In Memory of Ngaire Bailey (nee Keys) 1929-2023

L J Keys early1900s-Auckland-Museum

Remuera Heritage notes with sadness the passing of Ngaire Bailey in January 2023, aged 93. Ngaire was a member of Remuera Heritage and the granddaughter of Leonard John Keys, the first store owner in Remuera.

L J Keys’ “Clonbern Store” on the corner of Remuera Road is one of the oldest local commercial buildings still standing. It was operated by L J Keys for only 7 years but continued as a grocery store until the mid-1960s, with the 30 year period from the mid-1930s as Marriott’s. Albert White, the father of pioneer New Zealand aviation photographer Leo White, ran the grocer’s store for Keys while also growing and selling flowers from an ‘impressive garden’ at home in 4 Woodbine Road in Greenlane. (2)

Leonard John Keys (1880 – 1958) was born in Patea, brought up in the Thames district and then served an apprenticeship in the grocery trade in Auckland. In 1903 he married Sarah Marjory McMaster; the Keys had 3 children, Stan, Basil and Alison.

Mr Keys is remembered particularly for his development of early passenger transport in Auckland’s eastern suburbs. The initiative to move into passenger transport may have evolved from the necessity to deliver goods as part of his grocery business.

In 1915, having moved to St Helier’s Bay, he established a bus service, the first vehicle being a Chase. Known as the “K” buses, the business later became L J Keys Ltd and eventually expanded to a fleet of about 40 buses, which was bought 34 years later in 1949, by the Auckland Transport Board. [1]

Ngaire is survived by children John and Kay, David and Frances, Peter (deceased) and Edna, Susan and Chris, and Chris and Iris, with nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. [2]

[1] L J Keys