Southland Tavern, Invercargil

As a community-focused organisation, the Invercargill Licensing Trust knew that in the interests of its customers it was time to replace the Southland Tavern.

The old building, which had become outdated and exceeded its serviceable life, was demolished to make way for a more modern and customer friendly offering with sports bar, gaming machines, TAB and a separate lodge-style dining area.

For the design of the new building, the trust called on Bernie O’Fagan, of RM Designs, which has a long track record in the hospitality industry for redesigns, redevelopments or new builds.

Bernie O’Fagan says, “The Trust took us to the project site – the old building was in-situ poured concrete, very bunker-like and getting to be in poor shape. The only way they could see to give the community what it wanted was to demolish the old building and build again.”

Bernie says the Trust wanted a sports bar but with a softer edge so it would appeal to female clientele, and the separate 40-seat restaurant was to have a sophisticated, lodge feel.

“Something with soft furnishings, a little bit more elegant and with a higher comfort level,” he says of the Thar & Feather restaurant. 

The gabled rooflines of the brick and weatherboard building were a logical choice, given that the Trust wanted a building with a homely, inviting feel.

“The architectural brief was really for a big house, a form that people were familiar with and that wouldn’t estrange anyone. It had to suit its context,” says Bernie. “Inside, there’s an exposed truss detail to give it a bit more homeliness and warmth.”

Bernie says the Six-Line longrun roofing was chosen because of its cost effectiveness and simple, classic style in keeping with the building, which had a budget of $2.2 million.

“Using the longrun let us spend a bit more money on the theming of the bar and restaurant.”

He says because of its hospitality focus, the building was designed predominantly “from the inside out”.

“We work spacially with what sort of zones intersect with each other,” he says. “And we work out where the zones sit in relation to the predominant wind and sun, and where the sun impacts on the internal environment.”

The sports bar has warm timber tones and exposed trusses that give it a more open feel. The Thar & Feather has the same warm tones but a more enclosed, intimate feel that is complemented by the central fireplace. Both bar and restaurant open out to covered courtyards.

The tavern has an 18-machine gaming area, and  also features a TAB  with manned and self-service terminals.

Chris Ramsay, marketing and sales manage for the Trust, says, “The total rebuild was to ensure our offering to the south city suburbs was in keeping with our mission statement – the best quality hospitality business for the area.”

He says the Trust owns 26 different hospitality businesses, including accommodation, restaurants, bars, taverns, night clubs, bottle stores and liquor distribution. 

“The profit from these businesses is returned to the community in the form of grants, donations and sponsorships; $8-$10 million per annum is returned to the community.”



RM Designs

Founded in Christchurch in 1998, RM Designs is an established face in the design industry.

The main principals are seasoned veterans in light commercial design specialising in hospitality and retail. Their resume includes brands such as DB Breweries, NZ Racing Board, Monteiths Brewing Company and Unichem. Spaces like Terrace Downs Resort, Yellow Cross and The Old Vicarage are part of the portfolio and represent a diverse clientele.

Alan Raine brings 30 years’ experience in design, and collaborates with his design team who provide a youthful, inquiring edge.

Bernie O’Fagan coordinates consultants and directs the company in a dynamic industry.

This award-winning company believes commercial returns and a ringing till are true indicators of successful design. And that the design process is a true partnership between client and designer – right down to theming, graphics and staff uniforms.

Architectural design: RM Designs


Telephone: (03) 354 6341

Roofing profile: Endura COLORSTEEL® .40mm 

Marshall Industries’  Six-Line profile. 

Colour: ‘Ironsand’

Roofing supplier: Marshall Industries, Invercargill, 

Telephone: 03 218 2579

Installer: Marshall Industries 

subcontractor C J Turner Roofing 

Telephone: 03 215 9512

Builder: Henderson Construction Ltd


Telephone: 03 216 9002