David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Greatest NZ Stories: Last outpost of the British Empire

From Cape Reinga to the Bluff, the New Zealand Herald's epic roadtrip has begun! To celebrate the Herald's 150th anniversary we're on the hunt for your greatest stories.

Inside the Corogate Cafe. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Inside the Corogate Cafe. Photo / Mark Mitchell

If Her Majesty doesn't mind, Angela Thompson-Hill has a few suggestions around succession to the throne.

It won't be the first time the proprietor of the Corogate Café has penned a missive from the self-styled "Last Outpost of the British Empire", on the road to the Coromandel Peninsula, back to Windsor. The reply correspondence from Buckingham Palace is on the walls of the café, as is the detritus of a Royal family half a world away.

"Charles has to take the throne," she says, pouring tea. The menu on the café wall is more English than Kiwi. Sure, the ubiquitous coffee machine hisses and sits but it is tea that comes in fine china.

Royal eyes peer from the walls. There's plates and cups and figurines - 3500 pieces in all. The ceiling of the café is plastered with Royal jigsaw puzzles - they really do look down on customers. In the corner is a Nativity-style Royal display of dolls and mannequins. The likeness of Kate is good.

Baby George rests nearby in a cot.

"I put myself in the role of being the great-grandmother Queen she is. She has to wait until she gets one-up on Queen Victoria. I will put it to her that she renounces the throne and lets Charles take it over. William has got to be a proper dad."

Mrs Thompson-Hill and husband William have run the café for a decade, about the time they met. There have been other husbands, she says, but she won't talk numbers. "Lots," she says. She's buried a few and, as for the others, she talks about husbands when asked about collecting china. "I can put it on the shelf, dust it and it doesn't let you down."

In the decade the couple have been together, the café has picked up a string of awards and acknowledgements. There is also about $30,000 collected to help relieve the pressure on parents who have children with cancer in Starship hospital. The café's contribution was noted in another letter from Buckingham Palace after Prince William visited one of their recipients during a visit to New Zealand - someone in the palace is connecting the dots, she says.

The personal awards (like a New Zealander of the Year recognition last year) aren't displayed as prominently or proudly as the treasures. "I get embarrassed because it is my passion and it isn't any I wouldn't do anyway."

Your story

Do you have a great yarn or captivating tale to share? Fill in the online form here, email your stories, photos or video to nzhgreatest@nzherald.co.nz or share your story on social media using the hashtag #nzhgreatest.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 22 Sep 2014 06:01:57 Processing Time: 467ms