Tavern and patrons set for move
Hamilton's Te Rapa Tavern will be closing its doors permanently next year but if publican Tim Smith has his way there will be no call for last drinks.
He is relocating the famous sports bar to a new site "down the road" after Te Wananga o Aotearoa, the building owner, failed to renew his lease.
It's the end of an era for the tavern, but Mr Smith is looking forward to the move and is determined to take his staff and customers with him.
"I'm going to take everybody," he said. "Everybody who wants to come."
The tavern has been running for 51 years and boasts a wealth of history including 248 items of memorabilia on the walls and in storage.
Every piece will be going to the new new site but he said the real heart of the tavern was the people.
"Second and third generations are drinking here," he said. "It's a sports bar so we don't have bands and we don't have any security. It's just about people."
The move will hit Mr Smith in the pocket but he said it would be worth it to provide a modern facility true to the original tavern and the people who frequented it.
"I don't have any brothers and sisters," he said. "These are my family and I love these boys so for me it's more than just a business. It's a tradition."
"I'm willing to put up the money and I have faith that the people will come and I know we will build the right facility that will be modern but will have the history."
Te Wananga o Aotearoa spokesman Jon Stokes said the tavern was part of the original site purchase and the move had been on the cards for a while.
The wananga wants to redevelop the building to support students' needs and Mr Stokes said a tavern on the doorstep was not an ideal situation.
"It is about providing an environment which is conducive to learning and being associated with organisations that are more appropriate for an education facility," he said.
"We have worked very closely with the tenants of the site in terms of keeping them informed of what is happening and providing them with an appropriate time to find an alternative."