When Helen and Walter Annett want to imagine what life will be like in their new home at Ryman’s Hobsonville retirement village, they need only look out of their lounge room window.
There, just a few metres down the road, is the construction site with its landmark tower crane steadily bringing their apartment block out of the ground.
“We’re in the block next to the church,” says Walter. “They’re putting the frames on the far one now.”
The couple say they have been ‘westies all our lives’, and for several generations too.
Walter’s grandfather was the second settler in Kumeu in 1886, and Walter was born in Muriwai on land which they farmed until his parents moved to Te Atatu.
Helen’s grandfather owned the former brickworks on Hepburn Road which is now Delegats wine estate; her dad had a business in Henderson and she went to primary school in Titirangi.
Even though their next move is still firmly in the area, Helen says Walter took longer to convince that retirement living was for them.
“I was quite keen to come and I think it’s good to do it when there’s two of you,” says Helen.
“I think it will be good not to worry about maintaining the house and gardens, it’s going to be so much easier.”
Walter agreed the time was right and the pair took the plunge, buying a property from the plans for the first time ever.
Their three children, who have also remained out west, are glad their parents will still be close by and Walter and Helen are pleased to keep all their local connections intact.
For Walter, as a life member of the Hobsonville Bowling Club who runs the bar and helps to maintain the greens, staying local was essential.
“A few at the club are showing an interest at moving into the village too but I think they’re waiting for us to report back first,” he laughs.
Both have been actively involved in the community all their lives, including 30-plus years with the Lions and Lioness Clubs and lately Probus and U3A.
Walter, who along with Helen’s brother Don, ran a service station in Te Atatu for 30 years becoming Mobil’s second highest re-sellers in New Zealand.
He has also been associated with a number of other local organisations in the west and up in Waipu, where the couple have had a permanent site at the campground for 50 years.
“I’m a Kumeu Show life member too and I have been mixed up with surf lifesaving for 50-60 years.
“I’m a founding member of the Muriwai Surfing Club and an honoured member at Waipu and was judging for them up until five years ago. I was also club manager for a time.
“We travelled quite a bit in those days but age catches up with you!”
This was brought home to Walter, a keen hunter, fisherman and diver, when he had to have a triple bypass: “They pulled the plug on my diving!” he says ruefully.
Helen enjoys spending time with her friends and going to the local gym and is keen to keep up the fitness when she moves into the village but on a more moderate scale after a recent fall damaged her back.
“I’d love to try tai chi and my physio said water walking would be good for me so I will be trying the pool. I play Mah Jong so I would be interested in that as well.”
Now, with their clear view of the progress on their new home, all that’s left is to sell the house and prepare to enjoy their new home.
Says Helen: “Everything seems to fall into place. We’ve just welcomed our first great-grandchild into the world so it will be nice spending time with her rather than mowing the lawns.”