A boom of retirement village developments could add $117m - and hundreds of jobs - to the Bay of Plenty economy.

Since 2015, 472 building consents worth $270m have been secured for retirement village developments in Tauranga, according to Priority One.

In January 2019 alone, 10 consents worth $30m were granted.

Priority One projects manager Annie Hill said there had been a strong increase in consent numbers for retirement villages in recent years.


This reflected a range of factors - Tauranga's popularity as a retirement location, the increasing options in retirement lifestyles here and the rapidly ageing population in the country and overseas.

In March last year, the Retirement Villages Association of New Zealand commissioned a PwC report that indicated the sector would make a substantial economic contribution.

The report stated there were 12 villages with 870 units in the development phase, and another six brand new villages with 540 villas or apartments on the drawing board.

These 1400 units were spread across the Bay of Plenty.

The report predicted the development of these new units could create 1700 full-time construction jobs and would generate $117 million for the local economy.

There was also the potential for 800 full-time roles in the completed villages - the roles included managers, chefs, caregivers, activities co-ordinators, cleaners, and clinicians.

Retirement Villages Association of New Zealand executive director John Collyns did not expect this development to slow soon - within 40 years, Generation X would be considering retirement options.

Locating the right land, in the right place, at the right price, was the main roadblock to the boom - along with finding skilled tradespeople to work on the construction sites.


Given the current labour shortage affecting the Bay of Plenty, finding permanent staff for the establishments could also be an issue.

This was more acute in the aged-care sector rather than retirement villages, however, as residents tended to be more dependent, he said.

The industry has lobbied to allow the sector to employ migrant workers and had worked with the Ministry of Social Development to slot New Zealanders on the benefit into industry jobs, he said.

Metlifecare chief executive officer Glen Sowry said it had two new care homes at Pāpāmoa Beach and The Avenues opening this year.

In Pāpāmoa, new villas were built every six months to meet the demand for a beachside retirement, while other villages, such as The Avenues, had short waiting lists.

Oceania Healthcare chief executive Earl Gasparich said the business was experiencing high demand for its new facilities in Tauranga.

Stage one of the redevelopment of the Bayview, formerly known as Melrose, was completed in October last year, comprising of a new facility with 81 suites.

Sixty-one residents from the old facility moved in before Christmas and there was "exceptionally high demand" for the remaining rooms.

The next stage of development will involve building 74 apartments and Gasparich expected high demand for these spaces.

Meanwhile, social gerontologist Carole Gordon blasted retirement villages an "urban failure" and "a disaster".

Retirement villages were a market response to the trap society had laid for itself - it had an increasingly older population, but no way to sustainably care for older people without them, she said.

Selling the family home to fund life in a retirement village also "destroyed the social and economic fabric" of a family, as future generations were not passed down the full value of the property value, she said.

Despite this, she did understand why people went into retirement villages - it was a good way to live out later life in comfort with social connections and smaller houses.

"It's a very attractive option."

Grey Power Tauranga president Jennifer Custins said the advocacy organisation received a lot of good feedback about retirement villages - some people found it was a safe and easy way to live out their retirement - there were downsides, she said.

This included the cost of many villages. People often ran out of money in their older years, especially if they lived longer than expected, and many could not afford to move into a village in the first place.

Rest homes were also private enterprises, so were entitled to increase the fees over time, she said.

Selling the family home early in their elderly years also meant retirees could miss out on property value increases over time.

It also could lead to people becoming isolated if they were disconnected from greater society - especially if they did not get visits from family or friends, she said.

Retirement village verdicts

Peter Norman

Peter Norman and Keryn Rennie moved into The Avenues three and a half years ago. Photo / Jean Bell
Peter Norman and Keryn Rennie moved into The Avenues three and a half years ago. Photo / Jean Bell

Peter Norman and partner Keryn Rennie moved into The Avenues three-and-a-half years ago.

Norman, 75, was born in the UK and moved to New Zealand in 1976. He worked in the corporate sector and the real estate industry before retiring.

He chose to make the move before he was forced to do so.

"It makes sense to look forward."

He found The Avenues a "fabulously located" place and enjoyed living there.

Janet Copsey

Janet Copsey moved over from England seven years ago.

Her son has lived here since 2002 and in 2012, 78-year-old Copsey and husband Maurice, 80, decided to make the move after holidaying in New Zealand multiple times.

The couple had settled in Pacific Coast Village, which she described as "very posh and up market" with the village "having everything you want".

The Copseys decided to move into a retirement village as they "weren't getting any younger" and it was good to know help would be on hand if needed.

The village had a great community feel to it and everybody talks to you, she said. With 300 residents living there, it was "like a town".

While the village was expensive, Copsey said they got lucky as the couple happened to move into a newly built block during the recession.

Gillian Buckley

Colin and Gillian Buckley say they are
Colin and Gillian Buckley say they are "living the dream". Photo / Andrew Warner

Former registered nurse Gillian Buckley, 75, moved into Pacific Coast Village with her retired automotive mechanic husband Colin, 79, nine years ago and has loved every minute.

The village ticked all the boxes - it a family feel to it, it was secure, and had plenty of social activities.

"We are living the dream," she said.

They used to live in New Plymouth and fell in love with the Bay of Plenty region after visiting their daughter who lived in Tauranga. The duo had also resolved to retire by the beach and from there, it all just fell into place.

She said the pair previously owned a two-storey home and not needing to worry about home maintenance was very freeing.

They had been on multiple overseas trips since moving into the village which was something that they weren't able to do previously.

Retirement villages in development in Bay of Plenty

Parewaitai Estates - Tauranga
Twin Oaks Ltd - Rotorua
Te Ngae Road Mixed Use Development - Rotorua
Lynmore Rise Retirement Village- Rotorua
Piripai Whakatāne - Whakatāne
Stewart Street Retirement Village - Whakatāne
Source: Retirement Villages Association
Retirement village expansions under way - as at November 2017

Bethlehem Country Club - 19 units
The Vines at Bethlehem - 132 units
Somervale - 30 units
Pacific Coast Village - 140 units
Pāpāmoa Beach Village - 63 units
Source: JLL New Zealand