Hinds Township, 18 kms south of Ashburton has a proud history of cropping and sheep farming. At one time it boasted its own grocer, hairdresser, butcher, seed businesses, drapery, general merchants, insurance office, post office and telephone exchange. Hinds businesses nowadays number less and resident numbers have settled around 200.
One business still going strong is the Hinds Convenience Store. In the 1980’s it was owned and operated as a 4 Square Store by John and Noeline Clarke. Wanting to put Hinds “on the map,” Noeline decided in 1987 to have a large mural of the South Island painted on the store front wall. The idea worked so well that for 20 years, vehicles stopped so drivers and passengers could have their photo taken beside it at the Hinds 4 Square Store.
The mural was painted by Reverend Craig Dixon, at that time the Vicar of Hinds Parish. Although just recently arrived, he was already well known and liked. Driving around in a Fiat Bambina fitted with large polystyrene Angel Wings, he caused many a travelling motorist to have an unnerving experience as they came across him and his “angel car” on the state highway between Hinds and Ashburton. As well as all this, Craig was also a talented artist.
In 1987 farming in the district was centered on sheep, cropping with some grape and berry growing, but dairying as it is today, was unheard of.
Over the years, the store has changed hands but the mural has remained on the front wall.
In December 2015 Noeline, now Deacon of the Hinds Parish, retired as auditor for the Lions Club of Hinds & Districts, a position held since 1984. By coincidence the mural was discussed in a conversation with Lions Club Secretary Graeme Hathaway. Noeline saw a need to include dairying on the mural and Graeme saw an opportunity to recognise Noeline’s 31 years of service.
Reverend Craig was contacted through the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch and readily agreed to update the mural for Noeline and use the occasion to catch-up with past parishioners and friends in Hinds.
On Friday 11th March 2016, watched by 20 Hinds Parishioners and 6 Lions members, Craig added “cows” to the mural.
Although Deacon Noeline had not wanted any recognition, at the following lunch reception, she received a Certificate of Appreciation from Lions President David Keeley and a bouquet of flowers from his wife Ruth. Reverend Craig received a Certificate of Appreciation and gift vouchers. This had been a wonderful occasion for the Hinds Lions to thank Deacon Noeline, for Craig to fulfil her wish and also have the chance to catch-up with friends he had made whilst Vicar of Hinds Parish.
This article was written by Graeme Hathaway, Secretary of the Lions Club of Hinds & Districts Inc.