There's nothing better (for me at least) on a hot Hawke's Bay day than to eat ice cream.

One of Hawke's Bay's most endearing brands of ice cream was Blue Moon – and there are many who can still remember the original business started by Mr Delaney, which had its 1938 beginnings in a small dairy in Heretaunga St East, Hastings.

The business was moved to a shop across the road in 1941 by the next owner, Wilson Hazelwood (1912–1991) who created an ice cream garden with a goldfish pond, and he made the ice cream at the back of his shop.

When he took over the business the ice cream was coloured blue – hence the naming of the ice cream brand as Blue Moon.

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However, the ice cream wasn't selling so well, and Wilson thought the colouring might have had something to do with it.

He started experimenting with new recipes, recording them all and filling two diaries in the process.

By the end of the year the ice cream was selling well, and a selection of real fruit flavours was available.

The third owner, Tom McAvinue (1894–1965), purchased the dairy in 1947.

A company separate to the Blue Moon Dairy and ice cream garden was formed in 1949 to expand the Blue Moon ice cream manufacturing business.

This company had 17 shareholders, Edwin Bate was chairman and the company secretary was Harold Carr.

The Blue Moon Dairy was sold to Bruce Hastie in 1957, and he immediately increased the opening hours and added new products, such as sundaes and milk drinks.

Bruce later added a coffee bar, which was one of the first in the area.

In addition to increasing the product offerings, Bruce attributed his successful business to "cleanliness, customer service and well-trained staff".

In 1962 Bruce had a visit from Harold Carr, who wanted to know if he wanted to buy into the manufacturing ice cream business of Blue Moon.

"Yes," said Bruce "but only if I buy the whole company."

A meeting of shareholders occurred, and they agreed to sell the business to Bruce.

The manufacturing side of the business soon expanded, so Bruce purchased a section in a newly developed industrial area in Havelock North, with street frontage to Karenema Drive.

He opened Blue Moon's ice cream factory there in 1966. Agents were appointed in Gisborne, Manawatu and Taranaki for his products.

Bruce himself created new ice cream flavours (of which there were 30 in total) such as Turkish coffee, damson (plum flavoured), and coconut ice and cherry.

Other products included soft-serve ice cream. Chocolate bombs were made, and ice blocks under the brand Star Pops. Two of his trucks serviced Napier and Hastings.

Bruce recalled that the ice cream market was competitive, especially from Tip Top and Peter Pan, so he ensured he had a top-quality product.

Ice cream was sold in one, two, four, five, 10 and 16-litre packs.

Another wing to the building was added to provide more refrigerated space (the area is now occupied by Acme Supplies).

In June 1976, Hawke's Bay hosted its first and only ice cream conference at the DB Te Mata in Havelock North (now Mary Doyle Lifecare).

All the big players were there, including Tip Top Ice Cream and Wattie's.

Havelock North Mayor Jeff Whittaker opened the conference, which had three Hawke's Bay representatives: Rush Munro, Denne's (Peter Pan Ice Cream) and Blue Moon. (Rush Munro's is the only one remaining).

One of the topical issues at the conference was the decline in sale of bulk ice cream.

The secretary of the New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers Association, Mr P J Moore of Wellington, stated: "Shop owners are finding it more convenient to sell something on a stick than put ice cream in a cone."

Strategies the conference came up with included promoting ice cream parlours to enable growth of cone sales.

Bruce Hastie, of Blue Moon Ice cream, was interested in the New Zealand Ice Cream industry beyond his company, and was in 1984 president of New Zealand Independent Ice Cream Manufacturers and vice-president of New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers.

It was also in 1984 that Bruce received and accepted an approach from Devon Dairy Products in Tauranga to purchase the business.

The Havelock North factory would service the lower North Island and Devon's Tauranga base the upper North Island.

It was thought to be a wise move for the business by Bruce, and he sold, but Devon's new venture was over within a year and the Blue Moon brand consequently disappeared.

• Michael Fowler is taking a walking and bus tour, and other rail and walking tours of Hastings Art Deco during the Tremains 2018 Art Deco Festival. Bookings at iTicket. He is also speaking at 10.00am, Friday, February 16 at the Century Theatre, MTG on the topic Post 1931 Marine Parade: The beginning of Napier's Playground. Entry by gold coin donation.

• Michael Fowler (mfhistory@gmail.com) is an EIT accounting lecturer, and in his spare time a recorder of Hawke's Bay's history.