Snap ‘Em Mall

In Food Fair, Lynn Mall, Rendell's, Wattie's, Woolworths on February 20, 2011 at 10.46

I happened upon this extraordinary set of photographs on Flickr this week.

They are so for two reasons: Firstly because if you are searching for this genre there is certainly enough of it; although almost without exception, all of the material is American.

Secondly, I remember it well. How often can you say that? “I remember it, because I was there”.

New Lynn was near enough to the family home , but still far away enough that it was still a bit of an “outing” for special requirements. Seeing photos of it – boom! – instantly transported me right back to shopping with Mum alone in too tight toddler shoes; and then later when my sister was added, her and I chasing each other around amongst the huge plant pots in the ubiquitous “modern age finish” of the bleak, pebble encrusted courtyards. And amongst the shelves and aisles of Woolworths to keep ourselves entertained, probably knocking things to the ground with our antics, to disapproving result.

The photographer has enjoyed the medium as a hobby for over 55 years without any formal training. ” These are Images of Woolworths Stores in New Zealand I worked at, or visited.The Lynnmall photos were taken night before official opening in 1963.This was a big event in Auckland, as it was the first regional shopping centre in New Zealand (this was six years after the first one in Australia opened at Chermside in Brisbane). I worked on setting up the store here, then three months later came back from a stint with Woolworths in Australia to manage the Food Fair in Lynnmall. there are probably thousands of occasions where people have captured similar moments around the world. The photos, most likely, get looked at, put in albums or boxes and stored away. If only they would dig them out and add them to a service like Flickr –  just brightening one person’s day would be worth the effort “.

Well, to me this series is an incredible documentation, especially for more personal reasons than others. Brighten my day it did. It’s the kind of stuff I often think “I wish someone had taken photos of something like that – but they never do…” and then, what do you know. Thank god for people with cameras at the ready.

I love to zoom in and look at the designs of the packaging, most now long gone. Here is a digital recreation of a can label I was able to make from the almost indecipherable image of the Wattie’s product stacked on the shelves in the store over to the left in the photo above. I also recreated the POS cardboard display. I’m not sure about some details such as the medallions on the can, but I was able to work with details from another 1950’s can label and photos I’ve collected.

ACheck out the full set here. Thanks to Degilbo for use of the images.

watties lynmall POS mint cropped watermarked copy

Note: Due to repetitive theft by those who take my intellectual property from this blog without my permission, and reproduce it as merchandise for sale on sites such as Ebay, Redbubble and Trade Me,  I have now watermarked this image. If you are interested in purchasing merch of this image you can head to my personal Redbubble store.



  1. Just for the record, Lynnmall pictured in that set opened 30 October 1963 (so that shot showing 1 day to go would date from 29 October that year). Thanks for showing us these!

  2. Great,cheers! Thanks to the photographer for having the foresight to take some snaps. I am still waiting for that holy grail of product close-ups though. I’d ask if he has some stashed away, but I am pretty sure that those types of photos weren’t his focus or intent…still there are a couple of shots where you can make out Crest and Wattie’s cans and Griffin’s biscuits and get some hints of the design.

  3. Being the “photographer” behind most of the images in the above blog, I must say it is pleasing to see them so well displayed for even more to enjoy. In regard to actual product images, no, I do not have any of those. My main focus was on recording the stores I assisted in setting up – both in New Zealand and Australia. The ironical part is all that hard work (?) both in New Zealand and Australia, “disappeared” in latter years, either through succumbing to bigger and better stores nearby, or closure by Woolworths. But that’s progress (?) I guess – LOL!

  4. There may come a day in the near future I will request from you couple of high resolution shots of the shelf displays so I can try to pick up more detail and recreate some more of the packaging. So close…yet so far away!

  5. Fantastic photos and what a great memory. I grew up nearby in Henderson and Massey in the late 70’s and early to mid 80’s before moving to Australia and now in Germany. It was a great flashback to see Lynmall as it was – even though of course it was earlier than I remember, it was still close enough to what I knew to be a fantastic journey.
    If you or anyone else have photos of nearby Henderson Square before the rebuild, that would be fantastic. Henderson Square, although nothing special or grand in design, was still unique and there is nothing like it today. Unfortunately, no amount of searching I have done has brought forward photographs of how it used to look, especially in the early to mid 80’s. If anyone has this, I would be very appreciative.
    Finally, a big thanks to Degilbo and the Longwhitekid for posting these here, including the text and memories.

    • Jo I too would love to see some pictures of Henderson Square. I have not seen any in my travels yet. May father had two real estate agencies in what’s now the modern version which is a bit spread out from the first one. With the original there were still shops in the lanes and arcades around it- but they are now all gone. I went back about five years ago, and it was the strangest sensation, walking around, knowing everything that was “underneath” in some kind of weird parallel universe of my memory – it felt like that subterranean world of the old shops was still there. I remember a lot of the old shops well like “The Clipper” coffee shop, I spent a lot of time there after school, waiting to “go home”! thanks for reading.

  6. TV1 news has just had a news piece about the anniversary of the mall opening!

    • Ah, I see you are working your way back to the early days of the blog!

      Well, hopefully it will go online on their news site at some point! Amazing to think it’s been fifty years already.

  7. I worked at Levin Woolworths in 1966.There were two shops side by side with a partial wall between them. Two branch numbers 427 was variety 525 was food. There was one rubber stamp in use. It read Levin 427/525. Variety branch manager was Bill Clark. Supermarket manager was Dave Currie. Variety warehouse manager was Ross Southee. Also worked at Lambton Quay 451. Elsewhere it is stated to be a supermarket. It was only a variety store selling nothing edible except pick-n-mix confectionery and rose bushes in season. Also worked for two weeks at Willis Street branch 4.. which had a lift up from the second floor warehouse to street behind (I think The Terrace) for deliveries. All these stores had varnished wood or plywood, and there was a french polisher named John Sterry or Sterrie whose job was to tour New Zealand and polish and repair as needed, My memory is that he appeared at our branch about twice a year.

    I also worked at the Le Normandie Arcade Cuba Street Accounts/shipping office, and later at the Rongotail warehouse when that office was moved there. The warehouse was named Welbulk in the tradition of Sydbulk Aukbulk and Cribulk, and similarly te Food area had it’s own branch name Fowel as in Foauk.

    I also worked at the 450 Queen Street head office when it was moved to Auckland in 1974, then at 47-51 Fort Street when L D Nathan took over.

    The Nathan takeover was a problem because of the number of food and vatietybusinesses involved all had head office staff that were competing.

    What was merged was in retail Woolworths, McKenzies, Bond and Bond, Briscoes, in wholesalers Associated Wholesalers, L D Nathan Wholesale, in Liquor New Zealand Breweries,and Allied Liquor, in Tea and Quality Packers (Choysa), in clothing manufacture M Zemba Ltd (Woolworths manufacturer),in Island Traders W H Grove, in rewards a company called Performance Awards PERHAPS, that specialised in promotions for sales I think for retailer’s staff.There was a tavern at the bottom of 47-51 Fort Street called Trader NAthans which opened in the late 1970s and I believe that L D Nathan owned other hotels and taverns.

    The problem was that optimum management of each division ie variety and food required only one set of buyers and systems.

    The LD Nathan Wholesale situation resulted in the “Two Geralds” in charge moving to Briscoes and taking staff with them. .

    I can supply more information.

    • Thanks for this information. I don’t think it was spelled ‘Zemba’ but something similar like Zamba. They had a factory in the CBD in the 1940s-50s, not far from where my grandfather Joe Zam had his factory named Worthy, on upper Queen Street. His clients were Hallensteins, etc.

  8. and I forgot James Smith as part of the merger

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