Last round at a Kaikohe landmark

By Peter Jackson

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DOWN SHE COMES: Jeff Smith says there will be one last round of drinks before the Kaikohe Hotel comes down. PHOTO/DEBBIE BEADLE
DOWN SHE COMES: Jeff Smith says there will be one last round of drinks before the Kaikohe Hotel comes down. PHOTO/DEBBIE BEADLE

Jeff Smith, who has the job of "deconstructing" the old Kaikohe Hotel, had hoped to organise a final send-off this week, with karakia and one last round of drinks across the old bar before it was dismantled.

That was to be accompanied by the auctioning of some bits and pieces overlooked by the looters, all proceeds going to St John in Kaikohe.

The plan was to open the bar at 3pm and close at 6pm, like it used to in the days of the six o'clock swill, but Jeff's had to go to Plan B.

All the relevant authorities - police, fire, OSH - were happy enough, but the idea ran counter to the non-drinking policy of Te Runanga-a-Iwi o Ngapuhi, which now owns the property.

Jeff's come up with a Plan B, however. Members of the community will be invited to a venue outside the hotel's fenced area on August 8 for a final farewell/blessing, to be conducted by Mayor John Carter or Cr Sally Macauley, followed by an auction and drinks until 6pm, at the RSA or a venue closer to the site, yet to be confirmed.

Tickets will be pre-sold only at $20, each ticket holder being entitled to nibbles, three drinks and admission to the auction. Tickets available at Maypark Print and Hidden Treasures.

The chain of events that finally led to the demolition of the grand old lady of Kaikohe, a landmark in the main street for more than a century, began with the Far North District Council ordering its closure because the sprinkler system had not been connected, creating a fire risk for its residents.

Shortly after the last publican left the metal hunters, souvenir collectors and street kids moved in, trashing, breaking and stealing whatever they could. Now the newer part of the building (the original part was built in 1894) has gone, much of the materials being sold, with 25 per cent of the proceeds going to non-government-funded community organisations.

Contractor Ken Rintoul said the profit margin could have been boosted by $50,000 if a digger had been used to "smash everything up," but this way some of the money was staying in the area. His contract also dictated only local people could be employed in the deconstruction.

- Northern Advocate

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