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Last pour ... Pouring his last beer at the Falls Hotel in Maraura with wife Nancy is Paul Matheson. PHOTO: JENNY DILLNER

Emotional send-off for Falls Hotel couple

After 21 and a-half years, publican Paul Matheson is turning off the tap.

Mataura Falls Hotel managers Paul and Nancy Matheson are heading off to a totally different lifestyle.

First on the must-do list is a trip to Canada for three months to celebrate their son’s wedding and have a good look around.

When they get home, they will take up residence in their home in Wanaka.

Mr Matheson (56) said that after working in the freezing works in Mataura as a young man, he was more than happy to change careers.

Born and bred in Mataura, he had grown up with the people who lived there, he said.

“And now their kids are coming to the bar.”

Living and working in a small town, everybody knew everybody, he said.

“On the odd occasion I have had a difference with patrons, but that goes with the territory and I don’t hold grudges.”

Getting to meet and know the sports teams was another bonus of the job, he said.

“What you give out, you get back.”

The breakup evening held for them recently was one of the best nights he had ever had.

“Nancy and I were both humbled by the amount of people who turned up.

“I really want to say a special thanks to the Mataura Rugby Club for the haka performed.

“It still brings tears to my eyes – emotionally, it was extremely hard.”

If it wasn’t for good staff we wouldn’t still be here, we would have gone years ago.

“Also, too, I want to thank the Tamou family and friends for putting on the fantastic hangi.

“There was a lot of man-loving and hongis that night,” Mr Matheson said.

One of the factors that had kept the Mathesons at the Falls Hotel for so long was the staff.

“If it wasn’t for good staff we wouldn’t still be here, we would have gone years ago.”

Mrs Matheson has worked diligently in the background.

“I know I am the quiet one in this marriage, but we work well together,” she said.

Barmaid Nicola Johnston said she had been working for the Mathesons for more than 20 years, and had no intention of leaving.

“Working with both Paul and Nancy has been great. We are like one big family.

“It will be different without them,” Ms Johnston said.

“They have built up a bloody good business over the time. We will see what the future holds.”

Patrons, too, said they would miss seeing Mr Matheson behind the bar.

John Peek said Mr Matheson was a good manager and would be sorely missed.

“All we can do is wish them both well.

“They both have put in a lot of work here and deserve a break after all those years,” Mr Peek said.

The hotel has been taken over by assistant manager Frances Kereopa.