The first moves aimed at getting a hotel licence for Kaiwaka were made in 1954. At the time (and still to this day) the nearest hotels to Kaiwaka were in Mangawhai, Maungaturoto and Wellsford; there was no accommodation and nowhere in the town to buy liquor of any kind. In July of that year Rue Colson, wrote to the Licensing Control Commission in Wellington. The commission replied, just six days later. It pointed out that there had been a review of licenses in the area only two years earlier, and another review was not planned for at least four years. Kaiwaka would have to wait.
Armed with this and other information provided my the Licensing Control Commission, Rue Colson called for a meeting those interested to decide on the next step. The minutes note that after discussion both for and against, he succeeded in getting the meeting to support the motion: "That this meeting would support further efforts to obtain a license for Kaiwaka". Colson then proposed that a committee of five be set up "to find ways and means of furthering the project". This passed and Tom Hall, Jack Litten, Brian Linnell Eric Judd and Rue Colson were elected to this first committee.
Three and a half years later The Licensing Control Commission advised that Kaiwaka's application would be heard at a sitting of the commission in Whangarei on April 30, 1958. The committee leapt into action, assembling evidence for the hearing.
Kaiwaka's arguments for the license were opposed be every hotel within reasonable driving distance of Kaiwaka, and by New Zealand Breweries, owners of the Maungaturoto Hotel.
The Licensing Control Commission thought differently and a few weeks later granted the License, but it was to take another four years - until March, 1962 - before a publican's license was awarded to Mr E.C. Pipe of Avondale. The publican's license, was not part of the Licensing Commission's business; it was issued by the Northland Licensing Committee. Not realising that this second license would take so long, the hotel committee continued planning.
Two years later there had been no progress on the hotel, the hotel committee had been disbanded and the Country Town Committee was taking an overview of the project. They wrote in 1963 to Pipe: "We are perturbed by the lack of we had had over the last two years and would appreciate some definite assurance from you as to when Kaiwaka will have an hotel operating." Seven months later, in October 1963, Pips received a letter from the Northland Licensing Committee advising that the time in which they required him to build and open his hotel had expired and they asked whether he intended to take any further steps to obtain a [new] license and build a hotel. Evidently he did not and late that year the Northland Licensing Committee advised Jack Littin "....there is no application before the committee concerning hotel premises in Kaiwaka".
A year later Jack Litton wrote to the MP for Rodney, saying that it was now five years since Kaiwaka's license was granted and asking if he could ascertain just what was the position because "......we are concerned that Mr Pipe may be just holding his advantage in that he has the license granted". Back came a note from the Mintser of Justice, saying Pip had given an undertaking that the hotel premises would be proceeded without delay. But in March 1965 the Northland Licensing Committee advised the Licensing Control Commission that no apparent start had been made.
By August 1965 Jack Litton was writing to the MP of Rodney again. He voiced fears that there was a conspiracy to hold up Kaiwaka's hotel: "Mr Pipe, I understand, is backed by NZ Breweries and I suspect that with [the brewery] interested in Wellsford, Maungaturoto (and Mangawhai to some degree), that they are keeping others out''.
In October 1965, Pipe received notification from the Licensing Commission calling on him to appear before the commission to show cause why his license should not be revoked.
Eight months later, in June 1966, Kaiwaka had its pub. Twelve years and one month from since Rue Colson, who didn't live to see the hotel completed, took the first step to this end. In the press coverage of the official opening, a jovial Mr Pipe was asked why he called the hotel The Three Furlongs. He answered that as a keen racing man he had found that his horses usually stopped at the three fulongs post (well short of the finishing post), "so I hope that many travellers to the north will do the same".
Since is opening in 1966 to now, the Three Furlongs Hotel hasn't changed too much, until we "The Sparkies" took ownership in 2015. We hope that the recent changes have improved this quintessential county pub, with great grub, a fun, and friendly atmosphere.
We hope, like Mr Pipe did, that people travelling north will "stop short of their finishing post" and call in.
(information sourced from: Stories tall, stories short - Kaiwaka 1959 - 2009, by Rodger T.W. Smith)