Newspaper Article 1998 – Ahuriri – Full of History

AHURIRI –  Full of History

Ahuriri and its past history

The first sighting of Ahuriri by a European was on October 14 1769 by Captain James Cook, in the ship, Endeavour.

In 1827, using Cook’s chart, the Frenchman, d’Urville, in the Astrolabe sailed into the bay. Later whalers found this safe anchorage, and a trading base was established by Captain ‘Barney’ Rhodes in 1839 on the spit which is bounded by Hardinge Road and Waghorne Street.

Battery Road was formed on a strip of shore which ran along the base of the hill. The rest of this area is reclaimed land incorporating two islands. The last small reclamation off Battery Road was finished in 1986.

The Ahuriri block was bought from the Maori on November 17 1851. It was reported in April 1852 that a town was being laid for settlers at the harbour of Ahuriri and the first sale of sections took place in April 1855. Prices ranged between $10 and $20 pounds [£10 and £20] for a section about 1000 sq metres.

Ahuriri is full of history with many interesting places to see and visit.

There is a popular walk for visitors to Napier, and even might surprise a local or two. The walk is in two stages and covers all the historic things to see.

Ahuriri was known as The Spit until 1903.


Life and times of the Union Hotel

The Union Hotel…

On April 17 1858, Henry Shirley, a carpenter applied to the licensing court for a publican’s licence for a hotel to be called The Bird in Hand. The new building was being built in Waghorne Street by the wharf. The licence was granted and it was the first hotel established on the eastern spit (Ahuriri).

In 1860 the hotel was taken over by another carpenter, Joseph Le Quesne. He carried out extensive alterations and additions to the hotel, and renamed it the Commercial Hotel.

By 1875 the proprietors had changed a number of times. However the renewal for the licence in 1875 depended on a number of repairs being carried out by then proprietor John Young. The repairs were not carried out and the licence was withdrawn. The hotel remained unlicenced for nine months. During this time the property was purchased by Henry Willis. The licence wasn’t granted until September 1876 after he had repaired outbuildings and put the house in “fit and proper” condition.

By April 1880 a Napier brewer leased the hotel, and sub-leased it. The hotel was destroyed by fire under “very suspicious circumstances”. After a lengthy enquiry, permission was given to re-build the hotel.

By June 1887, the title of the hotel was the Union Hotel.

In the 1931 earthquake and the fire that followed at Ahuriri, the Union Hotel and surrounding buildings were completely destroyed. The Union Hotel was re-built on the same site. In 1995 Waghorne Street was blocked off when the Ellison & Duncan Art Deco frontage was moved from opposite the Union Hotel and placed across Waghorne Street to form part of a security wall.

Photo caption – Children herding cattle by the Union Hotel in the 1860s. Photo courtesy, Collection of Hawke’s Bay Cultural Trust, Hawke’s Bay Museum, Napier.

Did you know: Spriggs Park: In the sea opposite the gates, about 10 metres offshore, is the wreck of the Montmorency, shipwrecked in 1867.



PHONE/FAX (06) 835 9016
Kid’s Rod Reel Sets for the Wharf
$14.95 While stock last

22 years in Pandora Rd selling caravans! Does that qualify Murray Church as part of Ahuriri’s history?
Either way his experience qualifies him as a bit of a caravan “know-all”
For Caravan Sales, Service or Hire
Murray Church
Hawke’s Bay Caravan Sales
Pandora Road, Napier  Phone 835 1070

Southern Cross Hospital
Provides the latest surgical technology in comfortable and relaxing surroundings
We look forward to caring for you
Special discounts for Southern Cross Members
Battery Rd, Napier.
Ph (06) 835 3202

Try our Family Meals & Monster Size Steaks
Available for family functions & 21sts
Ahuriri Cafe Bar
50 Bridge Street, Ahuriri. Phone 835 1307

in a superb location
20 West Quay, Ahuriri
Phone (06) 834 4318 Fax (06) 834 3010

We are proud to be part of Port Ahuriri Industries since 1991
Also specialists in
General, Marine, Transport & Hydraulic Engineering
Ph (06) 835 4313 – Fax (06) 835 7707
Custom Quay, P.O.BOX 12071
Ahuriri, Napier

Try one of the finest lunches in town
Bistro hours 11.45am till 1.30pm
Bar open 10am till Late
Sky TV    Juke Box    Games Machines
3 Waghorne Street, Ahuriri. Ph: 835 8914

The Hawke’s Bay Sun    Thursday April 2, 1998   Page 13

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Business / Organisation

Union Hotel

Format of the original

Newspaper article

Date published

2 April 1998


Hawke's Bay Sun


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


  • Murray Church
  • Captain James Cook
  • Joseph Le Quesne
  • Captain Barney Rhodes
  • Henry Shirley
  • Henry Willis
  • John Young

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