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Prior to the establishment of the Veterans Home (as it was first known) in 1903, the land was owned by Alfred Buckland, a prominent Auckland businessman and land-owner (Buckland’s Beach was named after him). The 223 hectares operated as a farm and was known as “Three Kings Farm”.
The establishment of the Veterans Home came about at the suggestion of Lord Ranfurly, then Governor General of New Zealand, when peace was declared after the Boer War in South Africa in 1902. He was a man of considerable compassion and vision. By this time in New Zealand there was an aging veteran population. The first occupants of the Ranfurly Veterans Home when it opened in 1903 included veterans of the Crimean War (1854-1856) and New Zealand Wars (1845-1872).
“His Excellency laid the foundation stone of the Veterans Home at the Three Kings Farm. The selection of the date was happy, being that chosen for the celebration of Empire Day, more particularly because also the home is intended to serve a second purpose in becoming a national memorial to those New Zealand heroes who, to the number of more than 200, laid down their lives for the Empire in South Africa.”
Lord Ranfurly 1902
From the outset, The Ranfurly Veterans Home was considered a place of privilege. The Home was not a charity for people who couldn’t afford to take care of themselves, but rather, the inhabitants were pensioned servicemen who had earned the privilege of living there by fighting for their country.
It is interesting to note that the Ranfurly Veterans Home had a unique point of difference in that accommodation for couples was to be provided. This acknowledged the service of women during war time and also the importance of the family unit in NZ society.
Like many historic buildings, time has not been kind to Ranfurly War Veterans Home and Hospital as it is currently known today, and in addition the number of veterans has slowly dwindled which caused its owner, The Ranfurly Trust, to review its future. The dilemma the Trust faced was the need for urgent and substantial renovations, without any major funding base in difficult economic times.
After considering a number of proposals, the Trust settled on a partnership with Christchurch based Generus Living Group, to develop the site.
The site development is now well underway with the completion of a new 60 bed hospital in November 2013. The next phase of the development is underway which includes the restoration of the Historic House and the building of a Retirement Village.
Winkelmann, Henry 1860-1931: Captain & Mrs Goodwyn-Archer with residents. Alexander Turnbull Library