Village News

Couple moved to a 'building site'

23 April 2024

Orion Point residents Graham and Di

First published in the New Zealand Herald.

This is the fourth in a series of sponsored stories by ZB’s Kerre Woodham in which Kerre examines life in Metlifecare retirement villages through the eyes of residents – how they came to be there, what shaped their choice of village and their life in residence. Today: How Dianne and Graham joined a village containing only two other people.

Most new Metlifecare residents are met by a welcoming committee when they move into their retirement village. They’re shown around the fulsome facilities and can’t wait to swim laps of the sparkling blue pool, invite friends to lunch at the village cafe and sign up for all the activities on offer.

When Dianne and Graham moved into Metlifecare Orion Point, in Hobsonville, a year ago, they became 50 per cent of the entire population – no cafe, no facilities and only one block of apartments completed, with the rest of the village under construction.

They had moved from their comfortable home in Orewa, with loads of friends in the neighbourhood, to what was essentially a building site with only two other residents. What on earth were they thinking?

“We didn’t want to go into an established place,” Dianne laughs. “We wanted to go into a village with people of a similar age where we could all grow old together.”

They also wanted to secure the apartment they fell in love with when they were looking around different villages. Graham says they had to grab it before anyone else did.

“And to be fair, we didn’t really have a choice”, explains Dianne. “We thought it would take a while to sell our place in Orewa but, as it turned out, it sold very quickly. So we told Metlifecare we wanted to move in and they said “That’s fine. You’ll be number 2!”

The fact both Dianne and Graham have a background in building meant they could see the potential of Orion Point. Where others might have only seen dust and diggers, they saw the potential and it’s more than lived up to their expectations.

“We knew that because we were coming in early, we wouldn’t have too many facilities at first and that didn’t bother us,” says Dianne. “An awful lot of people don’t want to do that. For us, it’s been a real journey watching this village grow. We started with nothing, just scaffolding around the place, and we couldn’t really see what was going on.

“Then, all of a sudden, they took the covers off and there was this beautiful building and we thought ‘Wow, this is amazing.’”

Coming in so early in the village’s development, the skeleton staff became like family to Dianne and Graham. Morning teas and happy hours were taken with the manager, the assistant manager and the handyman. As each new person arrives at the village, they’re welcomed with open arms.

Their decision to move to their new home at Orion Point was made to be closer to family after Graham had a bit of a health scare.

“The family had a hui and went through the pros and cons of moving into a village,” says Graham, “and we decided that we needed to be closer to the kids. Our son said it isn’t a swing by to go to Orewa – it’s a destination place to go. Now they’re just twenty minutes away. They’ve all been here since it’s been finished and they all love it.”

Orion Point is very much part of the Hobsonville community. Dianne persuaded the Zumba instructor to move her class up to the village and the local Pilates instructor moved her group into the activities room at the village as well. The Hobsonville Coastal Point walkway runs through the main street of Orion Point and families, runners and dog walkers walk through the village every day.

“The last thing we wanted to do,” says Graham, “is live in a prison.” Dianne agrees. “We sit out there at night with a glass of wine and wave to all the people as they go past. People watching is so much fun.”

The beautiful swimming pool complex has recently opened; the café and bar are now open to residents. The Pavilion has been a part of the village since it opened shortly after Dianne and Graham’s arrival and it’s a wonderful, multi-purpose facility.

“You can book it for all sorts of things,” Dianne says. “We had a family dinner there and that was a huge success. One of the residents holds his Forest and Bird meetings there; another lady has a book club there once a month – it’s a really good utility space and simply a matter of booking it.”

Graham loves the media room at the village too, especially for watching the big games. He and Dianne are rugby fans but when they moved to Orion Point, it was the Warriors big season and, as more and more new residents arrived, the team became the talk of the village.

“There are so many Warriors fans here we thought, if we can’t beat ‘em, we’ll join them. Up the Wahs!”

Graham and Dianne can’t hide their pride at the village they call home, the village they have watched grow.

“It’s new, its beautiful, it has all the facilities you could ever want, we can walk everywhere, and we’ll have the ability to move into care suites when we need to,” Dianne says.

“Most of the people here are in our age group, in their 70s. With the people who are here already and those coming in, we’ll have a group that will be our friends always. We have absolutely no regrets about coming to Orion Point.”

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