When the first issue of the Mangawhai Focus saw the light of day almost 10 years ago, Jo Roberts was visiting family in Canada, as I recall. She wished us well before she flew out and, shortly after her return, offered to pen local snippets of news initially on a monthly then later, the current bi-monthly basis. Such was the birth of our Did You Know column to become an integral part of the paper for just a little under a decade.
A Felicity Ferret in the very best sense, a widely read, experienced and knowledgeable Jo gleaned and gathered her snippets through all of the events, meetings and clubs within her social calendar while out for a bike ride, walking the dog about the village or just a quick natter at the butchery or bookshop.
It wouldn’t be fair to says she’s run out of ink – not Jo Roberts. And I don’t think ‘hung up her pen’ quite fits the bill either, but suffice it to say that after 10 years she feels her column has been overtaken somewhat by social media and while this may be true to a degree there are still those of our readers (me included) who enjoy the information therein and often marvel at the titbits she gathers and interesting things that simply fail to escape her eagle eye.
Yes, Jo, 10 years. Seems to have gone in a flash since the first column, December 2005. You have earned a release from that fortnightly deadline. We are beholden to you for your loyalty and interest in The Focus, your sense of humour and your constant vigilance of what’s happening in and around Mangawhai, it’s trials and tribulations, its comings and goings and most especially its people, young and old, rich and richer, whose daily lives have become the ink in your pen and who have contributed, knowingly or otherwise, to some great reading over that decade. You have earned our grateful thanks for a job well done.
In closing the door on Did You Know, something along similar lines will reappear in the not-too-distant future and though galloping technology might have some influence on the content there are those who still enjoy the printed word that a small hyper-local newspaper seeks to deliver and for that we are most grateful.
For those who like a little history, here are some nostalgic snippets from Did You Know in the very first issue of The Mangawhai Focus:
New businesses, improved roading, land subdivision, house construction, and now ‘Lotto’ at Scotty’s Four Square. Mangawhai is buzzing!
n Latest venture to open ‘Meant To Be’ is indeed that. Sharon Radford and Colleen Paul have teamed up, put in long hours, and opened the doors to their furniture and gift shop just along from Smashed Pipi in the village. Imported wood and leather furniture, mirrors, aromatic potions and lotions, South Island possum products (support the reduction in possum numbers and save a tree!) plus heaps more of course, all beautifully displayed. Last week Sharon and Colleen were unpacking trendy little bags sourced from islands in the south pacific, made from renewable resources such as shell, coconut wood and fibre.
n The Village Meat Shoppe has reached new heights! Young (and tall) Dan Klink, along with dad Rob (he’s the tallest) and mum Wendy (the short one) have purchased the business and you can
tell they are thoroughly enjoying themselves. Dan served his apprenticeship under Alister so has access to all those wonderful recipes for small goods. That enticing smokehouse aroma will continue.
n Spotted: The Air Mail letter box at No. 2 Devich Road, suitably elevated. One for the birds perhaps?
n B46 is the name of the early education childhood centre nearing completion on the corner of Molesworth Drive and Pearson St. Proprietor Natalie Alispahic, who has a B.Ed, Dip.Tching, plus two active youngsters, says she is awaiting a final approval inspection from the Ministry of Education before having an Open Day and taking enrollments. As the name suggests, the centre is for under sixes, with full day care including meals available. And yes, Natalie has strong local links. Her mum, Gabrielle Alispahic is a Wintle!
n Blue Sky Gifts, at the Wood St shopping centre, is another new business. Neil direct imports quality nautical gifts and brassware, including telescopes, sextants, dive helmets and more. A visual feast best describes the gemstone inlay globes, every country depicted with a different gemstone. And if you are missing some of the products stocked by the former Art and Soul, Neil and Dianne say they are continuing on the range of crystals, incense etc. Open 9-5, seven days, with a special offer of 10% discount and a free gift with all purchases prior to Christmas.
n Well done, Milestone Cottages, the eco hamlet by the sea, on achieving a four star Qualmark rating. What more needs to be said… you’re simply the best!
n Following the successful, well-organised Plunket Garden Ramble which raised over $2600, one parent was heard to suggest a “Bloke’s Shed Tour, with everyone made to take something away! Surely not. All that stuff will come in handy one day, won’t it?
From The Focus team.
MULTI-TALENTED: The evergreen Jo Roberts pictured with one of her own original art works.