The Westshore Hotel has been a feature of Westshore Beach community life for approximately 150 years. It started out as McKains Villers Accommodation House off the Spit, where James McKain applied for a bush licence to enable him to sell liquor at the House. The current Westshore Hotel can be traced back to this House, the licence application for which appeared in the New Munster Gazette on 22 August 1851.
In its time, the hotel has been named Ahuriri, The Ferry, Ferryman’s, and latterly The Westshore. The reason for its current location can be traced back to a fire in the then-named Ferry Hotel at The Spit bridge.
The owners of The Ferry Hotel had to endure a lengthy court battle to keep the licence and to have the Hotel rebuilt. Eventually, around 1925, the new hotel was built at the junction of Meeanee Quay and Embankment Road and named The Westshore Beach Inn.
A Little Maori Legend
Mahu Tapoanui Camps at Westshore
Mahu, a descendent of Ruawharo, lived at Mahia and Lake Waikaremoana long before the major Maori immigration in the mid 14th century and he made several trips into the Ahuriri district many years before his descendant To Orutu established his people around the shores of the Ahurir lagoon. He made many visits to his brother-in-law Taewha, a tohunga who had settled at Waimarama, and learned to become a Tohunga himself. His name is perpetuated in Omahu and Parimahu or Pariomahu, the cliff at Blackhead.
On one of his trips Mahu stopped off at Westshore spit, then named Rangitira after a child of Ruawharo of the Takitmu canoe who had died there. He rested in a depression in the ground just behind the Westshore Hotel stands today. His dog, which did many magicial things in the Ahuriri district, began scratching in the ground for water. Before long a little pool of water formed and init a fish called Te Tangahangaha appeared. This gave the place the name Ruatanahangaha, the hole of the Tangahangaha.
A water hole or spring at this site existed when the European settlers arrived on the Westsern Spit. When sections were surveyed for sale north of Alfred Street, section 53 which contained this water hole, was set aside as a quarantine reserve. It was never used for this purpose as it was too close to civilization and Quarantine Island was preferred. Members of the nearby Napier Sailing Club and a rowing Club used Section 53 for picnicking and camping until neighbours complained about the noise.
In about 1920 the pool or lagoon had become stagnant and J.Vigor Brown who had his summer house nearby complained that it was a potential source of disease and he eventually prevailed upon the Hawkes Bay County Council to fill the lagoon, a process which proved to be much more expensive than anticipated.