And just when you figured that was the end of the scandalous Maungaturoto Hotel Saga the building itself had its own tale to tell. The hotel of course still stands today there right beside a now much improved road bridge coming into the Maungaturoto Township. This excerpt comes from This Valley in the Hills 1963 compiled by Dick Butler for the Maungaturoto Centennial Committee.
The Licence of the Hakaru Hotel (called the Cornish Arms Hotel) was brought by the brewery interests from Mrs N. J. Sarah, and was transferred to Maungaturoto. There was only a limited time to build a new hotel and have the licence in use again or it would lapse. All new buildings for the breweries were constructed at this time by Johnny Rowe, who was Mayor of Onehunga (the forerunner of prefabricated buildings today) and intended to ship them on the barquentine May from the Manukau onto the Kaipara, and up to Point Curtis. There it was to be transferred onto barges for the trip up the river to Maungaturoto. The scheme was a good one in theory, but not work out of practice.
The May was weather-bound inside the Manukau Heads for a week and the bar conditions were so bad she had no chance of getting out. Back went the May to Onehunga. The hotel was unloaded and loaded on a train to Helensville. At Helensville Captain Cecil (Sandy) Vause waited with the tug Tangihua and a cattle punt, and every other boat in the Kaipara which could be engaged for the cartage of the remainder was pressed into service.
Captain Vause, who served all of his life on the Kaipara until the boat traffic ceased altogether, and who died earlier this year (1963) at the age of 78, told the story of the race against time to get the building to Maungaturoto. The cattle punt, which the Tangihua was towing, developed a leak coming across the harbour entrance, and started to list badly. The Tangihua let go the tow-line about Tinopai, and went back to tie up beside the punt. It looked at one stage as if the whole lot was going to capsize.
The punt, still leaking badly, was run aground on the hard alongside the old Batley wharf. When the tide had dropped the plugs were pulled out of the punt, the water drained out, and replaced. She was refloated on the next high tide. “We then went for our lives for Maungaturoto with the barge still leaking,” recalled Captain Vause. Then it was “flat out” back to Point Curtis to unload bricks and cement off the steamer, and the rest of the building from other boats which could not make it up the creek to Maungaturoto.
When all the materials were landed at Maungaturoto, they had to be dragged up the hill to the hotel site in the pouring rain. The frame was up, a door hung, and the licence nailed to the door – the day the time limit expired. “Every time I went past the Maungaturoto Hotel after that I always thought of the hard work connected with getting it there,” continued Captain Vause. He said it was lucky any of it got there, apart from the leaking barge. The builders travelled on the Tangihua, and had a “fiar dinkum” party to pass the time. Even the Tangihua’s engineer, one “Scot” McKenzie, was drunk, and Captain Vause did not know how he even kept the engines going.