Hohepa Hawke's Bay celebrated 60 years with an anniversary lunch last weekend.

More than 100 families from around the country gathered for the event which included a speech from resident Tessa Selwyn and local MPs.

Ms Selwyn, who has lived at Hohepa since 1988, entertained the crowd with a speech about politics including offering her own insights into the recent election.

She has always had an interest in politics and recently secured an Inclusive NZ grant to research the attitudes of parliamentarians towards people with disabilities.


Hohepa regional board chairperson Shelly Witchalls also announced the recent appointment of Santiago De Marco as Hohepa's new general manager.

This follows the retirement of Andy White earlier this year.

Mr De Marco, who is Argentinian by birth and has been working at Hohepa for more than 18 years, said he initially came to Hohepa to work for three months.

He lives with his family at Poraiti near the Hohepa children's community he has been part of for nearly two decades.

Freshly elected local MPs Lawrence Yule and Stuart Nash, as well as Napier mayor Bill Dalton spoke about their connections with Hohepa over the years.

The stories of a bygone era were recounted with the exploits of the now legendary Hohepa founder Sir Lewis Harris, at the forefront of these reflections.

Mr Dalton said Hohepa had played a central role in reflecting a caring Hawke's Bay community.

Long before anywhere else, Hawke's Bay people embraced those with intellectual disabilities, he said.

"Our community was the forerunner of an inclusive society."

Sixty years ago our community opened its doors to Hohepa, for people of all abilities to participate equally, the Napier mayor said.

The organisation was also good business for the region as Napier's fourth largest employer which brought in $20 million to the region annually.