Historic Ngaruawahia pub for sale

RICH HISTORY: The Waikato Tavern, formerly
the Waipa Hotel, is on the market for
RICH HISTORY: The Waikato Tavern, formerly the Waipa Hotel, is on the market for $680,000.

A late-19th century Ngaruawahia landmark is up for sale.

The former Waipa Hotel, currently called the Waikato Tavern, is on the market for $680,000. The hotel, on State Highway 1 at the northern end of the town, was built in the late 1800s, according to Waikato historian Ann McEwan.

Two-storeyed, with living quarters upstairs and the tavern at ground level, the old hotel is being marketed by Prime Country.

The Waikato Tavern licence dates back to the 1860s but after the original site flooded, the pub was relocated in 1917, said owner-operator John Gillespie.

"New Zealand hasn't got much of a history of old buildings … I've come to respect its heritage."

Gillespie said the hotel has a rich history, hosting Waikato Maori leader Princess Te Puea Herangi among other distinguished guests.

He said some reports place the discussion of the 1946 land settlements between the government and Tainui at the hotel with Princess Te Puea, then-prime minister Peter Fraser and Pei Te Hurinui Jones all present.

Gillespie said that the hotel used to belong to the Myers family, founders of Lion Breweries, from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Gillespie bought the tavern in 1989.

The hotel part of the business was closed by the previous owner in 1974 but Gillespie said he is still regularly asked if there are rooms available.

Gillespie said he renovated the tavern five years ago and there is a gaming room onsite now, offering 18 poker machines.

Despite its age, the building is not heritage-listed with the Waikato District Council, which McEwan said was unusual, and the Historic Places Trust does not have the hotel on its register.

Waikato Times