Two years ago, Craig Brett moved south from Nelson to become the new co-owner of the Moeraki Tavern. The former New Zealand masters hockey player, who represented the country for 13 years, chats to Oamaru Mail reporter Gus Patterson about how he is enjoying the change in lifestyle.
Q What brought you to Moeraki?
Myself, my partner Abbie Murrell, and our very good friends Stewart and Jackie Beach moved down to Moeraki two years ago from sunny Nelson. We had all lived in Nelson our whole lives. I never thought I would leave but here we are, and I do not regret it in the least.
Q What were you doing in Nelson?
I originally started working in the motor trade and progressed to service manager at the Ford dealership, before deciding to follow my passion of hockey. I took on the role of development manager of the Tasman region for Hockey New Zealand. Abbie and Jackie worked in administration and Stewart was a car painter.
Q What brought you down to Moeraki?
After 25 years in the motor trade and 15 years working for Hockey New Zealand, I felt I needed a new vocation. Abbie was keen to do something different so we started looking for a business. We spent about 12 months looking around New Zealand for the perfect spot and business and kept coming back to this area. It was not until we met the previous owners of the Moeraki Tavern at a wedding and they mentioned they were looking to sell that we thought ‘this is us’ – and nine months later, along with Stewart and Jackie, we took over.
Q How are you finding it?
We are absolutely loving it. The area is so amazing, with beautiful scenery and friendly people. Moeraki is a busy place with lots of tourists visiting the area, but when we do get a chance, we go exploring the district for new and interesting things to see and do.
Q What has been the biggest change moving to Moeraki?
I guess leaving family and friends, the sport I love and the time off! In saying that, we have met so many awesome people down here – whether they are the locals, tourists from around the world or folks out for a nice drive from the area. People have made our transition so easy.
Q Had you worked as a publican before?
None whatsoever, although we had all spent a bit of time on the other side of the bar. It was certainly a real eye-opener in our first year as we acclimatised to the business and made changes we wanted within the tavern. We like to think we have progressed pretty well since then and now like to call ourselves publicans.
Q Has hockey has always been a passion?
Hockey has been my lifelong passion, along with Stewart and Jackie, who have also played all their lives. Some of my fondest memories have come from playing and coaching the sport. Some of my greatest thrills have come from playing my first under-13 representative game through to winning many national titles and then going on to represent my country for 13 years. Coaching has also been a huge part of my hockey career and to see Nelson players who I coached through their younger years, like Anita McClaren (Punt) and Kelsey Smith, playing for the Black Sticks makes me very proud to have had some input into their sporting careers.
Q How was your time representing New Zealand?
I played for the New Zealand men’s masters 40s team for eight years, the 45s team for three and then the 50s team for two years. We won the Pacific Rim title in Melbourne for 40s and a couple of silvers at the world cups, then world titles in Hong Kong and Singapore with the 45s team. In the 50s, we could only manage a bronze at the world cup in Canberra and a test series win over Australia.
Q Are you going to be involved in hockey here in North Otago?
Yes, definitely. From what I have seen when I have run clinics here, there are some great players evolving in the area. I would love to have some more involvement if time permits and it would be great to get back out on the field again, although I’m not sure how long I would last.
Q What is the Moeraki Tavern’s best meal?
I think that is the million-dollar question – we have so many!