Home' Greymouth Star : November 17th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
Tuesday, November 17, 2015 - 7
PICTURE: Paul McBride
John Moore on the road again.
Motor vehicles go hand in glove with retired car salesman John Moore. In September, after a
lifetime in the trade, the Runanga-born identity closed the gate on his familiar Greymouth car
yard, Coast Autos, opting out for a relaxing retirement. PAUL McBRIDE reports.
ohn Moore grew up in Runanga
and also spent time at Cronadun,
in the Inangahua, when his
coalmining father Gordon took a
break to run the local hotel.
“I come from a coalmining
family, like most who lived in
Runanga at the time.
“My dad was a private coalminer
and worked in three private mines when I
was growing up.
“He had the hotel in Cronadun for three
years. At the time, my mum Pat got Tb and
she spent a long time in the Christchurch
Hospital. It seemed like ages but we then
moved to Rapahoe and my old man went
into the United Party mine at the Ten Mile
and he worked there until he retired.”
John attended the Runanga State School
before furthering his education at the
Greymouth Technical High School, but
an apprentice panelbeater at Dey ’s Panel
Beating, in lower Tainui Street — right
next to his future car yard.
“In my time at Dey ’s there were a
number of panelbeaters and workers there
including Graham Sara, Bill Cook, Don
McBeth, Kevin Kavanagh, Brian Jones,
Dave McCain, Barry Wick, John Sara,
Ian Buchanan, Pat Coll, Brian Hoy, Pat
Knowles, Gary McLennan, Max Anderson,
Francie Becker, Gerry Glenn was there,
too. Eric Dey was the boss, he owned the
business and he was a very good boss to
“They were good times, it was a good
place to work, busy times but a lot of fun.
When Eric (Dey) bought Frank Bell’s Milk
Bar (next door), Billy Cook and I spent
weeks stripping out the inside of the place,
top and bottom storeys. We used to get
this big mirror and when the sun was right,
shine it across the road into the lady in the
gift shop, like shining a magnifying glass
on a bug — it drove her mad,” he chuckled.
“Making acetylene bombs out of large
cardboard boxes and rope dipped in petrol
for a fuse was another lark — they used to
make a hell of a bang. The whole building
would shudder and the dust would fly down
from the rafters.”
John played rugby league through the
grades for Runanga and was in two Thacker
Shield winning sides at a time when there
was a strong bond among those who wore
the black and white jersey.
“ We won a few championships and finals
over the years, and winning the Thacker
Shield were certainly highlights in my
career. I played with some good footballers
back then — Bruce Mann, Herb Hart,
Denis Smith, Bill Johnsen, Neville Keily,
Barney, John and Mick O’Connell, Don
Monk, Johnny Dalzell, Kevin Murcott,
John Low, Mo (Bowes) and Chang
(Newton), Peter Symons, Wayne Butler,
Jeff McGuinness — good teams and good
social sides, too.
“ We’d have some big nights after playing
on Sunday, especially when we beat Marist.
“Down at the Rapahoe Hotel, Baxy (Ron
Baxendale) was running the pub and we’d
be down there to 6am in the morning.
“ When I was growing up a group of us
knocked around together — Mo Bowes,
Brian Jones, Miles (Chang) Newton and
Ron (Flounder) Lee. We would all come
into town on a Friday night and go to the
dances. The Safari, the Ember Lounge,
Stillwater and St Columba halls were
normally the go — good bands, too — The
Tremors, the Familiar Faces and later The
After a chance meeting and courtship
John danced down the aisle with his
wife Sue. They have raised two children
Bernadette and Kirk and this month
celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary.
“I actually met Sue at Mo and Lynne
Bowes’s wedding and when we got married
Don Monk was my best man. Nicola and
Bernadette are my step-daughters and Sue
and I now have four grandchildren and
After nine years in the panelbeating trade
John went across to Christchurch to try his
hand in the car sales business, and so began
a long career in pushing the four-wheeled
“I worked for Douglas Brown Car Sales
on Papanui Road for just under a year, but
I missed the Coast — city life just wasn’t
me. I put in for a job at Motor Corp (back
in Greymouth) as a car salesman and would
have worked there for eight years.”
He saw the opportunity of running his
own car yard and teamed up with Graeme
(Sos) Sutherland to begin Coast Autos
in Tainui Street, on the site of the new
polytechnic trades complex.
“ When Sos left not long after, I ran the
yard on my own accord and bought the old
Masonic Lodge building next door and
knocked it down to extend the yard. It was
the time when the Japanese car imports
opened up. I was there until 2005, it was a
prime location but I eventually sold out to
the Tai Poutini Polytechnic and moved the
yard further up the road, behind what was
the Caltex ser vice station.
“Peter Detlaff had set the site up as
a camping ground motorpark area. I
continued to operate it as a motorhome
park, laundry and car sales.
“I’ve been there for nearly 10 years and
decided last month it was time to pull the
pin as I was overdue for retirement.
“I decided it’s now time to relax and enjoy
life. My policy has always been to treat
everyone as you would like to be treated
yourself, give as good a deal as possible, but
making sure I had a good profit margin as
well — Greymouth is too small a town to
be doing bad deals.
“I seem to have been selling cars in my
sleep for so long now but it is time to get
out of the fast lane — it’s the right time.”
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