Browse around Pat's new book store in old bank

By Lin Ferguson

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Pat McKenna outside his new second hand book store in Waverley.
PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON
Pat McKenna outside his new second hand book store in Waverley. PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON

A store trading in used and rare classic books and "ephemera" opened in Waverley last month in the town's main street, Weraroa Road.

The Book Bank on the ground floor of the old converted Westpac Bank is a blissful browse for book lovers.

The shop is owned by longtime Wairarapa musician, book and antique shop owner Pat McKenna who said he has tried everything and anything in his life.

"No regrets there I can tell you. But I have say people were pretty adventurous back in the 1960s and 70s."

Home for Pat over the past 30 years has been Greytown in the Wairarapa, where he was also born and brought up.

His well known shop Pat's Books in Masterton was a must visit for many people travelling over the hill from Wellington, Wairarapa book afficiandos, and hundreds of travellers from all over New Zealand and overseas, he said.

"I'm very particular about my books. Everything in my shop has to be a great read, a collector's item, a piece of history. It must be a special read."

Moving to Waverley two months ago with wife Raewyn into the renovated former Westpac Bank building had been an inspired move , he said.

"Greytown has become too overcrowded it's really lost its charm. Waverley is like Greytown used to be and I can see Waverley is picking up and becoming popular. It'll be another Greytown; I can see the potential already."

The shop is on the ground floor of the old two storied former bank building.

The wooden shelving with its hundreds of well bound books carefully lined up has that old world feel with its array of old paintings for sale on the walls and a floor that echoes as you walk around slowly.

A small room in the front off the main shop is stacked with speciality books such as historical cook books by authors including Mrs Beeton, Aunt Daisy and a couple published by Country Women's Institutes featuring recipes for roast meats, spectacular gravies and wizzo puddings like blancmanges and jelly mould fluffs.

Pat pointed out his special shelf with its display of old thin journal-style books written by people who were keen on their town's gardening history or small books about a special farm or old house.

"This is my ephemera and I love it. You would just be amazed at the number of people who clean out their old mum's house and put these wee books in boxes to hurl out at the dump. I love these books. They are full of history."

His shop even has a children's section. No Harry Potter books though.

It was all Enid Blyton, and wonderful old albums like Boys Own and Girls Own.

With his bookstore well set up downstairs with a kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms out the back leading onto a wide wooden verandah, Pat said it was a grand place to live.

"Because Raewyn and I are able to live upstairs where there is a second kitchen,bathroom and bedrooms. So it's pretty good when the grandchildren visit."

When he saw old renovated bank building online next to one of the town's pubs he knew it was perfect old town stuff.

"And we even have sea views from the verandah at the back."

But Waverley is not a town you really notice when you drive though, he said.

"You just drive straight through it like Patea. But it's better than Hawera where you never get to see the town unless you turn off the main highway."

Pat said his shop in Waverley was a little more "considered" than his "hole in the wall" shop in Masterton.

"Because it has a special feel. Local history is important and most people love to hunt down historical books."

He said he is catering mostly for the travellers up and down State Highway 3 so opens only on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Mondays.

"That's when there seems to be the most traffic. And Waverley is the town between New Plymouth and Whanganui on route where you can stop and get a decent coffee."

With a twinkle in his eyes Pat said it's refreshing to be in a new area that still seems to be in its fledgling stage.

"It's quiet, it's friendly and it's still a bit rural."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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