History alive and well in Palmerston

By on October 17, 2014
Appleby's

Applebys general store was open for business in the Palmerston township for 113 years selling tobacco, fishing tackle, ‘fancy goods’ and giving hair cuts, and was sold only in the last five years.

Seventy-five year old Doug Appleby was the last owner/operator of the store, along with his twin brother Des, and says he is unsure whether he will attend the 150th anniversary celebrations of Palmerston at the weekend.

Mr Appleby still resides in Palmerston and has some memory of what the town was like when he was growing up as a small boy when his father and previously his grandfather were running the store.

He recalls the businesses that were trading at the time including Cowan’s Bookshop, Milkyway Milkbar, Stephenson’s Shoemakers, Bob Milne hairdresser, Clearwater’s Grocer and Warren’s Garage.

There will be plenty of stories and photos being offered at the weekend as the town remembers historical leaders and events which have shaped it into the busy junction town that it is today. A tree planting ceremony is being held this Sunday in the main street at 11.30am to mark the occasion, and a number of other events including Kelly’s Canter, Paddy’s Market and the 50th anniversary of Palmerston Playcentre will make it a huge couple of days for the community.

The Waihemo Museum has put together a booklet of the town’s history which refers to the early settlers who arrived in small numbers to Moeraki, Waikouaiti (now known as Kaitane), Otakou, Taieri Mouth, Willsher Bay and Tautuku. Just prior to this Fredrick Tuckett, a principal surveyor and civil engineer, was instructed to find a suitable area for Scottish Presbyterians to colonise. In 1844, Mr Tuckett travelled overland en route to Waikouaiti and refers to the Waihemo/Shag Valley as being “fertile and beautiful”.

In 1848, Scottish and English settlers arrived into Otago Harbour and began making their way up the coast and areas were opened up for farming. In 1860, the Dunstan Gold Rush prospered and future New Zealand politician, John McKenzie, arrived and began working for landholder Johnny Jones. As Minister of Lands and Agriculture from 1891-1900, Mr McKenzie oversaw many land reforms, favouring small family farmers, and today a cairn sits atop Puketapu Hill at Palmerston in appreciation of his efforts.

By LINDA MCCARTHY

PHOTO: LINDA MCCARTHY

SLICE OF HISTORY: The original shop signage advertising Applebys still exists today.