Rotorua Daily Post health and business reporter

Iwi group step in to complete dementia village development

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WORK CONTINUES: Work on Whare Aroha CARE's new development at Ngongotaha is progressing. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
WORK CONTINUES: Work on Whare Aroha CARE's new development at Ngongotaha is progressing. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

A state-of-the-art dementia village in Ngongotaha, Rotorua will be completed after a local iwi group stepped in to take over the project and fund the rest of the development.

Pukeroa Oruawhata Group will take ownership of the land and buildings and fund the rest of the development - expected to cost about $8.7 million.

It is in the process of purchasing the land and buildings.

The village, the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific region, is based on the acclaimed Dutch dementia village De Hogeweyk. Designed to look like a typical New Zealand town, it will allow people to live in households, with their own kitchens, dining rooms and laundries, and feature a lakeside promenade, supermarket and cafe.

Whare Aroha CARE, which is owned and managed by Rotorua Continuing Care Trust, purchased the 1.3ha Taui St site and started work on the village but was unable to secure the necessary funding to complete the development.

Pukeroa Oruawhata Group general manager Peter Faulkner said it decided to purchase the property at Ngongotaha because of a social obligation to see the project completed.

"The benefit to the community of doing so was so great that we believed that we had a responsibility to step in to ensure the interests of our kuia and kaumatua, staff of the trust and the contractors who are working on site were looked after."

Mr Faulkner said the group had reached an agreement with the trust to step in to complete the development.

He said the decision came after the group was made aware that the trust was unable to secure the necessary funding to complete the development and needed help to see the development through to completion.

Mr Faulkner said Pukeroa Oruawhata Group was looking to assume the responsibility for funding the village through to completion. He said the exact cost was still being worked through but he expected it to be around $8.7m.

He said by stepping in, the site, which is an innovative approach to aged care in New Zealand, would be completed.

"The first stages of the development are scheduled for completion prior to Christmas this year and we see no reason this should change."

Mr Faulkner said it had made the offer to the trust on the basis that the trust continued its involvement with the operation of the village under a lease arrangement.

"This allows the RCCT to focus on its core business of delivering quality care to our pakeke [elderly] without the distractions of having to complete a large scale building development.

He said the village would be owned by a Pukeroa Oruawhata Group entity.

Trust chairman Ron Finn said Whare Aroha CARE had been working hard to secure funding when Pukeroa stepped in offering to complete the arrangements.

He said at the current site the organisation leased land and buildings from Pukeroa Oruawhata so the longstanding partnership would continue.

Mr Finn said contractors had been paid on time and in full, and Pukeroa Oruawhata's involvement would "enable contractual obligations continue to be met and the project to be seen through to completion".

Mr Finn said it was working through the details of what would happen to the grants it had been given, however the organisation's charitable status would not be impacted by Pukeroa Oruawhata's involvement.

Last year BayTrust conditionally committed to providing Whare Aroha Care with a $1.5m low-interest loan but said yesterday the group had advised it they were exploring other options.

THE DEVELOPMENT
- Located on a 1.3ha site on Taui St
- Based on the acclaimed De Hogeweyk model
- Will initially cater for about 80 residents
- Due to open early next year

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