& Camp

"without prejudice"

Basil considered that the Riversdale Beach Store was the vital engine room of the whole beach. He maintained that the store was like the cover to the resort's book, it is the first impression hence the importance of service, smiling faces, flags flying, coloured umbrellas and background happy music.

The pop up caravan on the store corner in 1954 was used by Dave Pringle as a real estate office. There is a possibility it may also have been used to sell ice creams and ice blocks.

The resort did not have electricity until 1959 so ice Creams and ice blocks were transported in canvas bags from Masterton, in those days a one hour drive.

The store was given the name of the Tradin Post by Ricky Long from Masterton.

The lockwood store house was built by one of the two La Grouw brothers who started Lockwood in New Zealand in approx 1955. Gary's job was to hammer every nail into the floor as a 10 year old.

Basil purchased a number of army search lights ex WII, the motors generated electricity and were housed behind the shop thus enabling the store to run fridges and freezers. Basil also ran wires across the road to his house and John Bunnys house.

As the store developed it became a Post Office, First Aid Post, housed the fire tender, towing service for vehicles getting stuck around the beach .

The first lease of the store was to Basil's eldest daughter Paulene in the late 1950's. Paulene was married to Tony Pilmer of Waiteko Station some 18 klms away.

Paulene diversified services in the store by introducing clothing, sun hats, lilos and beach items.

Photo above : For many years Francis (Curly) and Noreen Scharnweber ran the store in the 1960's. Basil considered Curly to be a very loyal employee as he used to work for Basil in Reliance Tyre and Rubber Company in the Masterton branch.

Photo Above Noreen & Curleys daughter Marie

Late 1960's Basil was concerned about the NZ economy, there was an economic recession. Basil had many sections that were not selling with enormous expenses in development costs. In addition, the farm he had purchased for his eldest son Brian to manage, "Riversdale Station ", had an enormous mortgage due for repayment within two years. Basil influenced his youngest son Gary to return from Australia to help with the sales of sections and relieve the family Trust's financial burden. Gary was successful bringing the family trust out of debt paying off the farm mortgage and putting the business into a very profitable position. It was this financial turnaround that prompted the decision to build a new store and modern camp facilities.

Murry Leighton and Ted Walker built the store from plans that Tom O'Day prepared,

These photos show the new store being built alongside and over the old existing store.

Gary and Peter McKenzie carried out all the hard labour with the building. Peter and Ray from Masterton were managing the business at the time.

The photo above is showing the initial setting up of the shelving and stock.

Basil asked Gary to organise the planning and construction of the new store and camping ablution block. Gary had extensive successful experience with retail and marketing in NZ and Australia firstly with Hansells NZ Ltd and Goodyear Tyre & Rubber Co. With the help from Sir Roy Mckenzie's supermarket chain and National Cash Register it was built with utmost efficiency . The aforementioned companies carried out an extensive survey of the beach, then implemented a time and motion study of all facets of the business to design the store layout.

Gary during an interview stressed that the whole family with exception his brother Brian had the major input into the shop and camping ground business. As a young girl Barbara used to serve in the shop. Paulene as aforesaid leased the store for a few years around 1959. Gary took over the complete running of the store and camping ground in the early 1970's. His brother Brian had very little to do with the commercial running aspects of the resort.

The camping ground started before the store business, but at that time it was more of a family concern and for Basil's friends. The camping revenue as the camp became popular was included in the store revenue. For many years the store and camp were subsidised by section sales as they were always regarded as a service to enhance the sales of sections. For many years the Riversdale Station was also subsidised by section revenue according to Basil recordings.

The concrete tennis court and skating rink located behind the shop was a very popular meeting place for campers and beach house owners. Each night Gary ran the roller skating for Basil, selling cold drinks and playing latest hits for the children to roller skate to. Basil purchased 200 pairs of roller skates, it took ten years for the last few pairs to survive. The area also used to house outdoor dances, outdoor movies, new years celebrations, frog jumping contests and of course tennis.

Photo above : some of the arliest campers to Riversdale Beach the Leo Gear family.

The camping ground was very primitive in the early days, (1950's) - the builders' quarters were altered to make room for a kitchen with an Aga stove and sink. Other half of the same building was a flat. All toilets in the early days were long drops.


The camping ground was an extremely important facet for the sale of sections in the early years as many campers ended up buying sections and houses. As the camp grew it became more difficult to manage due to the main road running right through the middle of it. The demise of the camp, in Gary's opinion, was started with the then Ratepayers Association with the same negative influence , "...undermining cloud of jealousy," as Basil used to refer to,( see Opposition and disappointment) with their plan to develop the controversial Esplanade Reserve which opened up a new boundary for the public to enter the camping area. In addtion to this, the camping ground turnover was extremely limited, being a seasonal resort and to protect itself from the public it would need to have had a huge fence all around the boundaries. The capital cost was prohibitive and it was clear that the reason for keeping the camp to sell properties was ending , an end of an era.

Gary sold the camp to Mark Donaldson on the condition he accommodated existing lease site campers.

Next page : Extremes.