By DAVID HILL
Michelle Beri says she is determined to restore the historic Waiau Lodge Hotel.
The pub has been out of action since the November 2016 earthquake and her efforts to remain in business have left her “up to my neck in debt”. However, she says she is committed to getting back into the 1910 hotel.
“We have been trying to get it open for accommodation and to move back in,” Michelle says.
“We are committed to Waiau. You’ve got to see things through.”
Michelle and business partner Lindsay Collins moved to Waiau in 2015, after “a rollercoaster” four years in Christchurch after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.
For now, Michelle is sleeping in a portable building, while Lindsay is making his bed in a shed – an arrangement she describes as being “like extended camping”.
Since the 2016 earthquake, Michelle has battled insurance and escalating costs, including erecting a small, temporary building for a tavern.
The business partners have been operating a tavern since May last year and she has been overwhelmed by the support of local people, contractors and visitors to the area.
She has created the Waiau Lodge Hotel Fundraising page on Facebook, and contractors have offered to do “free trading days” in return for a barbecue and drinks.
The Hurunui District Council’s rebuild officer, Chris King, has been “like an angel” in helping Michelle manage unexpected building issues such as asbestos.
She says building assessments indicate the hotel is structurally sound and she hopes to have an idea of restoration costs by February so she can step up her fundraising efforts.
Fundraising ideas include a jumble sale and blade shearing.
But, before then, she has a busy couple of months with the Wonder Rally of social motorcyclists camping out in the paddock behind the hotel from January 11 to 13, the “Hash House Harriers” visiting on January 31, and the South Island Trikers stopping off for a barbecue on February 1.
A cook is employed on Friday evenings. Otherwise, Michelle and Lindsay keep the tavern running with the help of volunteers, including her sister and brother-in-law.
To keep up to date, follow the Waiau Lodge Hotel Facebook page or call (027) 3579886 with queries.