Guest rooms in a hotel were left fouled with dog, sheep and human excrement as a family feud escalated before the pub closed.
Linda McCullough, the niece of Manakau Hotel owner Adrienne Powell, ran the Horowhenua pub for about six months before it was trashed, and guest rooms were strewn with animal and human excrement a couple of days before she left, around Christmas.
Sergeant Marty Bull said the matter was referred to police, who understood there had been a big "leer-up" that got out of control. Police advised Mrs Powell that it was a civil matter.
A pub patron contacted The Dominion Post and said a lamb had been running around the bar in nappies, and it and two dogs were kept in upstairs rooms, later found littered with excrement.
The man, who did not want to be named, said animal and human urine and faeces were left on bedding and linen.
"The kitchen was a mess, there were big trays of mouldy food, swear words scratched into the old woodwork. With a sheep running around with a nappy on its bum, and the dogs and sheep pooing upstairs in the guest rooms, it was unbelievable, the smell was shocking," he said.
Mrs Powell said "an almighty tidy-up" was now under way, and the old country pub, built in 1887, should be reopened within about six weeks.
She said a nappy containing lamb excrement was found after her niece left, and she believed two dogs had been kept in upstairs rooms.
"We smelt the urine, the police said it smelt like animals," she said. The gardens were left in an appalling state.
Mrs McCullough signed a lease to run the hotel, agreeing to a raft of conditions including maintaining the interior of the building and the grounds.
Mrs Powell said some carpets were left so stained they had to be thrown out. About 30 crates of empty bottles were left behind and a big canvas sack of empties. The hotel was in a "reasonable" state when her niece took over running it, but Mrs Powell she was still cleaning up the mess left behind and had had to replace beds, bedding and carpets.
Under the lease agreement, it was the leaseholder's responsibility to take care of rubbish collection, cleaning, maintenance and repair charges.
Tensions between the niece and her aunt over the running of the hotel escalated when Mrs Powell arranged for someone to secretly take photos of the goings on. The photographer was spotted and ordered off the property.
The Dominion Post tried to contact Mrs McCullough for comment, and visited a property she was renting. A reporter and photographer were told to leave.
Mrs Powell, who has owned the hotel for seven years, was adamant the "grand old lady" would reopen.
"It is the local hotel, used by many old families for many years," she said.
She had replaced the bedding and was carrying out a major cleanup and some long-planned renovations.
Regulars are keen for the pub to reopen.
"The old fellas miss their watering hole," the patron said. "They are pissed off. They want to have a couple of jugs at night before they go home."
- The Dominion Post