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The Black Dog Tavern in Ormondville reopens after year-long closure

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Situated in the rural Tararua community of Ormondville near Dannevirke is a tavern filled with charm, character, motorbikes and rusty farm equipment – and it has finally reopened.

The Black Dog Tavern had been closed for over a year after previous owner Helen Upson died before Brendon Wilson decided to buy it.

The Black Dog Tavern staff: Sharee O'Dowd (left), Sarah Vehikite and Andrea-Leigh Vercoe (front). Photo / LABEN Photography
The Black Dog Tavern staff: Sharee O’Dowd (left), Sarah Vehikite and Andrea-Leigh Vercoe (front). Photo / LABEN Photography

The fencer-turned-pub owner said he wasn’t going to give up his day job but couldn’t look past the opportunity to reopen the pub.

A combination of motorbike memorabilia, rustic farm equipment, and what the owner describes as cool stuff that others wouldn’t want lines the walls – inside and outside.

“Helen loved her bikes and she was well-known throughout the world, and I thought it would be a shame to see this place go to ruin.”

Upson reportedly also loved german shepherds, and when she found the black dog sign that sits above the door she named the tavern after it.

The owner decided to take on the pub to “get it going again” for the people of Ormondville, who he deemed to still have the good old values.

“It’s a hell of a good community. They still help each other out. They were keen to keep the pub going, so I thought I would give it a go.”

The sign outside the tavern is only a glimpse into what the inside has to offer. Photo / LABEN Photography
The sign outside the tavern is only a glimpse into what the inside has to offer. Photo / LABEN Photography

He had fitted out the tavern with a new bar area and fixed the roof, and wanted it made clear it was a gang-free space.

Wilson said he didn’t think it would be difficult to run the country pub and was focused on keeping the surrounding communities of Ormondville, Norsewood and Makotuku fed and hydrated.

The Black Dog Tavern in Ormondville reflects its country setting with nods to rural life. Photo / LABEN Photography
The Black Dog Tavern in Ormondville reflects its country setting with nods to rural life. Photo / LABEN Photography

Staff member Andrea-Leigh Vercoe is new to the Black Dog team and said she couldn’t help but love the tavern.

“It’s got that inviting atmosphere and I love working somewhere it doesn’t feel so mechanical.”

She said that a pub was a special place and somewhere people go to forget their troubles and have a good time. That’s something she was sure would happen at the Black Dog.

“It’s where out-of-towners come and make new friends, or they connect with people they have not met before.”

The tavern is home to many motorbike-inspired decorations. Photo / LABEN Photography
The tavern is home to many motorbike-inspired decorations. Photo / LABEN Photography

She said it was special to work in a pub, and she loved to see people happy.

“People forget about the weight on their shoulders. It’s all about ‘let’s go to the pub.’”

While Wilson had plans for the future, he wanted to start small and wrap his head around the industry.

The tavern is open from today and will be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon till 7.30pm.

Michaela Gower joined Hawke’s Bay Today in 2023 and is based out of the Hastings newsroom. She covers Dannevirke and Hawke’s Bay news and has a love for sharing stories about farming and rural communities.



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