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New inner city mural hearkens to district’s rural past

Hawkes Bay Farmers Co Op Mural

A building with a strong link to rural Hawke’s Bay and Hastings city has had its history brought to life with a new mural celebrating the activities that happened there.

Part of Hastings District Council’s central city vibrancy enhancements, the mural has been painted by Brandon Blair of Crimson Flower Ltd.

Located on the old Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Co-op Association garage at 206 Queen St West, it tells a story of the building, and some of the people that worked there.

The Association started selling cars in 1912 from their Napier garage and at A & P shows. They were agents for Overland and Hupmobile, then added Buicks to the range in 1914.

Records from 1925 showed that Association had a building on the corner of Market and Queen Streets – a retail store, offices and machinery store (that subsequently burnt down in 1929) and was replaced by the building that proudly sits on the corner today.

Next door was a large warehouse, not the one standing today, the back of which was occupied by the Co-op for implement storage and a workshop. In 1925 the Association revealed plans to build a garage on this site to sell and service Buicks.

The advertisement said “New home of Buick Cars in QSW, Hastings”, and it was also promoted as selling “Benzine from Bowzers” and underground tanks, which was a significant advancement in safety, as until then Benzine had been poured into vehicles from 4-gallon tins.

By 1929, the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Co-op Association garage was advertising its General Motors dealership connection with new Buicks and Chevrolets for sale. These American cars were shipped to New Zealand as parts, and assembled in Petone, Wellington.

Having survived the Hawke’s Bay earthquake with some damage, about 10 years later the garage had doubled in size in response to the burgeoning motor trade to become the building that’s there today.

By the 1960s, changes of ownership and mergers had taken place and the building at 206 Queen Street West was never used again as a garage and the petrol pumps were removed.

Hawke’s Bay Farmers Association ceased to exist by the 1990s and the former garage building went into various private ownerships.

In 1996, the car parking area was turned into another retail store for Payless Plastics, and the front of the building was altered to enclose the former petrol pump area. The former liquor store was taken over by Briscoes in the early 1990s.

Hastings District Council public spaces planning manager Rachel Stuart said it was an exciting addition to the enhancements that are being carried out to revitalise the city centre.

“It’s a wonderful snapshot of a piece of our history as a city, which honours our rural contribution, that has also added some colour and interest to this part of Queen Street.”

Hastings District Council took ownership of the building in 2019 and will soon be consulting with the community on the future uses of the site that will contribute to the vibrancy of the city.

12 August 2022

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