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Tavern buyers still call Tiniroto home

Childhood memories of taking fish and chip orders to shearing gangs played a part in brothers Gavin and Robert Cameron’s decision to buy the Tiniroto Tavern.

Playing rugby with an empty Coca-Cola bottle on the tavern’s front lawn also feature among the Cameron brothers’ memories, but a more compelling reason inspired them to buy the property.

“We’re doing it purely for the community,” says Gavin Cameron. “We hope the community support the tavern. We want it to pay its way and we’d be happy with that.

“Our intent is to eventually get back to Tiniroto,” says Mr Cameron. “We left in the mid ‘90s to do our butchers’ apprenticeships in Wellington.”

The two men now own three butcher and deli shops in Wellington and have won multiple awards.

The brothers were born and bred in the farming and forestry township and their parents still live across the road from the tavern. Tiniroto is still home, says Mr Cameron. He and Robert return three or four times a year to hunt.

A week before they came home for the Easter pig hunt they heard they had secured the purchase.

The tavern went on the market earlier this year after the tavern’s operator decided not to continue in the role, and the building’s previous owners chose not to seek a new operator.

The tavern is once more a community hub with a pub, cafe, fast food restaurant, post office, civil defence site and home to the Easter hunt.

“Who would have thought 29 years later we would own it? We’re going to build that hub back up again,” says Gavin. “Maybe we can get people going out there for Sunday lunches. It’s a nice drive out there. Guys on motorbikes are forever doing the loop.”

Motorcyclists on a round trip follow the main road past Morere then loop, come back down the inland road and use the tavern as a midway point between Wairoa and Gisborne.

“The first full day it was open we had motorbikes parked on the lawn.”

Before Gavin and Robert Cameron bought the tavern they asked childhood friend Sheree Turnwald and husband Martin if they would like to run it.

Mrs Turnwald’s father owned the tavern for a few years from 1994.

“Martin and I moved here a year later,” says Mrs Turnwald. “We lived here for 11 years then moved back to town for about 12 years and now have come back. We’re loving it. My husband used to work night shifts so he’s loving it. We have the post office, a full takeaway menu and barista-made coffee.”

The tavern’s new publicans have restarted the weekly “handle draw” and recently held a duck hunting season “heaviest duck” competition.

The tavern has always been the hub of the community, says Mrs Turnwald. She and Mr Turnwald manned the pumps only a few days before the community’s Easter hunt.

“We had Saturday then straight into the hunt. It was full on. We got to know a lot of people in a short time.”

COMMUNITY HUB: Former Tiniroto men Gavin and Robert Cameron have bought the township's tavern so it can continue to operate as the community's hub. File picture