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Hikutaia local Bill Quinn outside the Pioneer Tavern which the community is hoping to buy. PHOTO: TERESA RAMSEY

Last call to purchase Hikutaia pub

The discussion to buy a pub began over a beer.
But it wasn’t just idle talk, and it wasn’t just any pub – it was the Pioneer Tavern in Hikutaia, and for almost a year its patrons had gone without their local watering hole, without their “social hub”.
With the ‘For Sale’ sign out the front, and with a desire to make the building a local asset, a group of locals banded together and thought: let’s have a go.
Now, they are “well on the way” to buying the Pioneer Tavern for the community.
In April, 2022, publicans Ray and Suzanne Waite put the beloved pub on the market, after “spoiling” the Hikutaia community with good service for almost 30 years, Hikutaia local Bill Quinn told The Profile.
“The property was on the market for about five years, and everyone thought someone was going to buy it and carry it on, but if they didn’t, everyone said: ‘We should buy it as a community’ but nobody actually did anything.
“Then it sold and didn’t open as a pub, and everyone said: ‘Oh, we should have bought it”.
Bill said as soon as the tavern came back on the market, a small group of locals decided to either “talk about it and regret it” or “take action and have a go”.
“So, that’s what we’re doing,” Bill said, “we’re having a go.”

They’ve established Hika Lands Ltd – a registered company – and community members and interested parties can purchase shares, with 800 shares of $1000 required to purchase the pub.
While Bill didn’t have a “definitive figure” as to how many shares they’d acquired, he said they were “well on the way to being able to complete the project”.
“By the end of [this] week, we either go ahead or we pull the pin, and if we go ahead, there’s still opportunity for shareholding investments to go forward, longer term, but we’ve got to be in the race,” he said.
Bill calls himself the “project idiot” – stating that it sometimes takes an “idiot” to stand up and make change.
He’s had meetings with the executive staff at Thames-Coromandel District Council and said there was “no reason” why they couldn’t get the pub back to “a full operational social hub for our district”.
“The community buy-in has been brilliant. We can all drive around the country and see empty country pubs everywhere, turning into houses, or just becoming derelict,” Bill said.
“We’ve been without our community hub, our social connection spot, for coming up a year, and people are missing it – that’s the real driver.
“People are suddenly realising how valuable it was now they haven’t got it.”
Bill said he was aware that the pub’s sale had attracted other interested parties, with some looking into the possibility of turning the tavern into a private dwelling.
Hika Lands has a conditional sales purchase agreement in place on the property, which will become unconditional on March 27, if successful in their acquisition of shares.
If a “change of the baton” is initiated, Hika Lands has “phase two” aspirations – upgrading the pub so it becomes a “destination”, with features such as an outdoor big screen, a stage for live music, a hangi pit, and a kids play zone.
Seven hundred shares of $1000 are required for phase two.
“The key thing isn’t about selling a good time, the punch line we’re getting across is to step up now before it is too late,” Bill said. “There’s nobody bank-rolling this, if the community doesn’t step up, it will not happen.”
DETAILS: To register your interest in buying shares for the Pioneer Tavern purchase, contact Bill Quinn on 027 564 5170 or email