Michael is a poet, publisher and bookseller at Kākāriki Books on the train platform, who has lived in Paekākāriki for more than twenty years. He came up from Dunedin and was living in ‘a pretty horrible’ old house in Wellington when his friend Moana saw a place in Paekākāriki that seemed a similar distance from the city as he had known in Seacliff. Michael O’Leary has now written a history of rail in Paekākāriki too.
“The difference was the beach you could swim at and a train every half hour – at that stage every hour. It always appealed to me as a place when I’d gone past on the train between Auckland and Dunedin. I’ve been in various places around Paekākāriki: I’m lucky I’ve got good landlords and they like me being there. I started out having a bookshop in the old post office, Pukapuka Books. Everywhere I go I seem to have a bookshop…. I knew that this space here was not going to be used much so I had the idea of maybe turning it into a bookshop. I wrote a short history of Paekākāriki because although there were so many bloody writers in Paekākāriki no-one had written the history of the place. The railway station building was saved from demolition by the local community and I wanted to acknowledge that.”