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Pouring pints . . . Co-owners Michelle Beri (left) and Lindsay Collins (centre) are pleased to be back behind the bar, in the temporary Waiau Lodge Hotel. PHOTO: DAVID HILL

By DAVID HILL

Waiau community has rallied together to get the local pub back in action, following November’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

While the 107-year-old Waiau Lodge Hotel building remains off limits, a temporary pub building was officially opened by Hurunui Mayor Winton Dalley on Saturday, giving locals a warm place where they can get together for a pint, a meal or watch the rugby.

Co-owner Michelle Beri says she has been amazed by the local support, with people turning up for working bees and one person made a welcome sign from an old cubby hole.

“People have been coming down and saying “well done” and they seem to really like the atmosphere.”

She was excited to see Sky connected on Friday, as it was the first time “I’ve seen television in six months”.

“Sky is not cheap – there is no package deal for a small country pub and I told them we were rebuilding after the earthquake. But people want to have somewhere to go to watch the rugby, so it was important to do it.”

Michelle has been living in a portacom and her business partner Lindsay Collins in an old smoko shed since the earthquake severely damaged the pub, manager’s residence and accommodation facility.

“We were fully covered, except for natural disaster insurance.

“But it’s very exciting to be open – we’ve been operating for two weeks. It’s been quite hectic.”

She says the new bar is fully functional, but it has its challenges due to the lack of space and no large chiller.

“We are running off five domestic freezers and a very small kitchen – but we are providing a full menu.”

The new pub is open daily from 10am until late and offers an all day breakfast.

A marquee will be erected and there is an outdoor area available with a gas heater to provide some extra space and warmth.

Michelle moved to Waiau two years ago, after losing her house in Christchurch in the previous earthquakes.

“I hung on for four years in Christchurch – but this time it’s harder. It’s worse because it’s not just my house, it’s my livelihood. We were offered some other pubs, but if we left Waiau and the pub was never put up again there would be no place for the locals to go.”

To keep up to date, like the Waiau Lodge Hotel Facebook page or call 27-3579886 with queries or to order takeaways.