It’s another world. Take two steps and you’re somewhere else. Just when you think you have seen it all and turn around and surprise! There’s something completely different.
‘The Cave’ has been in its present location for 26 years. Eight years ago Nina and Anna Hammond bought this business from Rob and Karen Reily. Rob and Karen had established something special, and Nina and Anna have continued to expand that tradition.
The Hammond girls lived in Auckland but Kuaotunu was always their holiday destination. Their Dad lived in Thames. The family with three girls could not pitch their tents on the beach so Joe Davis (deceased related to the current Kaumatua, Joe David) invited them to pitch their tent on his property. They did this for 15 years.
The wonderful black and white photo with this article was taken by their Auntie, Marty Friedlander, who was a professional photographer. It is used here with permission – see below. The gulls are wheeling because the fish had just been cleaned and they were swooping on the fish guts.
Most of the product in the store is scoured from overseas. Ubud in Bali is their main shopping destination. Nina says the thought of going to Bali for the first time filled her with dread. “The heat, the humidity, the crowds, I was sure it was not my scene” says Nina. Wrong! She loved it. “The thing I love most is the people. They are so friendly and easy to deal with. Now I love going to Bali”, she says. When you visit Ubud, as Pauline and I have, you are confronted with dozens of gift and clothing shops. “But they are much more than that” Anna told me. “These shops are the front window of whole industries. They sell in large quantities around the world. They are experts in packaging and international trade. They are a pleasure to deal with.” After the years of covid, travel to Bali is now possible again. The sisters are off to Bali soon and watch out Ubud, here they come.
I asked, “Does the product change much for year to year?” Here I was thinking of the clothing lines. “Not much,” Nina told me. It seems that in a holiday atmosphere in a holiday location the customers from out of town want much the same thing from year to year. Sarongs and tropical shirts never go out of style.
Nina and Anna haven’t always been together. In the 80’s, Anna left to see the world. For 20 plus years she visited and lived in some of the planet’s most exotic destinations. And then she came home to the Coromandel. Believe it or not, she was blown away. “This is what I have always been looking for,” she said. “Many people who read this will have made the same discovery.”
PS I had been thinking I could offer to help with stocktaking – not the big, heavy items – I could count the little knick knacks, baubles, curiosities, ornaments, jewellery, trinkets…. Whoops – What am I saying! In my brain I have 93 billion neurons, and 112 billion non- neuronal cells but that is not enough to count all the tiny stuff in The Cave.
THE CAVE – 28 Monk St., Whitianga – next to the Town Hall
Anna and Nina Hammond – 07 866 2574. 021 455 552. 027 4933 319
Caption: Nina and seagulls at the beach in Kuaotunu.
Photo by Marti Friedlander – Aunt of Anna and Nina – Photo courtesy the Gerrard and Marti Friedlander Charitable Trust.