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Reader Review

June 3, 2012


Hi Graeme.

On a recent flight with Air New Zealand you kindly presented me with a copy of your book, “Horncastle’s Suitcase”.


I don’t know whether to thankyou or not – I started reading your book on a day off in LA and spent the remainder of that day finishing it – where the day went, I do not know; I became so immersed in your story that I just kept reading.


There are many aspects of your journey that mirror my own life: farming, fishing, children, grand-children, hard work, goats, horses, beer, Old Pale Gold sherry and so much more.

I mentioned the “Suitcase” to my 92 year old Mum; she said she would love to read it when I could get it to her – she lives on the Coromandel; I know she will enjoy it as much as I have.

Again – many thanks for your generosity and for sharing the Horncastle story.


Kindest regards

Flight Service Manager - Chris Carson.   




Book Review

March 15, 2012


Horncastle's Suitcase By Graeme Horncastle (Pavilions Hotel)
Reviewed by Naida Mulligan - The Southland Times


This autobiography, subtitled A New Zealand Family Story, was not at first a must-read for me. From the title and cover, I assumed it was an immigration story and, coupled with the heavy weight of the book, it did seem to lack appeal. However, the author's preface hooked me and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

Graeme Horncastle grew up in Karamea, on the West Coast of the South Island, one of seven surviving children. The family barely made ends meet and it was a difficult upbringing with a depressive drunk for a father although it seems that Graeme's mother was the rock that every young person needs in their formative years, a "saint" in his own words. Sadly she had a weak heart and died aged only 42. Graeme was already grown and left home at that stage but her death was devastating for him nonetheless.

The interesting thing about Graeme Horncastle is that he has drive and tenacity, the gift of the gab and an innate ability to make money. Along with his wife, Maureen, (married when she was 15, he 17) he has slogged, wheeled, dealed and made millions, mainly in the hotel trade.


Despite his success, Graeme has also faced difficulties, following in his father's (and grandfather's) footsteps, of depression and alcoholism. Interestingly, his limited schooling meant that he could barely spell when he started this book at age 55. Reading and writing was a skill he employed others for.

There is a ghost writer, Mike Bradstock. The words, though, are Graeme's and he sure can tell a good yarn. His story is inspiring. Today, with his family, he owns and operates The Pavilions Hotel in Christchurch. You can read more information about the book and purchase it by visiting (... this website )






ebook version available now eBook Launch

April 24, 2012


Today I released the eBook version of Horncastle's Suitcase on Smashwords so that even more readers can enjoy my book wherever they prefer to read- on the Kindle, their iPad, PC and even their iPhone. Head on over and download your version today and let me know what you think :)




Book Review


Owners of The Pavillions Hotel Maureen and Graeme Horncastle.


ABOVE REVIEW from Tony Orman- Saturday Express Aug 6, 2011



Book Review


Owners of The Pavillions Hotel Maureen and Graeme Horncastle.


ABOVE REVIEW from Tim Cronshaw - The Press AUG 12, 2011



Book Review

Horncastle's Suitcase - a New Zealand Family History
By Graeme Horncastle with Mike Bradstock

Published by Pavilions Hotel $29.99

Reviewed by Tony Orman (AUG 2011)

From a casual first glance it might be easy to assume this book is just a boring chronicle of
a family. First impressions can be wrong and certainly in this case.

The story consists of a rollercoaster ride, right from birth in Blenheim, to childhood on a 30-cow dairy farm near Karamea on the West Coast where, in the words of the author, he was raised by a "devoted mother and a frustrated eccentric father".

Life was great on the Coast for youngsters with weird and wacky incidents but with a
I father who increasingly took to the bottle, the economics of the farm were rocky and life was full of challenges.

Then followed a teenage marriage with a child due. Graeme Horncastle gritted his teeth and was determined to make a go of it.

He was succeeding but then tragedy intervened with the loss of a daughter, the aftermath of
grief and despair, alcoholism, depression, marital crisis and attempted suicide.

Then slowly Graeme, with support, dragged himself up and got his life back together again.
Today the Horncastle family own and operate the Pavilions Hotel in Christchurch.

Born in Blenheim in September 1951, Graeme returned to Marlborough and in particular Picton where he and his wife Maureen took over Oxley's Tavern.

Naturally he rubbed shoulders with well-known locals including Trevor Norton and Rex McManaway. Then Australia and then to Christchurch where the author tells of the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

The book is well produced under the guidance of Christchurch literary agent and
editor Mike Bradstock. Well illustrated, it makes for absorbing reading.

Graeme is honest, at times almost brutally, but the stories and incidents range from
laughter to tears.

There's never been a dull moment in Graeme Horncastle's life with its highs and lows.
That is relayed to the reader for an entertaining read.

Excellently priced, it's well recommended.

Click here to order your book

Room to spare for quake staff


Owners of The Pavillions Hotel Maureen and Graeme Horncastle.INTERVIEW from The Press & by Alan Wood
July 7, 2011

The Pavilions Hotel looks fine at first glance, and a walk around the property proves it to be a working, four-star operation, albeit one affected by up to $4 million in damage caused by earthquakes.

Nevertheless, Graeme and Maureen Horncastle have redoubled their efforts to help the Christchurch hospitality industry through a difficult period. The Horncastles have been at the Papanui Rd site since 1992 when, taking advantage of a downturn in the property market, they paid around $2.8 million for what was a 70-room operation.

The Pavilions Hotel now has 85 rooms, which have been offered to emergency service and quake recovery staff working... read full story on The Press Website

Click here to order your book


from Westport News by Mary Warren
June 21, 2011

Horncastle's Suitcase

This is a good read especially if you are interested in a brutally honest account of the way
it was on the West Coast (and elsewhere) in the mid to late 1900s. Because I lived and worked (was a school dental nurse) in Karamea for three years, the book brought back many happy memories of the late 60s.

You have to admire Graeme Horncastle for being completely frank in this book. It is well written and should appeal to a wide audience interested in the trials and tribulations of family life.
Of its nature, it is turbulent, downright honest, and it involves the reader; I could hardly put it down.


Horncastle lays bare his life from early childhood to the present day, from humble beginnings to success and then tragedy, despair, alcoholism, depression and crisis after crisis. But then he beat the odds, helped by a loving family, whom he had put to the test, and many good friends.

The story is uplifting and when you finish the read, if you're like me, you'll be wondering what's next for Graeme Horncastle.

The book is available at local bookstores.
Mary Warren

Click here to order your book

Otago Daily Times
Online Edition Sat, 18 June 2011

Review by Ian Williams


Readers expecting to yawn their way through another self-published family indulgence will be pleasantly surprised when they open Horncastle's Suitcase. From the dramatic opening, with his mother giving birth to three-month premature twins on D'Urville Island, to the final wrap-up with a granddaughter describing the author in his role as mine host of the family-owned Pavilions Hotel in Christchurch, I enjoyed every word.


Perhaps that's because Graeme Horncastle writes, and writes about, Kiwi blokes and their families, with a Barry Crumpish tone and swagger. Originally from Nelson, the family moved about a bit before Graeme's father, Jim, made what turned out to be a bad decision by buying a swampy 300-acre dairy unit at the mouth of the Little Wanganui River, near Karamea, on the northwest coast of the South Island. Readers familiar with West Coast folklore - ruggedly independent types doing their thing - can imagine the number eight wire scenario.

The family never made enough money from the farm to make a living, which meant Jim had to turn a very practical hand to devise other means, including building fishing boats and taking on a milk-delivery run in Westport. Meanwhile, mother Noeline kept the family fed and clothed between pregnancies, 12 in all.


As painted by Graeme Horncastle, Jim is one of New Zealand's great eccentrics, and with such a role model it's easy to see why Graeme inherited some of his less desirable characteristics, including a love for beer, consumed in pubs after hours as was the West Coast style. Years later, with his parents long gone, and his own marriage in tatters due to a drinking problem and the early death of a beloved daughter, Graeme finds an old suitcase of his father's in the attic.

Containing papers, letters and photographs from the Horncastle family's distant past, it provides the perfect antidote for grief and depression, and the stimulus to put his family's story down on paper. This includes a steady rise up the business ladder due to hard work and business acumen, ably assisted by his wife, Maureen.


With a narrative that seldom flags, handsomely presented glossy paper stock, and lots of photographs, readers can share in the highs and lows of the Horncastle family and perhaps wonder what it is about Kiwis that makes us such interesting people.





Westport Hotel Tue 31 May
and Pavilions Hotel Christchurch Thur 2 June, 2011






A successful book launch was delivered in Westport and Christchurch with over 150 people attending both events. There were many familiar faces, including Pat McManus, Mayor of Westport, old school friends and business acquaintances. see photos


His Daughter, Debbie, introduced the night with a warm welcome and her heart felt admiration for her father. She quickly set the tone with humourous anecdotes and words to illicit a tear to even the most hardened men there.


Graeme spoke about why he wrote the book, the old times, the good times... and why one should buy the book- and buy the book they did. After a thorough course of hilarious stories and tales of significant hardship, he had a way of talking about himself and his family that left you with nothing but admiration and respect. Graeme autographed dozens of books on the night and his quick wit was well received.


“Thank you from myself, Maureen, and my family for being part of our past and present.” Graeme Horncastle


For the whole video collection of interviews an presentations I invite you to visit my YOUTUBE Channel here>

Book signing

Signing book for National Bank Manager Brent Crisp


click to view larrger version

click to read larger version

Click here to order your book

The New Jimmy's Bar


After years of thought, engineering prowess and bureaucratic paperwork- and undying perseverance, you will now find a Morris Minor, a pink and blue tractor and original Indian motorbike all elevated on display in the courtyard of Jimmy's Bar at the Pavilions Hotel in Christchurch. This is the latest addition to the Hall of Fame that the Horncastle family is renowned for. Each piece has a colourful history and it is only fitting that you should pay the hotel a visit and see it for yourself. You will get the full story from Graeme himself as he never tires of reliving his family past.


Graeme with display


To get a taste of the what we mean, please click here to view the 360 degree virtual tour of Jimmy's Bar- and meet the man who makes it all happen every day of the year- Graeme Horncastle.

Book Signing


Come on in to The Pavilions Hotel and get a personally autographed copy of Horncastle's Suitcase. Graeme is the author,owner and operator along with his wife Maureen and daughter Debbie. Make an event of it and have dinner in the Pavilions Cafe- best on-the-bone steak in Christchurch! Or sit down with Graeme in Jimmy's Bar and get a sense of the man on his incredible journey.


Graeme with his new book


Pavilions Hotel


Pavilions Hotel Christchurch
42 Papanui Road,
PO Box 25-061

Phone: +64 3 355 5633
Freephone: 0800 80 55 55
Fax: +64 3 355 3554


Pavilions Hotel