by Bonk Scotney
“Jim Winchester bought this hut from Brian Hildreth. As far as I know, Brian built it in the late 1920s. In the early 1930s Brian was engaged in the first scientific research into the habits and life-style of possums in the Orongorongo Valley. Lots of Brian’s old formaldehyde bottles and other equipment were in the hut when I first began to use it. As far as I know, Brian was the first person to engage in possum research in the valley, maybe even in Wellington and even in all New Zealand. So old Boar Inn deserves special mention as a semi-historical building as it was built specially for Brian’s research work. Old Boar Inn is now due for demolition.
I was able to transfer my licence from Our Selection to a new Boar Inn in the mid 1950s and I was able to use the old hut at that time.
Preparing the hut was difficult because the site was damp. We squared off the site, the dragged up boulders the size of your head from the river and laid them out as a complete floor covering the size of the floor of the proposed hut. On top of that smaller stones the size of your fist, the gravel on the top of that. The concrete was laid on that smooth surface. Drains were put in before these stones were in place – glazed pipes with sealed joints so there was a good run-off from the sink, and also the damp from the back of the hut drained off. So what was a damp site is now well-drained.
We made concrete blocks for the hut by getting hold of a concrete block mould. Sand was brought up from the river-bed on the back of my Honda 90 trail bike. We mixed the concrete on a slab in front of the hut and filled 10 moulds each weekend. When the mould was removed the blocks were stood up on end to harden – on the stump of an old rimu tree. Altogether I made 112 concrete blocks over two summers. They formed the perimeter of the 3” high wall around the base of the new hut.
Now for the frame. I took my ideas and a few rough sketches to Hutt Valley Joinery in Taita where I struck a very co-operative foreman. Together we sketched out the frame-work. I hired a carrier who had a World War II 4X4 quad – he loaded up all the frame-work, timber, galvanized iron, window-frames bought from Kath McLeod for £5, took it all up the river and unloaded at the foot of the track to the hut.
Easter 1967 – the greater part of the new hut was put up. Friends helped with the frame-work, ready-made doors were bought, and were installed along with the windows. With the galvanized iron I enclosed the hut, fastening the iron over the frame-work, making the roof of it and putting a lap over the front of the roof to keep out the weather. Four stout fixed timber bunks were put in. Bruce Coburn, with the help of Rongotai College boys, has added to the inside of the hut keeping it in admirable repair. It now has a sink, cupboards, and comfortable chairs. Bruce has got the boys interested in the bush by taking them over there and they have kept an interest in the hut. Bruce used the hut regularly with Rongatai College boys.
When I was a tutor at the Hutt Valley Outpost for trainee teachers, we took several parties of trainee teachers over to Boar Inn. Nowadays, Rita and I and our friends go over for day visits and intend to continue so doing as long as our creeking [sic] joints will allow!”
Boar Inn is now managed by the Department of Conservation and can be booked from their website.
Source: Bonk Scotney, Park for the People 1920-2001: Rimutaka Forest Park Archive #69A
New and old Boar Inn 1987 (Bruce Cockburn)
Boar Inn today (Allan Sheppard)