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Great Gigs at Donovan’s store

by Harry Broad


What do London, New York, Vancouver and Donovan’s Store at Ökärito all have in common? They have all had sell out concerts for one of New Zealand’s most accomplished singer songwriters, Auckland’s Don McGlashan!

Okay, to be fair, Donovan’s Store only holds an audience of 40 people at best, but they make a lot of noise when they are singing, whistling and shouting out requests for songs from so far back even Don was struggling to remember them.

And Don is just one of a number of topline artists who are making use of this facility, some with funding from Culture and Heritage but others turning up under their own steam - they are so keen to have “played at Donovans/Ökärito” on their CV. 

The Ökärito Community Association, in partnership with the Department which owns and maintains the store (the oldest wooden building on the Coast), has been committed to fully renovating the facility, and raising $100,000 as its contribution, as well as a massive amount of volunteer work.

This is in line with its vision to provide a unique resource which celebrates Ökärito’s past as a prime gold mining site, while reflecting the needs and aspirations of the current community and its visitors. A vision which DOC shares.

“Donovan’s store connects the past to the present; it’s a building that has stood guard over time as people, like the tides, have ebbed and flowed, but it is a building that has always welcomed people.  So an essential part of its restoration is the agreement DOC has with the community for its ongoing low-impact community use,” says Wayne Costello, Area Manager Franz Josef.

The site has been rewired, replumbed and significant parts rebuilt in match-lined rimu and while further work remains to be done, it is now open for business.

"There is always a challenge in meeting the requirements for a historic building, while trying to turn it into a practical asset that we can use," says Ian James, who with wife Debbie, has been one of the main drivers behind the restoration programme.
The Donovan’s project sits very comfortably alongside the other achievements of this partnership, including turning the old schoolhouse into a Youth Hostel and running the campgrounds with such flair that it was voted the fourth best in the country.

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