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The Kishors have concluded their time at Raukawa Dairy, ending their 22 years at the town end of Mill Road with a tinge of sadness.

They closed the doors for the last time on Sunday, February 4. The store will not reopen, with the property owner having other plans.

It’s clear Nand Kishor and wife Hem are going to miss the friendly conversations and seeing youngsters of their regulars growing up over the years.

They won’t miss the seven-days-a week business, however, they never saw it as a grind, but more as another day when they can serve their loyal customers.

“We’ve got to know a lot of people in Ōtaki. It’s been lovely and a privilege to be a part of Otaki’s iconic store,” Hem says.

The couple worked together almost constantly for their 22 years at the dairy. They do recall one occasion a few years ago when Nand fulfilled a lifelong dream to visit Israel.

“I’ve always wanted to visit the Holy Land,” he says.

They simply closed the store for three weeks while they were away.

Nand and Hem Kishor with daughter Leena on the last day for Raukawa Dairy.

Photo supplied

Nand and Hem brought their family, including daughters Preeti, Leena, Jessica and his elderly mother, to Ōtaki in 2002 from Fiji. They had been running a general drapery store in Ba, a town of about 16,000 not far from Nadi. All of Nand’s siblings were in New Zealand, which prompted him to also move here.

“My nephew in Ōtaki arranged for our family to move here when he heard Raukawa Dairy was up for lease,” Nand says.

They admit it has always been a challenge for a small dairy that is literally next door to a supermarket – originally Price Chopper and now Countdown. However, the dairy has been a quick convenience store, so people could come in to grab a drink, snack or ice-cream, without having to queue up. Not many people came in for groceries.

Nand also says it’s been a challenge to run a dairy with only the two of them. Just like a supermarket, they’ve had to keep tabs on stock levels and pricing that often required many hours outside their opening times. And those hours have been substantial. When they first arrived they opened from 7am to 9pm – they’ve eased it back a little over the years to 7.30am-7pm weekdays and 8am-7pm in the weekends.

The Covid pandemic brought some changes. For Raukawa Dairy it was most noticeable with the installation of a perspex screen on the counter. It was something the Kishors knew was necessary, but they lost a little of the face-to-face interaction with customers.

They rarely felt threatened in their time at the dairy, recalling only one scary incident five years ago about 6pm in December. It was when two young men entered the store with pruning knives.

They jumped over the counter and headed for the cigarettes cabinet. Nand was grazed with one of the knives, but not seriously hurt.

Fortunately, a regular customer had also just pulled up outside and saw the men enter with their hoodies pulled down over their faces.

“He wasn’t a big man, but he came in and confronted them by picking up one of the newspaper stands and throwing it at them,” Nand says. “That gave them a fright and they got out of there pretty quickly and nothing was taken. This man was a hero.”

The offenders, including a get-away driver, were later caught by police in Palmerston North.

So what now for the well-liked Ōtaki couple?

Hem is continuing to work from home with her clothing alteration business that she offered at the dairy. It was a skill she acquired from her time running the drapery store in Fiji.

Nand is not content to retire completely either. He’s looking for work that might use his diverse business skills, and for opportunities to serve people in the community and the church.

He’s not likely to sit around waiting for the sunset. The day after they closed they were busy cleaning and moving out the stuff they still had at the shop. The next day, Waitangi Day, he mowed the lawns and spent time gardening, a rarity for him during the day. He is currently playing by ear to see what future plans God has for them.

To contact Hem about her clothing alterations, phone 022 035 4568, or Nand at 06 364 7747







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End of an era as Raukawa Dairy closes



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