Hundreds of residents and team members joined with the Devonport community to celebrate the grand opening of William Sanders Retirement Village.
Matua Matt Maihi, kaumatua of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei got the evening under way with a karakia to bless proceedings.
Commodore Andrew Brown, deputy chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy, said it was pleasing to see the former navy land put to good use.
“When you decided to name the village after William Sanders VC, we were doubly delighted.
“Not only have you invested in the Devonport community, but you have also made this place into a lasting memorial to William Sanders one of our own.’’
The kaumatua bless the mauri stone.
Ryman New Zealand CEO Cheyne Chalmers said the village was the result of a huge amount of work by hundreds of committed people.
More than 2.1 million hours of work had gone into the construction of the village, 582,000 bricks had been laid and 20,000 perennials, trees and shrubs had been planted.
“It is an enormous amount of work and commitment – including coping with COVID and all the challenges that posed, Cheyne said.
“It is humbling for me to represent so many people...
“So many people have put their hearts and souls into this place. It is a tribute to them.’’
Cheyne had a long list of thank yous for team members including:
Matt Bell, Matt Hutchinson, Matt Brown, Taylor Allison, Sara McCunnie, Nathan Tahi, John Gavin, Rachel Lalor, Mike Adair, Bianca de Agrella, Tenille Pickett, Laura Moffett, Nicole Hurford, Joe Won, Kris Perkins, Pele Vaaga, Rick Moller, Jim Otimi, Declan Rhodes, Kaniata Halanukonuka, Doug Holt, Gurpreet Bedi, Awanui Tangiia, Pete Allport, Krista Lee, Glenn Scott, Raghad Asmaro, Kevin Higgins, Mark Cooper, Janet Coutts, Dell Smythe, Scott Bremner, Murray Bain, Prince Pagtanac, Girley Pingol, Satbir Kaur, Snap Venturanza, Con van Niekerk, Karyn Nobilo, Lynn Charlton, Anne Hall, Jill Gregson and Maryvonne Gray.
Village resident Glennys Adams, great niece of William Sanders, (centre left) with Rebecca Nelson, Commodore Andrew Brown and other navy representatives standing in front of the portrait of William Sanders (above) and (below) Rebecca Nelson sings for the audience.
But she saved the biggest thank you of all for the residents who had made William Sanders their home.
“Thank you for putting your trust in us, and for your patience as we have worked through the challenges of COVID.
“William Sanders Retirement Village is all yours now.
“It is your home, your place. We want it to be a home you can be proud of.
“We also want to make sure that it is a place where your families – your children, grandchildren and in some cases great-grandchildren – love to come and visit and feel welcome.
“We want them to feel as comfortable here as you do.’’
Royal New Zealand Navy band member Rebecca Nelson entertained the guests with a beautiful set of songs, rounding off a wonderful evening.
Residents pose with Sub Lieutenant James Olsen.