The Bay of Plenty turned on a typical warm sunny day for the opening of Pacific Coast Village’s striking new Beach House.

A moving powhiri set the tone for the occasion, and helped mark the partnership between local iwi, Mangatawa and village operators, Generus Living Group.

It has been a while since my last visit to Pacific Coast Village, situated across the road from the beach at Mount Maunganui. I recall meeting Generus director Graham Wilkinson there several years ago, in the village’s early days. Back then, while the village undoubtedly showed signs of promise, the GFC had taken its toll and progress was slow.

The village’s unhurried start was hard to fathom today, as the new Beach House – a large multi-purpose lounge, dining and entertainment facility – joins a bustling village with a range of facilities including an indoor swimming pool, bowling green and Summer House.

Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell was there to cut the ribbon, assisted by the first two residents of the village. Maxwell had assured Wilkinson she was happy to be on ribbon-cutting duties, but had expressed some reluctance to participating in a game of bowls as is often tradition when opening retirement villages.

“I told Diane that our residents are likely to be more interested in her barista skills than her bowling skills,” said Wilkinson.

He’s got a point. The residents at Pacific Coast Village are symbolic of many older New Zealanders these days, who, as Maxwell said in her address, “want to be doing things and not sitting in a chair knitting”.

“In a few years there will be over 1.3 million New Zealanders over the age of 65, and we’ll need to prepare for that,” said Maxwell.

However, Wilkinson is conscious that providing a continuum of care, while perhaps not top priority for his residents today, is an important fixture in his villages. As such, the next fixture at Pacific Coast Village will be a care facility.

Earlier this week, Wilkinson spoke to NBR about the merits of a continuum of care model as a means of catering for residents needs both now and in the future. As an example he said that while there was a currently a large number of campervans owned by Pacific Coast residents he expected to see the number decrease following as the residents aged and their needs changed.

The prospect of care delivery was certainly far from residents’ minds today, however, as they sipped sauvignon blanc with Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless, Retirement Village Assocation board members, councillors, contractors, bankers and architects – all present to witness the opening of an impressive building.

Inevitably a similar group will be meeting again in due course. During today’s proceedings it was announced that Generus has extended its partnership with Mangatawa and is building a further village across the road inland from Pacific Coast.

The NBR interview with Graham Wilkinson can be accessed here: GenerusWilkinson_FINAL UPDATE

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