Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

15 November 2009

Hororata Hotel

I wrote and illustrated ‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’. It was published in 1995 and was a snapshot of some New Zealand pubs as they were at the end of the 20th century. I have decided to share some of the entries from the book from time to time on this blog.

Hororata came close to being a railway town when a line from Christchurch to the West Coast via Browning Pass was surveyed. It’s on record that the Hororata Domain Board members kicked up a stink when they heard that it might pass through the eastern part of the domain.

In 1865, fortunately for Hororata and the travelling public, Arthur Dudley Dobson found Arthur’s Pass where it had always been, and the threat disappeared. All the same there was pedestrian demand for accommodation along the old Maori greenstone route, from hunters, and from drovers taking cattle from Longbeach to Hokitika via Browning Pass. A chain of accommodation houses grew, one of which was set up in Hororata by Edwin Derrett. Having arrived in 1852, he was one of the first settlers in the district and it seems he spread his interests between farming and hospitality. Sometime later he built a hotel which was sold as new in 1873 and re-sold in 1874 to Thomas Napier.

In 1882, Napier had a new, two-storeyed timber pub built by local tradesmen. It was described as: ‘large and lofty… almost entirely surrounded by tall pines, and the crescent-shaped roadway by which it is approached from the main road gives it a pleasing appearance.’

A 1903 photograph from the ‘Cyclopaedia of New Zealand’ shows Thomas Napier’s pub, owned at the time by Patrick Crowe. It is a fine clapboard building with modillioned eaves, and ornamented lintels over the doors and windows. Arranged before the pub, in attitudes of studied indifference, is a group of local patrons; the whole scene is framed by large macrocarpa trees. It is that same hotel that stands today; macrocarpas still frame the scene and the windows and doors still have their bracketed lintels but the modillions have disappeared and the clapboard exterior is hidden under a stucco cladding. The pub was ‘re-designed and modernised’ in 1967 but I suspect that the old timbers are still slumbering under all that plaster.




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By Don Donovan

About Me

My photo

Don Donovan: Biography

I was born on 20 January 1933, nine days before Hitler came to power in Germany, I grew up in south London. Although evacuated during the phoney war and the quieter times I lived in and out of air raid shelters during the blitz and experienced both V1 and V2 attacks on London. Left grammar school in 1948 aged 15 substantially undereducated. I wanted to go to art school but because of family ‘poverty’ joined a commercial art studio in the West End. I was, thereafter, variously a messenger boy, commercial artist and typographer. I was in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 when the only useful thing I did was to take part in King George VI’s funeral parade.

In 1955 I married Patricia O’Donnell, a RADA graduate, at that time playing opposite Derek Nimmo, they were juvenile leads in a touring repertory company. He went on to great success because he had a funny voice.

We came to New Zealand in 1960 where I worked in advertising. At length I became managing director of one of the companies of whose holding company (the largest domestic advertising complex in New Zealand) I was also a proprietor and shareholder. I left the industry in 1990 when my company was bought out by American interests. My timing was brilliant, at that point my first book had been published and the next was on its way.

We have two daughters and four grand-children.

Now, apart from writing, I function as a self-educated grumpy old man.

Books & Writings

‘New Zealand Odyssey’, with Euan Sarginson, Heinemann-Reed, 1989.

‘One Man’s Heart Attack’, New House, 1990. (A special edition of this book was purchased by CIBA-Geigy for distribution to NZ doctors).

‘Open 7 Days’, Random Century, October 1991.

‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’ by Saint Publishing in 1995 followed by:
‘New Zealand House & Cottage’ in 1997. (Saint Publishing have also published calendars for the years 1994 to 2004 using my watercolour illustrations).

‘The Wastings’, my first novel was published in July 1999 by Hazard Press. Although an international subject it had very limited distribution, only in New Zealand, and the rights have reverted to me. (Colin Dexter read 'The Wastings' and wrote to me: 'I enjoyed and admired "The Wastings"... a beautifully written work... a splendid debut in crime fiction... More please!'.)

Also the texts of photographic books:
‘Colourful New Zealand’
‘New Zealand in Colour’
‘Top of the South’
‘Above Auckland’
‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’
‘Bay of Plenty’
and a compilation of photographs and quotations titled ‘Anzac Memories’ 2004 all published by New Holland.

My written and illustrated book, ‘Country Churches of New Zealand’ was published in October 2002 by New Holland, who also published ‘Rural New Zealand’ 2004 (photographs and text), and a series of four humorous books of photographs and quotations in 2004 and 2005 titled ‘Woolly Wisdom’, ‘Chewing the Cud’, ‘Fowl Play’, and ‘Pig Tales’. My most recent book was published in August 2006 by New Holland, titled ‘Political Animals’.

Over the years I have written for NZ Herald, Heritage Magazine, Next Magazine and various local and overseas travel and general interest media.