Relish Tea Room in Mana, New Zealand

Written by Harold McNeill on February 22nd, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


“Living your Dreams” is a theme that often appears on many Facebook posts, so Lynn and I are always looking for shining new examples. On our way down the West side of the North Island we stopped for tea at a picturesque little English style ‘tea room’ called the Relish Café. Located in Mana (just north of Wellington) we were met by Allan and Anne McNair, Allan being a brother of our friend, Gill Russell, (see previous Rotorua post). There we shared a few life stories over afternoon tea.

Once again, we found ourselves chatting with a couple who made a complete life change. Only a few years back, the McNairs were running a successful saddlery store which provided a comfortable income and a high degree of security for over 25 years. In addition, Allan was an experienced ferrier. Their two daughters were just finishing school and would soon be off establishing lives of their own.

A few years back, Allan began feeling the need for change – not that he was dissatisfied with his life, it was, after all, a very good life. He just wanted a new challenge and one of his dreams was to run his own restaurant. When he shared his dream with his family his oldest daughter laughed and pointed out: “Dad, you can’t even boil an egg”. Allan reluctantly conceded that point, but was quick to state: “Well then my dear daughter, I will learn.” And, over the next five years learn he did. He and Anne continued to run their saddlery and ferrier businesses, but one day each week Allan worked a full eight hour shift in a local restaurant.

Over the five years of working part time he learned what he thought he needed to know and between them the couple were ready to strike off on their own. They found a lovely little establishment in Mana (just north of Wellington) that was exactly the kind of place they had dreamed about. About one block of the highway, just accross the main South Island Railway was a small restaurant with seating for about thirty-five. A former cottage, the tables were divided into three medium sized rooms. The period furnishings gave each room a cosy warmth and the entire “cottage” was surrounded by a delightful “English Country Garden” just coming into bloom when Lynn and I arrived.

When the deal was finalized, the saddlery business was sold and the family was off on a new life adventure. Two years later, the couple still glow with that sense of adventure that can only be seen on the faces of those who have decided to take a whole new tack (no pun intended) in life. As with others who decided to step outside their ‘comfort zone’, the McNair’s know that boundaries in life are not barriers, they are just challenges and that the world is built on the realization that ‘fairy tales can come true’ (and as the son goes) ‘it could happen to you, when your’re young at heart.’

We finished our tea, bade farewell and with a mist in our eyes about dream’s being realized, we set off to pursue a new grand new adventure in the wilderness that is the South Island of New Zealand.

Mana, NZ
2009

PS I have taken a few liberties with pictures of the Saddlery and Ferrier businesses run by the McNair’s. The pictures might be more in tune with the time of the great grandparents of the McNair’s.

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  • Mike Fedorowich

    September 1, 2023 |

    I have gone through the above noted text and have found it quite informative.
    I am a former member with several law enforcement agencies from across Canada.
    I worked in the First Nations service under the authority of the RCMP with the over sight of the OPP. My law enforcement service was conducted under the authority of the Nishnawbe – Aski Police Service in North West Ontario the Louis Bull Police Sevice in Hobbema AB, the Kitasoo Xaixais Police Service in Northern in side passage on Swindle Island, the Lac Suel Police Service North West Ontario and the Vancouver Transit Authority Sky Train Police Service. I’m presently dealing with an RCMP member for falsifying a report against me for a road rage event. Court case is finished and the charge was dropped but I have an on going complaint with the member and have forwarded to the WATCH DOGS IN OTTAWA FOR the RCMP review and consideration. I believe the said officer is in violation of his oath of office and should be held accountable for falsifying his RTCC all the while dragging me through the court system here in Nanaimo. RCMP continue to stonewall the appeal but Ottawa and the crowns office are still looking into the matter. if your able and find the time or the interest in this very brief introduction, I would very much like to speak with you and would be grateful to hear any wisdom that may come across from your end. I served with First Nations Police Services for ten years in isolation and six years with Transit Police out of New West Minster. I do value and appreciate any time you could spare to chat for a bit on this particular subject matter. Respectfully with out anger but an open mind, Mike Fedorowich Nanaimo BC 250 667 0060

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email: Harold@mcneillifestories.com)

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.