Old pub in jeopardy

16:00, Jan 13 2010
Riverhead Tavern
PLENTY OF POTENTIAL: A new owner with a penchant for tourism could be what the Riverhead Tavern needs.

Saving an historic Riverhead icon is an important new goal for Whenuapai resident Malcolm Hahn.

The Riverhead Tavern, which was established in 1857 and sits on the bank of a Waitemata Harbour inlet, is up for mortgagee sale.

"It's absolutely rich in history," says Mr Hahn, about New Zealand's second oldest liquor licence.

Malcolm Hahn
RICH IN HISTORY: Malcolm Hahn of Whenuapai who has written books about the Upper Waitemata Harbour region wants Riverhead to retain its historical icon.

"It's a marvellous and wonderful opportunity for someone to set it up for tourism or possibly include it in a wine trail."

Over the years, many boats have stopped to enjoy the tavern's hospitality.

But the jetty fell into disrepair and has been removed.


"I would like to see the ferries continue going there and the place being used," says Mr Hahn.

"It has been a shock to the district to learn that the tavern has been put into receivership, but with 150 years of rich history, opportunities avail for the tavern's future."

Mr Hahn is already known for his role as founder of the Guardians of the Upper Harbour.

It was formed in the 1980s to tackle sewage pollution problems.

He has seen the harbour transformed from the days "when you wouldn't put your foot in it".

He has also been recognised with several awards.

Mr Hahn says much of the tavern's history is in the "excellent historical book" written by Ian Madden, who died last year.

Called Riverhead, the Kaipara Gateway, it takes the reader through a 150-year story of the tavern, formerly the Riverhead Hotel.

It tells how immigrant settlers used the Upper Waitemata waterways to travel north, including the original Albertlanders, who settled near Wellsford.

For centuries, local Maori used the spot as a portage when travelling north and south dragging their waka across from the Kumeu River to the Rangitopuni River.

Flax milling, gum digging, flour milling, paper manufacturing and forestry all played a part in the development of Riverhead with Riverhead Hotel a popular watering hole.

Mr Hahn enjoys stories about people including the tale of the sole policeman who was determined to catch illegal drinking on the premises. After being observed riding past on horseback, he then doubled back and caught the drinkers red-handed.

However the court case was dismissed because it turned out the particular area where they were drinking was in fact outside the then licensed area.

Norwest News