Stink over sewerage system causes Tangiteroria Tavern to close

By Lindy Laird -
1 comment
Tangiteroria Tavern owner estimates it would cost up to $80,000 to fix sewerage problems. Photo: Michael Cunningham
Tangiteroria Tavern owner estimates it would cost up to $80,000 to fix sewerage problems. Photo: Michael Cunningham

The Tangiteroria Tavern is now the pub with no beer after 90 years of serving locals and travellers between Whangarei and Dargaville.

Owner Sheryl Harrison and her partner, Kerry, made the last drinks call a week ago due to a sewerage disposal problem that Ms Harrison described as "backing me into a corner".

The Tangiteroria Tavern advises any thirsty visitors they will need to look elsewhere. Photo: Michael Cunningham
The Tangiteroria Tavern advises any thirsty visitors they will need to look elsewhere. Photo: Michael Cunningham

She was served with an abatement notice on August 25 by the Northland Regional Council (NRC) because of a failure in the septic tank or drainage system, causing human waste to seep into the nearby Northern Wairoa River.

Ms Harrison has until the end of February to resolve the situation, but she shut up shop rather than invest what she said could be up to $80,000 on a new sewerage system.

Although she is bitterly upset, the old pub has seen better days and more custom and simply isn't worth the expense and struggle to overcome this major hurdle, she said.

NRC regulatory services general manager Colin Dall said the council had investigated after receiving a complaint from a member of the public in June.

The ensuing abatement notice requires the owner to "cease contravening the Resource Management Act".

"How this is achieved is up to the tavern owner and there are several options, [including] installation of a compliant wastewater treatment and disposal system or a holding tank to collect wastewater," Mr Dall said.

Ms Harrison claims the waste matter, including sanitary items, found during the NRC inspection did not come from the tavern.

A drain from the tavern has an easement to cross neighbouring land and ends near the riverbank, about 150 metres away.

Ms Harrison and her partner bought the tavern in 2010. The LIM (land information memorandum) obtained from Kaipara District Council (KDC) stated there was no information available on the sewerage and drainage system.

The couple's lawyer raised the matter with KDC and was told "it was legal", she said.

The LIM also notes the council can not be held responsible for any information that is not up to date.

"Why have a LIM at all, if it's not got the information you need about the land?" Ms Harrison said.

The 1926 Memorandum of Transfer, or title, does not mention waste disposal and the subject was not officially documented until 1986 when then Hobson County Council registered a septic tank on the site.

Ms Harrison said she was unaware of any issues until the NRC officer arrived and told her she had "a very big problem".

The hotel was built in 1926 to accommodate builders of the Tangiteroria bridge across the Northern Wairoa River. Its current licence expires in mid-2017.

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