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Society Visit to the historic Taheke Hotel, 9 June 2012
updated - 23 September 2014
Contact:
Hokianga Historical Society

Website designed, installed and maintained by :
Ken Baker, Brussels, Belgium
The event on Saturday 9th June was the visit to the historic Taheke Hotel.   
It rained – of course – but that didn’t stop the forty-odd people who filled the private bar until we had to shift
into the larger public bar instead.   In spite of requesting numbers ahead of time so we could arrange for lunch,
people just came anyway - but the hotel really rose to the occasion and (Hokianga-style) turned it into a real
party.   We can’t thank those people enough.  
A number of local families turned up, with  kaumatua  from Taheke and Waima there to keep us in line
regarding their history, and rightly so.   But it was the hotel’s story we were looking for, and that threw up
some interesting complications regarding records.
There are a couple of architecture-students’ theses which state that the building dates from the 1840s, but so
far we haven’t found any data to verify such an early start.   Stuart Park (NZHPT) had been following up land
transaction records and came armed with what is likely to be the earliest drawing (below) of the building as it
was in 1875, when Thomas Hudson registered the land with Judge Maning through the Native Land Court in
Hokianga.   Hudson was not the earliest publican, though: the Auckland Provincial Council records from at least
1871 a Bush License  granted to a resident of Te Taheke named Eruhiri (or, as Stuart Park interpreted it on the
drawing below, Eruhori).   Eruhiri / Eruhori continued as a Bush License holder until 1874, then in 1875 it
passed to Thomas Hudson.    
By this time the Government land-buyers and surveyors were sniffing around and Taheke, at the head of a
navigable river, was a very useful place to stay, either in transit or as a base to work from.  ‘Roving reporters’
writing for Auckland newspapers during the 1870s, each described their time there.  
Tracing ownership in the early years was relatively straightforward, but we found discrepancies cropped up as
time went on between the names Stuart had on his list of land ownership, and what could be picked up from
Post Office Directories and newspaper advertisements. It seems a hotel can be owned by one person or group
and managed by another, with the publican’s license possibly held by yet another.   And at times Taheke was in
this confusing state.   We were lucky to have Graham and Elsie Harbrow returning for a visit in their
retirement.  Stuart had them down as owning the hotel for ten years, but in reality they’d been in charge there
for 17 – managing it for the first seven years for the owner, Dominion Breweries.    DB then subdivided the
property and they bought the hotel outright, passing ownership on in 1997 to Rehu and Margaret Pikari.
Heather Ayrton brought along two gems from slightly earlier times which she read to us – the first, some very
lively boyhood memories from photographer Peter Peryer whose parents managed the hotel in the 1940s.   He
spoke of lying at night in his bedroom up in one of the gables, with the wallpaper rustling scarily whenever the
wind blew….  Heather’s second came from a book she owned by Group-Captain Peter Townsend (remember
Princess Margaret’s first love?) who had embarked on a world trip in the 1960s after the break-up, included NZ
in his itinerary and described his stay in – you guessed it – Taheke Hotel!
It may not be as historic as some would like to claim and as Stuart observed (quietly) it doesn’t have anything  
left of its original fittings to speak of – but after 140 + years it’s still going strong and its welcome is just as
warm as it ever has been.   1840s or not, it’s definitely historic!    Thanks to all who attended, members or not;
especially to all those who contributed. – and a very grateful thanks to the hotel’s staff for all their care.
                                                                                                          Commentary: Alexa Whaley
______________________________________________
Stuart’s findings are now on file in the Museum.
Drawing of the location of the Taheke Hotel in 1875
Source: Hokianga Museum & Archives
The Taheke Hotel (Tavern) in 2010
Source: Mid North Real Estate, Kaikohe
The Taheke Hotel in 1947.  Source: Bryan Peryer whose family
formerly managed the Hotel
(link)
Note:  Since we originally published this page, we have had interest from the Peryer family - Bryan and Peter, whose
family managed the Hotel between 1946 & 1948.  They have provided several of the photos reproduced below.
The Taheke Hotel circa 1882
Source: Bryan Peryer whose family formerly managed the Hotel
The Taheke Hotel in 1946 - note the coach house
Source: Bryan Peryer whose family formerly managed the Hotel
Hokianga History and Memorabilia