It's been re-invented a number of times since Charlie Hutley had his butchery there, and now the tiny shop on the junction of SH1/10 at Awanui has changed tack again.

Aucklander Elle Crayford, who moved north after falling in love with Ahipara four years ago, initially rented it for six weeks with the aim of selling her excess furniture after downsizing from her home in the city, but the response from customers was so enthusiastic that First Nest Design has now become a permanent part of the town.

And she's keen to see a photo of the shop when it was Charlie' s butchery, so she can restore the exterior as it was in his day. The furthest local historian Kaye Dragicevich has been able to go back is the 1960s, when it was Lynne's Place, selling second-hand books.

Charlie Hutley's old butcher shop, pictured when it was Lynne's Place, is now First Nest Design.
Charlie Hutley's old butcher shop, pictured when it was Lynne's Place, is now First Nest Design.

Anyone who has photo of it as a butchery is invited to call in and see her (10am-2pm Tuesday to Saturday, or deliver/send it to the Northland Age (


Elle said last week that she had actually moved to the Far North with the idea of retiring, but she's well and truly back into the swing of life as a businesswoman again.

"Retirement isn't quite what it's cracked up to be," she said.

Her CV is a busy one, her experience including selling everything from pets to antiques and collectables. She's also owned a commercial cleaning business and restored upholstery and furniture, skills that she is making good use of in Awanui.

"I didn't realise there was no dedicated second-hand furniture shop north of Whang─ürei," she said.

"There is now. This is the first or last second-hand furniture shop in the country, whichever way you want to look at it."

Regular trips to Cambridge to see a son in boarding school there gave her plenty of opportunities to find new stock, the only real criteria being that it was solid and would last.

She's had a helper too, over the school holidays. Five-year-old grandson Mayer Barton, who splits his holidays between his grandmothers, was quite an accomplished furniture painter, Elle said, and was rewarded with 50 per cent of the profit on everything he painted when it was sold.