Delighted residents of the Mt Albert apartments at Ranfurly Village gathered for the opening of the new drawing room on the lower floor of the historic Veterans Home. A local landmark, the Home was funded by a national patriotic appeal sponsored by the Governor, His Excellency, the Fifth Earl of Ranfurly, who laid the foundation stone on Empire Day, the 24th of May 1903. Less than seven months later, on the 10th of December, the Home was opened with forty veterans in residence.
Over 100 years later, and through changes of ownership, Ranfurly has always been a haven for veterans. However as the World War II cohort diminished the number of veterans requiring residential care declined. At the same time the accommodation, largely built in the 1950s and 60s, required considerable refurbishment or replacement. An agreement with Retirement Assets Ltd has resulted in the revitalisation of the historic property, the building of new apartments and has given the Ranfurly Trust the financial foundation to continue its work supporting veterans.
Many of the residents of the new apartments have long been familiar with the sight of the grand old veterans home. Ted and Violet Clark lived for 46 of their 63 year marriage in Catherine Street, Onehunga, and never imagined the historic building would become the social centre of their lives. But, Violet says, they have not given their family home a thought since they moved into their “absolutely beautiful new apartment”. They were impressed with their first sight of the refurbished drawing room, which was effectively kept under wraps until the grand opening.
Rod and Tricia Moss share the Clark’s enthusiasm. They lived in Titirangi for nearly 48 years, and looked at nearly a dozen retirement villages before feeling an instant affinity for Ranfurly. Tricia says she feels like she is on a permanent holiday.
Ranfurly Home is dedicated as a national memorial to New Zealanders who died in the South African War. The roll of honour in the foyer records the names of 272 New Zealanders who died while serving in the ten New Zealand Mounted Rifles contingents or in British army units. This also has been refurbished and restored to its former glory.
Story by Sue Newton, Onehunga Community News
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