Home' Greymouth Star : September 12th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
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Veda Cuff, known by her patrons as Granny, has
run the Mawheraiti pub that sits right on the
edge of State highway 7, for the past 15 years,
having made the move from Canterbury where
she had been working in a restaurant.
“I thought if I was doing it for wages, I might as well
do it for myself,” Ms Cuff said.
At the time, the only places she could afford were on
the West Coast, and in the end it came down to either
the Mawheraiti or Ngahere pubs. Now, in 2015, both are
“I had five minutes to make up my mind, because
someone else wanted to buy Ngahere and I had first dibs.
I chose Mawheraiti. I made the right decision.”
She chose Mawheraiti because of “the feel of the old
“It was nice, it had a big dining room — because I was
Before long she was well in business.
“I’d been here two weeks and wow, I had the place
packed with the Golden Bay Duck Hunters. They used
to come down every year. I’m still friends with a lot of
them. We had a lot of fun and laughter.”
While the Mawheraiti did not have the pull of the
big towns, it made up for it with its friendly and social
atmosphere: “It ’s just a local’s watering hole”.
These days the pub is one of the few remnants of a
more vibrant time in the little settlement at the top of
the Grey Valley. The school, hall, and store have all fallen
by the wayside, and soon the pub will follow.
“It’s all that ’s left of Mawheraiti — the school, the
Post Office, everything is gone now. But the time comes
when you can’t do it.”
From 1920 to 1940, the area had three sawmills and a
population of about 200; these days it is about 80.
Ms Cuff has run the
pub on her own but that
has become more difficult
as she has grown older.
Tasks like changing the
taps on beer kegs are
more of a struggle now,
but she shows no sign of
“ Dare I say it, I’m getting
too old to do the job,” she
laughs. “ There are jobs I
can’t do that have to be done — and I’ve been lucky, I’ve
had good health — because it is full on.”
Rex Crook has lived just across the road from the
Mawheraiti pub for 55 years.
“ If you ask my wife Margaret she’d say it has been too
close at times,” he said.
Over that time he has seen five different publicans
behind the bar — Sailor Hill, Barney Tremain, Zane
Darrell, Don Smith and Veda.
“Someone said ‘you should buy it’ and I said ‘I think I
have, over the years!’”
He recalled it was Don Smith who changed the name
to the ‘Mawheraiti Hotel’. Until then it was Batiras
Hotel, named after the publican at the time — and it
seems some names are hard to erase.
“On my DB dockets it’s still trading as Batiras,” Ms
Despite its old-world look, the pub has not always been
on State highway 7, having been moved there from the
nearby Adamstown Valley in 1909.
“ When alluvial gold was running out, they were
allowed to move a liquor licence a mile a year, and they
moved it from the other side of the Little Grey bridge to
here,” Mr Crook said.
At the new site in 1928 the pub was partially destroyed
by fire, and was rebuilt that year.
As you sit inside the pub nowadays you can hear each
car passing by, just a few steps outside the door — the
bigger the vehicle, the bigger the noise.
“A big truck goes past and it blows the door open,” Ms
But in the history of the pub there has only been one
car accident (non-injury) — despite being situated on
a State highway with a 100kph speed limit and a blind
Ms Cuff does not yet have a definite date to close but
the liquor licence expires in April and she will not be
The changing economic landscape of the West Coast
has already forced her to scale back operations; she now
opens from Wednesday to Sunday and no longer ser ves
her ‘famous’ roasts.
A “granny roast ” was something to enjoy in its time, Mr
“ You wouldn’t have got a better roast anywhere else in
the world. ”
The door on the old Mawheraiti Hotel shudders
whenever a big truck drives past, but soon it will be
firmly shut as the hotel prepares to close for good.
NICHOLAS McBRIDE has a poke around the old
pub at the top of the Grey Valley.
Pint at Mawheraiti
It’s all that ’s left of Mawheraiti
the school, the Post Office,
everything is gone now.
PICTURES: Nicholas McBride
Veda Cuff outside the Mawheraiti Hotel
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