Child’s Play at Coastlands

The winter school holidays have been and gone, and with it, the seemingly endless quest to find something for the kids to do. Ever since shopping centres opened in New Zealand fifty years ago, families have used them as entertainment. When Coastlands opened in 1969, being one of just a couple of indoor shopping centres in the country open at the weekend; visiting it was a huge treat. Those were the days of simple pleasures and shopping for necessities only. Having an ice-cream or spider at the Karetta Lounge after a slide on the indoor playground would have been the highlight of a child’s month.

Over the years, Coastlands has put on thousands of holiday activities for children, together with shows, exhibitions, displays, competitions and sporting events. In the seventies and eighties, baby shows, and beauty pageants were very popular. Proud mothers would enter their babies to win the bonniest baby, and girls would compete in the Miss Coastlands and Junior Miss Coastlands competitions. Now these babies probably have babies of their own and for the beauty pageant winners, the competition is a distant memory.

In the early days, children were enchanted by a 20c ride on a mechanical rocking horse outside the Wimpy Family Restaurant. Now there is a multi-screen cinema, Coastlands Aquatic Centre and a variety of free activities provided by the centre. Yet, children are still heard to say frequently “I’m bored”.

Some things though, have stood the test of time. Colouring in competitions still feature, as well as the everlasting popularity of Lego table and talent contests.

In the last school holidays, children could make rice paper rolls in the Little Chef sessions, wearing their own chef hats and aprons – a little more sophisticated than the All-Star Pro-Thumb Wrestling and Laser Yo-Yos Championships of the seventies.

The simple fun of apple bobbing was a very popular event in 1975 drawing huge crowds to watch children try and eat apples hanging off a stick. Many will still remember the Christmas Parades, Ronald McDonald shows, visits by Garfield, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, tea with Mr Blobby, Golden Stories Character Show, clowns, magicians and puppets – all of whom appeared in the line-up at Coastlands over the last 50 years.

Who remembers the popular Junior School Quiz which ran for several years between contestants at Kapiti junior schools? As with most things, entertainment at the mall has evolved, leaving the organisers forever chasing the next ‘big thing’ to attract people to watch and take part.

Even face painting has come a long way from the amateur painted nose and whiskers in the eighties, to the sophisticated, detailed designs of international award-winning artists at Daizy Designs who are regularly booked to face paint at Coastlands.

Coastlands is celebrating its 50th birthday on 6 November 2019. As part of the celebrations, there will be a public photographic exhibition of images taken at the mall over the last fifty years, showing the events, tenants, staff, customers and visitors.

Do you have a childhood memory of activities at Coastlands you would be happy to share? Email them to coastlandsmemories@gmail.com

Coastlands Bookshop – 50 years of selling books and magazines

When the mall opened on 6 November 1969, Peter Siversen was the proud tenant operator of Coastlands Book and Toy Store. The year before, Ray Spackman, known as ‘Mr Coastlands’, approached Peter, who he knew through St John’s Paraparaumu Beach Church where Peter was Parish Treasurer, and asked if he would be interested in having a shop in the new mall.

At the time, Coastlands was the only shopping centre to “be under one roof” explains Peter, and the only one south of Taupo to open on Saturdays. “I thought it would be a tremendous opportunity.”
“Ray asked me what sort of shop I would like to run. I had been working with my grandfather since I was 15 on the Sports Digest and Turf Digest publications, so thought books and magazines would be good.”

Since moving to the coast in 1962 after his marriage, Peter was an active member of the Kapiti Community, playing rugby for the Paraparaumu Seniors for six years. In his first year 1963, he was selected for the Horowhenua First Class Representative Rugby Union which he played for three years. He was the first player from the local club to win the representative blazer. He was also a keen squash and golf player.

His grandfather, Albert Organ, opened bookstores on all the major railway trunk lines in the 1920s, so there was a strong family love of books. Peter’s interest in squash, rugby and golf prompted including sporting goods into the shop and having two young children meant toys were a natural fit too. So, the Coastlands Book and Toy Store was born.

The year before, Peter and his wife had travelled to Mexico, USA, Hawaii and Australia, and were inspired by seeing the shopping malls there. Peter commented in the Evening Post 5 November 1969 that Coastlands “is on a par with any [mall] I saw on my travels, and the latest overseas ideas will be incorporated into the shop.”

Coastlands was a very different shopping centre fifty years ago. It one of the first centres to open on a Saturday but with five-day trading, that meant it was initially closed on Sundays and Mondays. Costing $800,000 to develop, contractors included Brien Electrical, Cubbitt and Wells and Stafford Electrical. Tenants were described as having ‘used imagination and care in the planning for shop fronts and interior decors. This gives character and animation to the overall mall design.’ The new bookstore and toy shop had specially designed mahogany-stained fittings and a rich carpet of gold and brown.

“That first Christmas was incredible”, remembers Peter. “We had large toys displayed outside the store in the Garden Court area.” Also outside the shop, was a model Father Christmas, and a special letterbox for children to post their letters to the real Father Christmas. Peter personally replied to every letter on behalf of Father Christmas, enclosing a voucher for a gift.

The store also stocked office furniture, typewriters and Christmas decorations, and provided typing and reproduction services (now known as photocopying).

Over the next three or four years, Coastlands expanded with a sports shop opening upstairs, so Peter stopped selling sports equipment. Then Storkline opened up a toy shop, and he stopped selling large toys. Later, the shop was reduced by a third by mutual agreement with Coastlands management, who wanted the space for a new delicatessen – Tastebud.

In March 1979, Peter decided to sell the business to Basil and Louise Clarke (parents of Rob Clarke, the current owner who has run the store under the Paperplus franchise for many years).

Peter had been selling Golden Kiwi tickets in his store for many years (the forerunner to Lotto) and when he sold the book shop, was approached to become their general manager in Wellington, with a staff of 50. He did this for another ten years until Lotto took over from Golden Kiwi. He was then given the job of Instant Kiwi Manager replacing Golden Kiwi, finally retiring when he was 65 years old.

That was 13 years ago but retirement doesn’t appear to have slowed down the active Mr Siversen, who works out every morning, goes for an hour-long walk rain or shine, regularly plays golf and enjoys time with his family including four grandchildren. “I always wanted to be a grandpa”, he says, and in October this year, he will become a great grandpa.

Reflecting on his time at the Coastlands Book and Toy Shop, Peter says, “It was such an important part of my life: meeting people, regular customers collecting their magazines every week, having the time to talk to them with no computers, no phones.”

Many different types of shops have come and gone over the years at Coastlands, as the face of retail has changed. The days of the Gay Petite Babywear, Platt’s Furnishings, TV rentals at Kronfeld Hardware, Joleen Coiffure Boutique and Hickmott Gifts are long gone, but the book shop, started by Peter, fifty years ago, is still here and flourishing as Paperplus.

Peter is believed to be one of only two surviving original tenants of Coastlands.

Coastlands is celebrating its 50th birthday on 6 November 2019.

Coastland’s First Self Help Supermarket

When the mall opened on 6 November 1969, Coastlands was one of the first shopping malls in New Zealand. Later, it became one of the first shopping centres to open on Saturdays, then one of the first to open on Sundays. But it also housed a unique New Zealand business when it opened, the first self-service retail grocery store of its kind, Self Help. In a picture, strangely reflective of today’s retail market concerned with unnecessary packaging, Self Help customers were asked to bring their own wrapping paper and string to package their purchases.

The formula was simple – no credit, no deliveries, no price fixing and no packaging.

The story began in 1921 when railway worker Benjamin Sutherland organised a co-operative shop among fellow employees for grocery items. In October 1922, Sutherland founded the Self Help Co-operative Limited. Instead of making the highest profit possible, Self-Help sold goods for the lowest possible profit.By the end of 1969, Self Help had ten supermarkets in the Wellington area with another scheduled to open in 1970.

Sutherland also lead the way in pioneering staff benefits; a liberal staff benefit fund, profit-sharing and annual bonus payments as an incentive. They also introduced sick pay, medical expenses, baby bonus and death benefit.

The Sutherland’s Self Help Trust was formed in 1962 to further fund community welfare. In that year $41,360 was distributed to 17 organisations. Since then over $28 million has been distributed. Today, the Sutherland Self Help Trust still gives grants to community organisations throughout New Zealand.

After the passing of Benjamin and his sons, in 1974 Self Help was sold to various other grocery concerns including what is now Foodstuffs – New World, Four Square and PAK’nSAVE.

One of Self Help’s most experienced and knowledgeable managers, Mr Avon Inwood, led the team at Coastlands. He started at Self Help Motueka in 1941, aged 15 and worked at their Upper Hutt, Cuba Street and Strathmore Park shops in Wellington before moving to Coastlands.

At the time of the opening, Mr Inwood said “Many people do not appreciate how complex and interesting the retail food industry has become. It is a far cry from the grocery business as I knew it as a boy. To get the maximum value from modern techniques and handle the problems of expansion in the number of lines available to the public, our company is installing a computer. This, in the long run, will produce a variety of benefits to our customers”. Avon Inwood died in 1979, aged 53. He and his wife had four children, Michael, Paul, Suzanne and Christine.

Mr Francie Dural managed the fruit and vegetable department at the Coastlands store when it opened. He described his area as having ‘modern, specially designed, produce display units with their mirrors add that additional splash of colour to achieve effective, attractive and appealing displays of fresh fruit and vegetables’.

Coastlands is celebrating its 50th birthday on 6 November 2019.

The Vision Of Coastlands – 50 Years On

It started with a vision in 1963 by one man to build a shopping mall in Kapiti, which was at the time, a set of small, sleepy seaside communities. Accountant Ray Spackman, known as ‘Mr Coastlands’, bought the land in 1963 where the mall now sits. After a visit to Australia to investigate their new shopping centres, Ray returned convinced that malls were the way of the future, even though there were none in New Zealand at the time. What followed was a five-year campaign with the support of eight other local visionaries to turn Coastlands Shopping Town into reality.

There were many obstacles, not least trying to convince the financial institutions of the time to invest in Paraparaumu.

“It’s hard to imagine now how much a leap of faith the whole venture was for what was basically a small group of local businessmen who believed ‘if we build it, they will come'”, said the late Bruce Mansell, who at the time worked for Ray Spackman’s accountancy firm, and succeeded him as Managing Director of Coastlands in 1987.

Paraparaumu, at the time, was a town of around 5000 people and the Coastlands’ site was an overgrown farm covered in pine trees and scrub.

As well as finding investors, the group had to battle local government, (which was then Hutt City Council), to get the sub-division approved.

Perseverance and faith in the Kapiti region eventually saw construction getting underway in April 1969. The mall opened on 6 November 1969 with 21 shops and 6180 m2 retail space. These pictures show what a completely different landscape Paraparaumu was then.

Ray Spackman’s faith in the region was deserved. Fast forward fifty years, and Coastlands Mall now has over 100 shops and covers an area of over 49,000m2 retail space.

When Coastlands opened, the Kapiti Observer said it was “the day the whole district has been waiting for”. It was a game changer for the Kapiti Coast which has been one of the fastest growing districts in the country since, now with a population of over 53,000.

The past fifty years have seen continued growth and development of the mall, and many firsts including being one of the first shopping centres to trade on Saturdays, making Coastlands a mecca for shoppers all over the Wellington region.

In 1982, a unique partnership was formed between Coastlands Shopping Town and the Ngahina Trust who each have a 50% stake in the land south of the Wharemauku Stream. This allowed for further development of Coastlands. Part of Coastland’s arrangement with the trust was that the land would never be sold, and the trust could regard it as their ancestral land forever, which is important to both parties. Buildings on the expanded site, named Ngahina Arcade, include PAK’nSAVE and The Warehouse.

$150 million investment in developments over 50 years, including Tariki House which opened in 2018, has firmly secured Coastlands as the centre of the Kapiti Coast. “At the heart of the Coastlands developments is the hope to create a space in the community where people can work, connect, shop and play while enjoying pleasant surroundings. It is something we continue to develop,” says Richard Mansell, Chief Executive, who followed in his father’s footsteps managing Coastlands, after his father’s death in January 2013.

Coastlands celebrates its 50th birthday on 6 November 2019.