They'll miss "yarning away" with customers and keeping up with the news, but Ōhaeawai Dairy owners Virgie and Bill Murray are more than ready for their retirement.

The popular couple who, along with their son Benji, have run the dairy on State Highway 1 for 26 years, will be ringing the old till for the last time on August 16.

Virgie, 82, plans to do "a bit of knitting and preserving" while Bill, 87, will continue taking care of their Ōhaeawai farm with Benji, where they raise about 60 cattle.

"We've had enough," Virgie said.


"We'll miss the customers, talking over the counter and keeping up with the news and all that's going on. And chatting with people we've known for years. But it's a bit much now. When we started it was a piece of cake but as we got older that piece of cake is only a crumb."

The couple were both born in the Far North. Virgie is originally from Ōhaeawai and Bill is from Kaitaia.

After they married, they moved to Meremere, half-way between Hamilton and Auckland, where they worked at the now defunct power station for 33 years, Virgie as a guide and Bill as a driver and supervisor.

The much-loved couple have opened the dairy's doors from 6am to 6pm Monday to Sunday since 1993 and can't recall ever having a decent holiday. Virgie gives her son credit for being such a big drawcard in the shop, and he could often be spotted having lengthy conversations about rugby with customers.

"He can talk for an hour on rugby," Virgie said.

"Benji is the worker and talker, he's the popular one."

Highlights of their business include obtaining two border collie puppies from a courier driver who had just picked them up from a man desperate to get rid of them.

They've been burgled four times over the years, most recently in June 2018 when a thief took $8000 worth of cigarettes, $100 in postage stamps and some cash.


Worse was the theft of three notebooks with the autographs of celebrities, sports stars and tourists who'd called into the family-run shop since it first opened.

Though they never saw the autograph books again, they were amazed by the kindness of people who dropped by to wish them luck and give them $10, $20, and $50 notes to help them back on their feet.

Ōhaeawai residents Ellen and Doug Smith said the Murrays are "lovely whānau" and "bloody legends".

"The dairy has been a life saver," Ellen said.

"Living 10km out of town, it's often we forget something from town or need something on a hurry, and they always have our backs. They have worked so hard seven days per week with only Christmas day off."

The Murrays want to thank all the schoolchildren, sports clubs, police, truck drivers, posties, farmers and the milkman for their support over the years.

They wish the new owners, Bruce Brown and Layde Williams from Kawakawa, all best.
Their advice on how to deal with customers is: "Treat them how you'd like to be treated and be friendly," Bill said.

Customers are invited along for a cuppa and a biscuit during their last week.