Michael Fowler’s Historic Hawke’s Bay
The scoop on classic Bay ice e cream
One of Hawke’s Bay’s classic brands of ice cream was Blue Moon — and many can still recall the original business started by Mr Delaney, which had its 1938 beginnings in a small dairy in Heretaunga St East.
The business was moved to a shop across the road in 1941 by the next owner, Wilson Hazelwood (1912-1991). When Tom McAvinue (1894-1965) bought the dairy in 1947, he expanded it to include an ice cream garden and goldfish pond, making the ice cream at the back of his shop.
A company separate to the Blue Moon Dairy and ice cream garden was formed in 1949 to expand the Blue Moon ice cream manufacturing business. It had 17 shareholders, with Edwin Bate as chairman. The company secretary was Harold Carr.
The Blue Moon Dairy was sold to Bruce Hastie in 1957, and he immediately increased the opening hours and added new products, such as sundaes and milk drinks. Bruce later added a coffee bar, one of the first in the area.
In addition to increasing the product offering, Bruce attributes his successful business to “cleanliness, customer service and well-trained staff”.
In 1962 Bruce had a visit from Harold Carr, who wanted to know if he would like to buy into the manufacturing ice cream business of Blue Moon.
“Yes” said Bruce, “but only if I buy the whole company.”
The shareholders agreed to sell him the whole business. The manufacturing side of it soon expanded, so Bruce bought a section in a newly developed industrial area in Havelock North, with street frontage to Karanema Drive. He opened Blue Moon’s ice cream factory there in 1966. Agents were appointed in Gisborne, Manawatu and Taranaki for his products.
Bruce himself created new ice cream flavours (of which there were 30), such as Turkish coffee, damson (plum flavoured), and coconut ice and cherry. Other products included soft-serve ice cream. Chocolate bombs were made, and ice blocks under the brand Star Pops.
The ice cream market was extremely competitive, especially from Tip Top and Peter Pan, so he ensured he had a top-quality product. Ice cream was sold in one, two, four, five, 10 and 16-litre packs.
Another wing to the building was added to provide more refrigerated space (the area is now occupied by Acme Supplies).
In June 1976, Hawke’s Bay hosted its first and only ice cream conference at the DB Te Mata in Havelock North (now Mary Doyle Lifecare). All the big players were there, including Tip Top Ice Cream and Wattie’s.
Havelock North Mayor Jeff Whittaker opened the conference, which had three Hawke’s Bay representatives: Rush Munro, Denne’s (Peter Pan Ice Cream) and Blue Moon. (Rush Munro’s is the only one remaining.) One of the topical issues was the decline in sales of bulk ice cream. A strategy the conference came up with was to promote ice cream parlours to enable growth of cone sales.
In 1984 Bruce Hastie was president of New Zealand Independent Ice Cream Manufacturers and vicepresident of New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers. It was also in 1984 that he received an approach from Devon Dairy Products in Tauranga to buy the business. The Havelock North factory would service the lower North Island and Devon’s Tauranga base the upper North Island. Bruce sold but, sadly, Devon’s new venture ended within a year and the Blue Moon brand disappeared.
Thanks to Bruce Hastie and Steve Manning (Lick This Ice Cream Parlour, Napier) for the information in this story.
"Bruce added products such as sundaes and milk drinks and later a coffee bar"
LEFT: The beaut ice cream Blue Moon produced took a whole lot of licking in Hawke’s Bay for decades.
ABOVE: The Blue Moon ice cream factory was situated in Karanema Drive, Havelock North.
COOL BUSINESS: This is one of two Blue Moon trucks that serviced Napier and Hastings.