apiary in the district in a small way during the depression of the 1930s and the business gradually expanded. He then set up a honey packing business in Horton Street for which he patented a honey creaming method. This enabled him to produce New Zealand’s finest packed honey.
In 1968, the packing business was purchased by the New Zealand Honey Marketing Authority which operated it until 1981 when it was sold to the New Zealand Honey Cooperative. It is now the biggest honey factory in the country, packing a thousand tonnes a year and also exporting bulk lots of honey around the world.
When Dick Holland took to honey processing in the 1950s, he sold his apiaries of 700 hives to Fred Bartrum who, with his son Paul, has increased the number of hives to 3000. They employ three men and run the business from the premises on the Main Road opposite the domain. In 1957 Mr Bartrum pioneered beekeeping in the Mackenzie Country and his hives are now spread over a vast area.
Until recently, Stephen Robins operated another bee-keeping business from his property on Manse Road. It was started by his father in 1953 but the hives have now been sold to the Bartrum family.
Cyclemakers Group Limited began production in Pleasant Point in October 1981 under the chairmanship of B.J. Jackson of Timaru who had a long experience in the Cycle Retail Industry. Ian Hooker was the managing director with several years of experience in cycle manufacturing.
Pleasant Point was selected as a site for the factory because the company believed that a small town offered a lot of advantages for such a venture. With few industries and a growing population in the township, it was felt that a good labour force could be obtained. Also, people were likely to identify more readily with a factory in a small town rather than if it were just another factory in a large industrial area. Local pride in achievement would result in better workmanship and harmonious industrial relations.
At the beginning the firm had a staff of ten and 400 retail outlets in the country. Production has expanded over the years and it is now the only cycle designer and manufacturer in New Zealand. The lifting of import controls in July 1988 had a profound effect on the industry and caused other manufacturers to close down.
Cyclemakers produce a full range of cycle models. Parts are imported from europe and Japan and frames are made at the Pleasant Point factory where the machines are assembled. More than one hundred bicycles a day are produced and sold all over New Zealand. It is the only distributor of the French Peugot cycle range.
The factory is situated in Te Ngawai Road on land leased on a long-term basis from the Anglican Church Property Trust. At the time of writing, about thirty-five people are employed in full-time or temporary positions.
On the neighbouring site facing onto Greig Street is Pleasant Point Panel Beaters owned by D. Bell and C. Race. This business was first established in the township by Barry Esler who built a workshop on Te Ngawai Road in the late 1970s. When the Church property was zoned industrial in the early 1980s, he built a bigger workshop there and, later, sold the business.
In recent years, small berry fruit production has been carried on in the township. In Greig Street, John Rolston established a blueberry orchard and supplies an expanding market, both local and in the U.S.A. from the 2000 fruit bushes on his property.
Strawberries and raspberries are grown at Warren’s Gardens in Burke Street and sold locally and under contract to Canterbury Berry Fruit Company and Raspberry Marketing Authority for distribution in New Zealand and overseas.
Mr Don Armstrong of Butlers Road grows 30 acres of black currants which are sold to Barker’s Winery at Pleasant Valley and under contract to Canterbury Fruit Company.
In Frederick Street, Reverend Cunliffe cultivates a tree and shrub nursery specialising in New Zealand natives. He first established the nursery as a hobby on his retirement from the Anglican ministry of Te Ngawai Parish.
Tradesmen operating in Pleasant Point today include builders N. Gould, R. Earl, M. Beynon and L. Hardie; bricklayer J. Egan, electrician P. Clemens and joiner K. Wills leasing D. Carter’s joinery business, all of whom contribute to the self-sufficiency of the local building industry.