Hart Foundations

In Desserts, Frozen Foods, Harts Frozen Novelties Ltd, Harts Ice Cream Ltd, Ice Cream, Leo Francis Hart, NZICMA, Robert James Hart, Snack Foods, The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers' Association on December 5, 2013 at 10.46

Harts Ice Cream Ltd 152 Greenlane Road Auckland  half gallon tin EDIT copy

A half gallon Harts ice cream tin, probably dating from the mid-late 1970s.


This unusual Auckland ice cream tin came up on Trade Me today which prompted me to do a bit of looking into it.

I was able to eventually crack this one as being established around WWII or just before by a Leo Francis Hart, who was born in Inglewood, Taranaki in 1900 to James Hart and Catherine Elisabeth Campbell.

He probably established the brand in the late 1930s – he first appears at 136 (now 136-138) Greenlane Road in 1935 with his wife Ivy Maud (nee Bell) – and gives his job as “dairyman.” Clearly there was a residence there originally – now long since gone and replaced with a building housing a “Nosh” food market. From the mid-Nineteenth Century Greenlane was known as excellent pasture land for successful dairy herds and crops, but once grand country houses on farms – it was beginning to disappear by the time the Harts arrived on the scene.

152-154 Greenlane Rd 136-138 was adjacent Hart's ice cream factory probably blue building house edit copy

152-154 Greenlane East today: The blue building is probably the original factory, and the lemon house to the left may have been the later family home.


By 1943 Leo had joined The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers’ Association (NZICMA) as “Harts Frozen Novelties Ltd.”
Leo bought the adjacent land at 152, 154 and 156 over 1944-1945 from three owners – Noel Edward Stewart, Raymond Joseph Goold, and Alton Garnett. By the mid 1940s the business name was “Hart’s Delight Ice Cream Ltd”, and then in July 1948 it was finally changed to “Hart’s Ice Cream Ltd’, which stuck – but without the apostrophe on the packaging.

Robert James (Bob) Hart, his son, was born 1931 and had joined him in the business by the late 1940s. Leo then added more land to his holdings bought from Walter Louis Castaing in 1949 (probably number 150 at the road front). Their given domestic address changed from 152 to 154 Greenlane Road this year so clearly they built a new house and moved into it.

At the same time Leo also did a number of transactions for property he owned, as well – he had sold some other land to two Auckland parties; Central Stores (Pine Island) Limited and Evelynne Dadley.

136-138 and 152-154 Greenlane Rd Hart's ice cream factory copy copy

Aerial map of Greenlane East showing the Hart family’s holdings: Lots 136-138, 150-152, and 154-156. The factory appears to have been down a drive at the back taking up most of  Lot 152.


The Auckland Council have on record a contract that Onehunga Council made with Harts in 1954 to supply ice cream to them. No doubt they also supplied local business like the 1920s-era Lido Cinema (which still operates to this day) as well as Greenlane Hospital.

Leo travelled numerous times over the years, taking trips to Southampton, England (1958), also Port of Spain, Balboa, Papeete, Suva, Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Fremantle, Durban, Cape Town and Las Palmas.

1966 seems to be the last mention of any association with NZICMA that is on record. Leo died in1967, and the business seems to have gone on until 1978, around the year his widow Ivy passed away. Perhaps the inheritor(s) decided to call it a day. I’d place a bet that like just about every smaller (or even larger) ice cream business, it was probably snapped up by General foods and subsumed.

1957  Leo Francis & Robert James Hart 152 Greenlane MAUNFACTURERS edit copy

Electoral roll showing the Harts working as well as residing at 152 Greenlane Road, in 1957. Previous to this Leo had continued to describe himself modestly as “dairyman.”


Leo’s son Robert James Hart had married Shirley Rose in 1958, and they were living at 11 Lochinver Rd, Papatoetoe for many years (up until then he had lived with his parents). From the mid-1950s he had always described himself as “manufacturer” like his father. However from after Leo’s death he henceforth gave his profession as “manager.”

Robert had moved to Main Road, Paerata near Pukekohe, around 1978, and then to Paerata Road by 1981 – where he had clearly left the ice cream gig for good, and was now in the gardening business. He passed away in October 2011, seemingly taking the history of Harts Ice Cream with him. They did have at least one child so perhaps one day someone will see this article and add some information to it. It would be nice also to have any kind of advertisement, to add to the story for interest.

At the back of a car park, that takes up most of the area fronting onto the street at numbers 150-156 Greenlane Road today- there is still a modest mid-century house, now an office, next to an older-style, slope-roofed building. No doubt this was once the factory where the Harts made cold, creamy treats for nearly forty years.

Credits: Thanks to Karen Ruane from The New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers’ Assn (Inc), http://www.nzicecream.org.nz/, and also Chris Newey from Foodworks On-line – the New Zealand Food & Beverage Directory http://www.foodworks.co.nz/
All content of Longwhitekid copyright Darian Zam © 2013. All rights reserved.

  1. This is very interesting. Let’s hope someone knows a bit more or has some pics of this ice cream

  2. I lived at 156 Greenlane Road from 1956 -1958 when I was a boy of 9 – 11. 156 was Greenlane Stationers with the accomodation above and behind the shop, It was built in 1923. Hart’s factory was right behind us and some of the staff used to be generous with the company product for both me and my dog! I remember all the shops around Greenlane Road at the time, and in most cases who ran them. If this kind of info is of interest to anyone I am happy tell what I remember or answer specific questions if I can. By the way right across the road was the ‘Victory’ picture theatre, and I guess Hart’s Ice Cream was sold there, but that’s one detail I can’t remember specifically. In those day’s Hart’s opposition used to be Tip Top, Cream Craft and Robinsons (may have been sold as Robbies.) I can’t say I remember Mr.Hart, but I think my father knew him.

    • Thanks Neil for your interesting memories. I have well over two hundred ice cream brands in my database and Cream Craft is a new one for me.

    • Hi I am a niece of the late Leo Hart and I can still remember queueing at the van at the Buckley Road shops It used to be the Buckland Road Shops in Epsom. It was delivered every week on a Friday in the Fish van and came in a blue cardboard container with a pink hart. The only flavours I remember were Vanilla and Neapolitan.

  3. Hi. Thank you for the story about Leo Hart. He features in the memories of fellow Herald Islander’s who remember his shop and about “Hart’s Ice Creams” that he sold here. Margret

    • Thanks Margret for your comment. Interesting to find out he had a dairy there.

      • Hello. Would you be able to email me about his Pine Island/Herald Island ownership that you write about, please? Mr Hart owned the ‘corner shop’, known as Hart’s Store which he sold to Mrs Evelynne Dadley. I am also interested in the Central Store, that building which still exists half-way down Ferry Parade, some 600 metres from Hart’s shop. Thanks.

  4. Hi Margret, I know nothing more about it apart from what was written in the article in which he acquired the Central Stores (Pine Island) in the late 1940s-early 1950s. The record which will have more details can be accessed at the New Zealand Archives. I think if you go into their offices personally you can look at it for free.

    • HELLO. I am writing to ask if you have seen the packaging for, or written about COURTS CANDIES OF DUNEDIN. Yesterday, I saw the inside of a lid of a cardboard çhocolate box’that had a rural scene of a cow, can’t remember the rest. Thanks. Margret

      • Hi Margret, Court was made by Phoenix & Co, primarily a biscuit company – the earliest record I have for them is making cookies in the decade of the 1900s. Court was a subsidiary brand. Court made toffee and chocolate that I know of, and the latest mention by a reader is Cinnamon Bars they made in the 1960s, apparently well-loved by Dunedinites and fondly remembered. In 1934 they merged with the UK Mackintosh Caley Co, until 1961. Most people will remember the business as the big factory Mackintosh Caley Phoenix (MCP) as many people worked there over the years. It was made up of Mackintosh’s/Caley’s, Kingsland’s, Murray’s, amd Court/Phoenix. Later the company was bought by Aulsebrook’s and renamed AB Consolidated. Again many people recall working there that have commented and it was around until 1976 or 1979, when it was shut down and operations moved to the Aulsebrook’s factory in Auckland. So that’s what hapopened to Court and a few other brands! I am very interested in seeing this lid which sounds like the inside display of a point-of-sale counter box. Where was it? Thanks.

      • A wonderful reply. You are very clever and passionate about your interest. I was visiting a couple in east Auckland, me from the west!, and in this lady’s memorabilia from her mother was a bunch of papers inside this carton. It was a delightful bucolic scene. She didn’t know what it was and just before it was closed I could see the word at the bottom, ‘Dunedin’. Tomorrow, I’ll ask myhusband to email her husband … and pass on your news. I did tell her that there was this wonderful website’that would either have already provided research on Courts, or would like to see a picture of the çarton’. Long may you continue with your profound interest. Thanks. Margret Brands.

      • Thank you Margret, I have run across very little Court stuff so I would be very interested to see it! PS also from West Auckland where I was born.

  5. I worked at Harts Ice Cream in the 1960’s for a short time. Leo Hart originally started making Ice cream in the back of his dairy to sell to the patrons of the picture theatre across the road. And as you say he expanded building the factory behind the dairy and then built his home next to the factory. At the time I worked there Bob ( Robert ) and Shirley lived with his parents. Leo didn’t work in the factory but spent a lot of time there. Shirley also only worked there when we were busy. They had the sole rights to sell ice cream to Auckland Zoo and they also had regular specials through IGA stores. As it was a small factory it was labour intensive. As they were always trying to come up with novelties to compete with the big boys They made chocolate coated ice cream heart shaped on a stick, chocolate coated, real apple juice ice blocks, choc bombs and a very popular and cheap multi coloured milk ice block the same shape as the choc bomb. We also made an ice block in the shape of a teddy bear but it caused a lot of problems in the manufacturing stage as they were not very thick and the stick often floated before they froze properly meaning the ice block would fall off the stick. As I remember the demise of Harts Ice cream was when Tip Top took control of the East Tamaki Dairy Company which supplied the raw materials to Harts and then the price of those materials got too high to continue. Which was probably the same for Meadow gold, Cream Craft and Peter Pan ice cream.

    • Thanks for all this really interesting information, Leo! Meadow Gold was gone long before that as it was turned into Wall’s by Unilever. And Peter Pan had an entirely different story of corporate buyouts and takeovers that brought about its demise very quickly in the late 1970s. In the end it came down to basically three main companies, Frozen Products Ltd, Peter Pan and Tip-Top who divided up every other smaller company between them; a matter of who got there first. Of course the latter came out the victor in the end by gobbling up all the others. Frozen Products’ Gaytime brand was relaunched under Tip-Top/General Foods and survived for a while, but nothing made it out of Peter Pan products. It’s always interesting to look at the remnants of what has survived from former brands, sometimes as lower price point lines or just the original product name, for example Joy Bars which were originally made by Snowflake, then contracted out to different companies for a while. It ended up in Tip-Top’s hands and ended up being one of their most successful products. For a recent anniversary they brought it back as a limited edition and the response was so great it has stayed; thus the Joy Bar remains on the market today (even though it was foolishly canned for a time).

  6. Hi.
    I worked for Harts Ice Cream the same time as Leo Wilson. It was my first job when I left high school. Great crew to work with and I could tell you few stories but to long to put here at the moment.
    Nice to read the history of some of the places that were around at that time.

  7. Hi. When I worked for Harts Ice cream one of the company reps was Barry Donaven ( not sure of the spelling) I think when he left the company he purchased the Mercer Hotel. Another rep was Keith Woodcock who bought West End Takeaways.

  8. My family were the final residents of 154 before it got demolished.

    I lived at 154 Greenlane East Rd from 1990-1998 (5-13 years old). My dad ran a music shop and recording studio out of that location (the premises was two stories, shop on lower level, living quarters upper level). My mum also ran a recycle boutique there at one time (Label Crazy). While we no longer lived there after the summer of 98/99, my dad and his business associate continued to use the place as a storage location for audio and lighting equipment until the early 2000s.

    We had always heard that the building had been part of one of New Zealand’s first Ice Cream parlours. Interesting to see the findings here!

    – Willem

  9. Thanks for adding another later piece of the history!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: