I have visited numerous old country pubs especially in the South Island when I was part of a TV crew. Most of these pubs had fascinating stories associated with them. The tales were generally about a local person who accomplished wild and wonderful deeds during his life. They were mainly male as early European settlers tended to be men with the physical strength to survive the challenges they faced. However, there are also some wonderful stories about women who stood up for their rights and achieved remarkable outcomes despite the limitations of their time.

Pub heroes were either great guys or villains and their stories tell of daring rescues, escapes from certain death and tragic losses of various kinds. Old pubs in the ports of Wellington, Lyttelton and Port Chalmers have stories about sailing ship captains while coastal pubs have fisherman and their boats as folklore characters. Inland pubs have ghost stories with local hauntings to add to the flavour of their legends. These characters are remembered in stories and history books today for being remarkably resilient in both mind and body and their stories show just how amazing the human spirit can be.


The Waihao Forks Hotel is home to New Zealand’s most unusual war memorial and is remembered every Anzac Day with flowers and prayers. Ted D’Auvergne grew up on a farm at Waihao Forks, a small settlement in South Canterbury. On the 19th September 1939, Ted enlisted with the New Zealand Army as part of the 27th Machine Gun and Infantry Battalion. He had just three months before being shipped overseas. Before the train left for the Burnham Military camp near Christchurch, Ted decided to have a few beers with friends and family at the Waihao Forks Hotel. He left an extra bottle of his favourite brew, Ballins XXXX ale with the publican asking him to keep it aside and he would drink it on his return. Sadly, Ted never claimed his bottle as he died in battle among the vineyards of Crete on the 2nd June 1941, aged 35.

The sad story doesn’t end there. In 1947 Ted’s father received a letter from Yakovos Kalionzakis who was only19 in 1941 when he found Ted lying in a vineyard wounded by a bullet through the chest. Yakovos managed to hide Ted from the Germans and brought him food for two days before he died. Four years after Ted died, his sister, Rita was killed by a German bomb while driving a fire engine around London.


In August 2020, a full-sized statue of Ted D’Auvergne was unveiled outside the Waihao Forks Hotel. He is portrayed seated with his kit bag beside him presumably waiting to start a journey that would eventually lead him to the vineyard where his life ended. At the same time, Ted’s Bottle is on display in the hotel and is an official RSA war memorial. Each Anzac Day locals gather at the pub to remember a local lad who died for New Zealand during the Second World War.

Ted’s Statue (

Ted’s story is one of the few that has a statue to keep the story visually alive. There are other pub stories with a similar thread, with men often heading to the goldfields with the promise of returning with enough money to set up a family but never returning. In many of these cases, the body was never found leaving loved ones to ever wonder where and how their man died so the sadness is even deeper than Ted’s story.

Ceidrik Heward

Speak Your Mind