Police investigating a fire at the Pinelands Hotel in Kawerau say the publican was beaten, bound and doused with accelerant, then made to watch his livelihood burn to the ground.
Police in Whakatane say an extensive scene examination has confirmed that the fire on 2 July was deliberately lit.
They are now seek two men who attacked the publican, stole spirits and cash, then set fire to the hotel.
Police also want to find a woman who may have been waiting outside in a car to pick the men up afterward.
They want to hear from anyone in eastern Bay of Plenty who has noticed someone with unexplained quantities of alcohol or cash.