Good times at the Oki recalled

End of an era for historic tavern

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 06:38 20/06/2014
 Gavin and Evelyn McLea
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

FOND MEMORIES: Renwick couple Gavin and Evelyn McLean have lots of stories to tell about the Okaramio Tavern and are sad to see it go.

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The demolition of Okaramio Tavern - or the Oki - has triggered many fond memories for Renwick man Gavin McLean.

The 109-year-old tavern, in the Kaituna Valley near Havelock, was sold to Okaramio farmer Jason Barnett two months ago through a mortgagee sale. Barnett plans to tear down the building tomorrow after salvaging what was left of the crumbling pub.

McLean said yesterday he had many great times at the tavern with his mates.

"There was lots of drinking involved and lots of pool competitions too . . . it used to be a really good social pub.

"We [the regulars] used to go on pub crawls and go and play golf and cricket."

They would also go on fishing trips down the West Coast.

McLean lived in Okaramio with his parents when he was young and was first introduced to the tavern life at a young age, he said.

"I started going there when I was about 15 and I am now 45. I've always loved the Oki - it will be sad to see it go."

McLean remembers the pub's first pig hunting competition, which he helped organise.

"It was huge."

He and his wife Evelyn also celebrated their 40th birthdays at the tavern.

"I had it there because it was a place I spent a lot of time and it was close to home.

"It's been around for a long time and it's sad that it has come to this . . . 100 years of history being pushed down with a digger."

McLean remembered a few stories also involving his cousin Philip Blaylock, but decided they are best not published.

One story that stood out was a man riding through the front door of the tavern on his motorbike and parking alongside the bar before revving the bike and burning a hole in the floor.

The pub always had a great atmosphere and was filled with people, McLean said.

"I didn't live at the pub but I spent a bit of time there . . . me and my mates would go there every Friday and Saturday night for a few beers.

"They were fun nights and got really good crowds.

"The memories are all good ones."

He had watched the pub change over the year, from an average country pub with a veranda, the veranda removed at one stage, to club-type bar with stripper poles.

The tavern had 20-odd owners since the 1970s and it continued to trade until about six months ago.

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- The Marlborough Express

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