The first hotel on this site was constructed during late-1865 or early 1866 for the owner of Section 180 of Oākura Township, Richard Jury, who was the recipient of the original Crown Grant for the property. The present building on this site was constructed in 1917 for owner Mr James Rothery, with the Licensee at the time being Mr E. A. Meredith. 

The first hotel on this site was a two-storied timber structure clad in horizontal weatherboards and fitted with 12-light double-hung sash windows. The first mention of a publicans' licence being issued for a hotel at Oākura was in April 1866, when a 'Bush Licence' was issued to Richard Jury for the Oākura Hotel. Richard Jury attempted to sell the "10-roomed" hotel in 1870, although it was not sold at that time, with Jury remaining as both owner and publican until selling the property to Richard Grylls in 1875.

In November 1885, the license for the Oākura Hotel was transferred from Grylls to John Searle, although Grylls remained the owner of the property. Searle only held the licence until 1888, when it was transferred back to Grylls. John Searle, upon leaving the Oākura Hotel, opened a boarding house in a building he owned at Oākura. When he applied for a publicans' license for his new enterprise, which was to be called the ‘Kaitaki Hotel’, the building was described as “containing 7 rooms, exclusive of those required for the use of the family”. The building used by Searle was probably located on the southern side of South Road, to the east of the present Butler’s Reef, and is thought to have been removed in 1897.

During 1899, the Oākura Hotel property was sold by Grylls to Alexander Baker, who also took over the publicans' license. Baker only retained ownership until 1901, when it was purchased by J. Smart, who held possession of the hotel until 1912, when he sold it to James Rothery. At the time of Rothery's purchase, the original 1860s hotel was still present on the property; although licensing committee meetings reveal the hotel itself, along with its outbuildings, were in a poor state of repair.

By 1916-17, the condition of the old hotel had become so bad that the licensing committee would only issue a new license if it was agreed that Rothery would construct a replacement hotel on the site. The plans for the new hotel were approved by the licensing committee during September 1916, although construction was delayed a few months, probably owing to the war.

During January 1917, the old hotel was demolished, with a small portion removed to Mr West's property nearby to function as a temporary bar during construction of the new building; it was noted in this article that the hotel being demolished was constructed towards the end of 1865. 

By March 1917, it was reported that the new hotel was nearing completion, with the timberwork complete and the opening only delayed by the paperhangers, who were unable to come out to Oākura to complete the work.

It seems completion was delayed several months, with it being reported that the new hotel was opened sometime during May, with a sale of timber and iron from the old hotel held on May 22nd; it was reported that the salvaged materials reached a good price. The new building was reported as being "much more up-to-date" than the old establishment.

Rothery held ownership of the Oākura Hotel property until his death in 1919, after which time it passed into the possession of his deceased estate, before being sold to F. C. Emeny in 1924. In 1929, ownership of the hotel passed from F. C. Emeny to W. G. Emeny.

Related Information


Butler's Reef, Oakura, Puke Ariki Collection


Oakura Hotel, Puke Ariki Collection


Please do not reproduce these images without permission from Puke Ariki. 
Contact us for more information or you can order images online here.