Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Motelier Donates Paihia Motel

Built only a few years after motels in New Zealand first started to appear, the Top o' the Tide Motel is to be resigned to history.

A sad end to a classic 1960's property located on prime coastal land in Paihia.
"A retiring motelier is donating a $2 million waterfront property to the people of Paihia for use as a scenic reserve.

John Williams has owned the Top o' the Tide Motel, at the corner of Marsden Rd and Davis Cres in Paihia, for almost 50 years. While the building itself has seen better days the 0.4ha site occupies a prime location on the Paihia waterfront with sweeping views of Te Ti Bay. It is officially valued at $2 million.

Mr Williams said he was donating the land as a place for people to relax and enjoy the view of the Bay of Islands.

"I've been here nearly 50 years. If I sold the site, it might get turned into a pub or a backpackers. I believe it will be more valuable to the community of Paihia as a reserve," he said.

Asked why he didn't sell the land and pocket the proceeds, he said simply: "You can't take it with you".

Mr Williams, who is now in his 80s, built most of the motel in the mid-1960s when it was one of just two or three in Paihia. While he wouldn't miss the motel itself, he would miss what he was sure was the best spot on the waterfront. "When you've been in a place 50 years you do get attached to it."

The only conditions attached to the gift are that the Far North District Council pay for the motel's demolition, classify the site as a scenic reserve under the Reserves Act, and name it after his late mother, Lucy Elizabeth Williams.

Mr Williams said his mother had raised him and his siblings through the depression years. She was born in England, where she made munition boxes in World War I before emigrating to Canada, and from there to New Zealand. "You don't realise until later what your parents do for you, especially in those days. It was very tough," he said.

The new reserve will be grassed over until it is ready for planting. The public and Focus Paihia will have a say on the landscaping and management plan Mr Williams is working on.

Far North Mayor Wayne Brown said Mr Williams' extraordinary gesture would be greatly appreciated by the Paihia community. "Paihia is our main tourist town, but has very few neighbourhood reserves where people can relax and play. The Lucy Elizabeth Williams Reserve will add to all other good things that make Paihia a great place to visit and live in."

Focus Paihia chairman Grant Harnish thanked Mr Williams for his generous donation.

"It shows the community spirit that is developing in Paihia. People are really motivated to make the place better."
Source: Click HERE

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