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Once fit for a queen, now a wreck

Last updated 08:55 23/01/2013
Kaikohe Hotel

SAD STATE: The boarded up Kaikohe Hotel has community members lamenting the decline of what once was a ‘‘real grand old lady’’.

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The boarded up Kaikohe Hotel on Broadway has saddened many Far North residents.

A former Kaikohe resident says that to see the Kaikohe Hotel - "that poor old girl" - in the state of disrepair it is in today is sad, given its bustling past.

"It was a wonderful hotel in its day, it really was," Karen Fletcher says.

She says she knew that the building would be boarded up eventually, "I knew it had to happen.

"It's so sad to see it."

An order for the hotel to be evacuated came this month after Justice Kit Toogood in Whangarei agreed with the Far North District Council that it posed a risk to life.

Ms Fletcher says that her father, Colin McKenzie, moved the family up from Auckland in the 1950s to take over what was then a "buzzing" business.

It employed a lot of people in its day, she says - cooks and cleaning staff - and in her teenage years the building was a very busy place.

Ms Fletcher recalls the Queen stopping in for a stay as well as other dignitaries.

When her father took over the hotel people heading north to Kaitaia would be unable to make the journey in a day and would pull in to the hotel for the night. And the hotel was full with regulars.

"It was a beautiful hotel, it was buzzing, the occupancy rate was really high - commercial travellers would come up during the week and we were fully occupied, and in the weekends the big tour buses came up and we were full of tourists.

"To see that poor old girl go like it has is sad for me."

She can still see the room above the pub that served as her bedroom in her teenage years, when she attended Northland College, and says she wants people to know that the Kaikohe Hotel was once a "real grand old lady".

"Everything has changed."

Her father would be "turning in his grave if he saw it now", she says.

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