Te Aute Hotel changes hands
By Hilary Pedersen
Staff reporter, Waipukurau
Another era started yesterday for Ivan and Eileen Conroy, new owners of the Te Aute Hotel.
The Hastings couple have taken over from the Allan family and they are “bubbling over” with enthusiasm and ideas for their new venture.
They are ﬁrst-time hotel owners, although they have had some experience in the hospitality industry.
While Mr Conroy planned to continue in his current position as transport manager for Roadair, and help out at night, it will be a complete change of lifestyle for his wife who will run the hotel with their daughter Ranea.
Mrs Conroy has worked for the Justice Department for 16 years, the last seven as a clerk at the Maori Land Court.
The Conroys saw the potential for the Spanish Mission-style hotel to become a focal point in the community, as well as being ideally situated to capture passers-by.
Spanish Mission architecture is identified by the twisted “barley sugar” columns which can be seen at the hotel.
First they intend to redecorate the interior in keeping with the period in which it was built, as well as develop the extensive lawn into a picnic area and do up the garden.
They were also keen to pick up on Hawke’ s Bay history, evisaging [envisaging] a trail walk to the nearby Te Aute Store and museum.
The hotel was the second on the site and was built by the Hart family in 1936 after its predecessor was burnt down.
Charles Hart took over the first hotel in 1929, according to information gathered by Te Aute Store owner and historian Kay Highwood. The Harts owned it until 1973, when they sold it to the breweries.
The ﬁrst building on the site was a boarding house, started in 1856 by William Ellingham and Mere Kupa.
The pair then started the ﬁrst hotel and were granted a bush licence in 1865. The bush licence was the forerunner of a hotel licence.
Their boarding house predated the Te Aute Store by two years, Mrs Highwood said.
Photo caption – Ivan and Eileen Conroy outside the Te Aute Hotel.