Gary & Gloria McGill

Pub becomes heart of the community

When Gary and Gloria McGill bought the Kokatahi pub in 1991, little did they know the next 12 years would see them make some of the best memories of their lives.

The dairy community centred on the Kokatahi pub, and Gary, known throughout the West Coast as Goog, says, “The locals were good, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth people, who really looked after each other.

“It was more of a community centre than a pub and in some ways, it was the locals’ pub, and we were just looking after it,” he says.
Goog and his wife Gloria spent more than a decade running the Kokatahi pub, after moving from Kumara where they had been managing another establishment. The couple were after something for themselves and when the Kokatahi pub went on the market, they jumped at the opportunity.

Goog shares plenty of fond memories; from the annual “round the pub triathlon”, to holding community and club meetings, and having a trampoline out the back for ‘kids night’ on Sundays.

While their patrons were mostly from the local dairy community, the pub was also well supported by the local sawmill and builders; and they had plenty of out of town people come through looking for a meal, or a place to stay.

“A lot of people associated with dairy farming, including truck drivers and salespeople, or anyone servicing the farming sector, would often stop by,” says Goog.

The couple branched out to catering, and Goog fondly remembers being asked to cater for the grand opening of Westland Co-operative Dairy’s new milk powder factory in 1992.

“It was an event for about 600 people, and it was a great challenge for us. We really enjoyed the catering side of the business,” he says.
This led the couple to cater for future annual events for the dairy company; including a New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year event.

“Gloria did most of the cooking and baking for our catering jobs, and she did all the cooking at the pub during the week. On the weekend, we’d have more staff; we’re proud to say we had very loyal staff during our time owning the pub,” he says.

After 12 years of pub ownership, Goog and Gloria decided it was time to move on. The couple now split their time between living on the Gold Coast in Australia and coming home to New Zealand’s West Coast.

Though they live away, Goog says it always feels as if he’s never left, “A large piece of our heart is in Kokatahi.”