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One of Whanganui’s architectural treasures has been officially reopened to the public.

Jane Winstone Chapel was reopened by Whanganui Mayor Annette Main and Ryman Healthcare Managing Director Simon Challies today (note: Friday March 14).

Ryman Healthcare invested $1 million in a nine-month restoration prompted by the need to get the chapel earthquake strengthened.

Mayor Annette Main said: “The chapel has been an important venue in our community for many years and I’m delighted that Ryman Healthcare has recognised that and restored the chapel in keeping with its original character.

“It is a place where many people have marked significant occasions in their lives and it has also been a wonderful venue to celebrate our arts and culture with concerts and other events.

“I know that the Jane Winstone residents and the wider community appreciate the commitment Ryman Healthcare has shown in ensuring the chapel can continue to be part of our community’s fabric in the future.”

Ryman Managing Director Simon Challies said the nine-month restoration had been well worth the effort.

“We did a handshake deal when we bought the site in 2004 that we’d protect the chapel for the Sisters of St Joseph. We’re proud to have honoured that deal – we believe it is an absolute treasure that deserved protection.’’

“It has always been in demand for weddings and other celebrations. It holds a special place in the hearts of many people of this community and will continue to do so for a long time.’’

“As well as a testament to the skills of the people who built it, it is now a showcase for the great skills of the Whanganui people who have carried out such a superb restoration.’’ 

The chapel was built by the Sisters of St Joseph in 1918 as part of the Sacred Heart College campus on St Johns Hill.

Conservation architect Antony Matthews said the chapel was built in a Gothic revival style and

“It’s a great thing for Ryman to have undertaken – at not inconsiderable cost. The restoration is in keeping with the heritage values of the building. The chapel is an important reminder of the old convent school on the sight and is also important to the wider community.

“Not only is the exterior preserved now, its interior is also in really good condition.’’

The restoration work included demolishing the old concrete buttresses, putting in new steel and concrete reinforcing, and then building new buttresses in keeping with the originals.

Sacred Heart was closed in 2002 and Ryman opened the Jane Winstone Retirement Village on the site in 2006.

The village was named in honour of Jane Winstone, a Sacred Heart old girl. She was New Zealand’s youngest female pilot and served during World War 2 as a pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary.

She was killed when the engine on her Spitfire failed on a delivery flight.

The Jane Winstone Retirement Village provides independent living, assisted living and care facilities for residents.


About Ryman Healthcare: Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies.  The company owns 26 villages and serves over 7,000 residents in New Zealand and Australia.  Each village offers a combination of retirement living and aged care.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Corporate Affairs Manager David King on 03 366 4069 or 021 499 602.

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