Jane Mander Retirement Village officially turned 10 years old this month and held a special celebration to mark the occasion last week.
There were decorations and party poppers plus a giant birthday cake was shared out while a fantastic photo montage of the many good times marked at the Whangarei village over the years was played on the big screen.
Village Manager Wendy Turner opened the event by giving a brief biography of the village namesake, Jane Mander and detailing her connection to the area.
The journalist and writer, who once edited the Dargaville North Auckland Times, wrote six novels.
Her most well known and highly praised work, The Story of a New Zealand River (1920) is said to have been a significant influence on the Jane Campion film The Piano.
After long spells living in New York and London she returned to New Zealand in 1932 and spent her final days in Whangarei before her death in 1949 aged 72.
Wendy, who has been manager for three years, said the village was officially opened by then Mayor Stan Semenoff on 12 February 2010.
The first residents to move in – Frank and Jennifer Taylor – actually moved in earlier, on 4 May 2009.
Wendy said of the 180 staff now on the books, four of them had been at the village since the beginning with the first employee being much-loved gardener Jason van-der-Hulst, plus John Walton, Barbie Bickerton and Sue Gemmell.
As the first, Jason was given the honour of revealing the 10th birthday plaque and delivered a short speech reflecting on his time working at Jane Mander.
“In that time I reckon I have trimmed the hedges 50 times, I have mowed the lawns 400 times and I’ve pulled out 82,917 weeds!” he said, prompting a big laugh.
He praised Wendy for building a strong and stable management team and said the highlights for him had been winning the Allied Employee of the Year award 2012 and being part of Ryman’s entry into the New Zealand Flower and Garden Show in 2018.
“And the other highlight would have to be kale mountain,” he said, referring to the garden display near the bowling green which he planted out with a different coloured kale.
“I think I got the biggest number of comments ever as far as our annual displays go,” he said.
After the plaque was unveiled, Deputy Village Manager Krister Borja played a wonderful montage of photos taken by staff and residents over the past decade.
“Jane Mander has gone from strength to strength and in 2019 we won the coveted Village of the Year award,” said Wendy.
Finally, Wendy invited the village’s most senior resident, 104-year-old Ella Bayes, to cut the cake which was then shared out amongst everyone at the celebratory morning tea.
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