Behind the bar . . . Maheno Tavern staff member Sophie Smith has been keeping busy, since the premises re-opened at the end of July. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

The new Maheno Tavern owners want it to be a place where the community can come together.

Olga and Tjarko Edzes have been dairy farmers in Maheno since 2015 and have raised their five children – the youngest is now in year 13 at school.

Mrs Edzes was looking for something less physical to do, following two hip replacements.

“My husband’s still farming. I’m getting too old … This is my retirement plan.”

Maheno was quite a big area, and the community needed somewhere to come together, she said.

“We used to be [in the] Papakaio area and they’ve got a really nice community feel, with the hall and all the facilities there.

“There’s a good school here, there’s a good kindy here, there’s the bowling club. There’s a few really good things, and I thought well, it would be nice to bring it together a little bit.

“That’s what I’d love to see.”

She wanted the premises to be used for fundraisers, school meetings and anything else that would help support community groups.

Mr and Mrs Edzes are originally from Holland and came to New Zealand in 1992.

Mrs Edzes had previously worked in the canteen at Rotterdam Zoo and as a private cook before they emigrated to New Zealand to farm.

The tavern changed hands on July 19 and the Edzes initially planned to reopen after calving, “because, it’s the busiest time”.

But after some persuasion from the locals, they decided to open at the end of July, leaving them 10 days to prepare.

The place was given a “major clean and tidy-up” and some fresh paint.

Mrs Edze appreciated the help and advice she received from people to ensure they met the opening deadline.

Waitaki District Council staff were helpful in talking her through the steps of getting her liquor licence and ensuring everything was running in accordance with consent and licensing laws, she said.

The menu was simple, flexible to customer requirements and reasonably priced, and they were open to suggestions.

It was about finding a balance between the food she wanted to prepare and meeting customers’ expectations.

“At the end of the day, it’s a pub and that’s the first reason why they come, but during the day, you can’t just keep the door shut and say it’s only a pub.

“That’s my biggest challenge, on what are we going to offer the community.

“And we have to keep the tradition going as well, because they appreciate that.”

Mrs Edzes was enjoying the change in pace but was still keeping busy, and continued to do the accounts for the farm.

“I sleep well at night.”

Her husband helped out at the tavern by “keeping an eye on the beer lines” and maintaining the 1ha section, she said.