Village ready for residents

Fiordland Retirement Housing Trust trustees and Southland District Deputy Mayor Ebel Kremer and Fiordland Community Board chairwoman Sarah Greaney at the entrance to the officially opened Murchison Villas.

IT was the determination and persistence of the late Te Anau district nurse Marion Davenport which saw Murchison Villas open in the town on December 2.

Southland District Mayor Gary Tong officially opened the residential development with a group of 60 residents, their families, friends, and those involved in bringing the project to completion.

After Mrs Davenport approached the Wallace County Council (now Southland District Council) with a proposal for a retirement village more than three decades ago, a 6400sq m piece of land was set aside.

The council agreed to allocate a block next to the Fiordland Medical Centre, where it sat for the next 30 years.

Throughout the years, various members of the building fraternity looked at the proposal but none took it up.

Fiordland Retirement Housing Body Corporation chairman Alan Paterson said it was Glenys Johnstone who initiated the setting up of a steering committee in 2014.

“In 2015, the steering committee set up the Fiordland Retirement Housing Trust (FRHT) with the aim of not-for profit development in collaboration with SDC and Brian McCandless was elected chairman and Glenys Johnstone as the secretary. Glenys was secretary for some time and Johnstone Court in the Village is named in recognition of her considerable involvement.”

FRHT developed a business case and the land originally earmarked for retirement housing 30 years prior, was subsequently sold by the district council to the trust for $1.

Most of the funding was sourced from the Community Trust of Southland (now Community Trust South) at below commercial interest rate.

There was also support from other charitable trusts and Te Anau Community Board. Stage one with 10 units was completed in 2019 and stage two with 13 units completed in October this year, Mr Paterson said.

Mr McCandless said the total project costs amounted to about $7 million with three-bedroomed homes priced at $450,000 and two-bedroomed, $350,000.

Murchison Villas homes would be owned 100% freehold and when the owner passed away, their estate would sell the property.

“The trustees all gave their time for nearly seven years at no cost to the project. Without the input from Sarah Greaney, Ann Carran, Ross Cockburn, Ebel Kremer, Owen Buckingham and David Boniface, this community-focused project would not have been possible, with Jane Grant providing invaluable support in setting up the Body Corporate,” Mr McCandless said.

Mrs Davenport’s effort was also recognised with one of the streets in the complex named after her. Husband Colin and daughter Sandra were at the opening representing their wife and mother.