Work will get under way this week on a new $14 million state of the art retirement village which developers believe will transform age care in the country.

An official groundbreaking ceremony was held at Whare Aroha CARE's new Taui St site yesterday, with the facility expected to open next December.

The village, inspired by acclaimed Dutch dementia village De Hogeweyk, will be the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific area.

It has been modelled to look like a typical New Zealand town with a main street including supermarket, cafe, hairdressers and clubrooms which flows down to a lakeside promenade.


Residents will live in one of 12 six or seven bedroom households which are each designed to represent different New Zealand lifestyles. Like-minded people would live together in a setting that reflected the way they lived before they moved into care. The households would be run like a typical household where residents would be helped by staff to run their own homes, including cooking meals and doing laundry.

 An artist's impressions of what the new facility will look like. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
An artist's impressions of what the new facility will look like. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Project manager Deanna Smit said the project would cost about $14 million. The trust was about to launch into a fundraising campaign which it hoped would raise between $2 million and $4 million as funding had fallen short of being able to include the "town hall" - a community centre that would be open to the public, as well as other community facilities like a children's playground.

Whare Aroha CARE is wholly owned by the Rotorua Continuing Care Trust - a not-for-profit charitable trust. Ms Smit said the project had attracted significant interest from around the country and the founders of De Hogeweyk planned to travel to Rotorua early next year to help out.

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Dementia village set to change face of care

"Once we started talking about it people have been going 'why hasn't it been done anywhere else'. We've had to have some courage to do something really different."

Experts in aged care from Auckland University of Technology were also looking into the work being done in Rotorua, she said.

General manager Therese Jeffs said it was about standing up and saying it was not okay to institutionalise the elderly. "It's really exciting that our vision to not just change, but revolutionise the way people are cared for, is starting to come to fruition. We are a community trust so we will need the financial support of the community to see it through but it is just great to celebrate the start of the construction.

"When people understand what's going on around them, and aren't confused by an unfamiliar environment, they are content. And when they are content, they are well. It's simple really, only until now, this isn't how aged-care homes have been designed."


Bay of Plenty company Canam Construction has been appointed as the head contractor for the build.