Good Sorts: Puketapu publican fuelling her town's cyclone recovery

Mon, Apr 24

A couple of times a week, publican Mary Danielson stands guard at The Puketapu pub's front door - no one gets past her without a hug.

Two months on from Cyclone Gabrielle, the aftereffects are still being felt in the Hawke's Bay town.

As the community continues to rebuild, business isn't booming for Danielson, but community spirit definitely is.

"People just come in here… talk to us, tell us their problems," she told 1News.

She ushers locals in to big tables and hearty meals consisting of burgers, fries, everything nice - and the odd beer, of course.

Her financial model might raise some business owners' eyebrows, but it certainly grows smiles around town.

The drinks? Free. The food prepped at the dairy next door? Also free.

The only money that changes hands? A donation box that the community have been "very, very generous" to fill up regularly.

Danielson opens up the pub doors at least twice a week. Wednesday is usually a "bloke's night", two days later it's family Friday.

"We hear so many sad stories and go through so much and to see those happy families is the best," she said.

The pub itself also fell victim to the floods, the water rising to knee-level and carrying away kitchen equipment.

Almost everything had to be ripped out, Danielson remembering it as "a horrible feeling. Just awful".

Danielson said the feasts will keep flowing until her pub - hopefully - reopens in June.

Until then she's got the support of Puketapu, and it without a doubt has hers.

"I just want to be part of this community and help where we can," she said. "It's a very good feeling."


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