THE RANFURLY TRUST – A History
The Auckland Veterans’ Home was founded by deed of trust in 1903. Funds to build the Home on its present site were obtained through a national patriotic appeal sponsored by the Governor, His Excellency, the Fifth Earl of Ranfurly.
The Home was dedicated as a national memorial to New Zealanders who died in the South African War 1899-1902. The roll of honour in the foyer of Ranfurly House records the names of 272 New Zealanders who died while serving in the ten New Zealand Mounted Rifles contingents or in British army units.
The foundation stone was laid by Lord Ranfurly on Empire Day (24 May) 1903 and the Home was opened on 10 December 1903 with forty veterans in residence, drawn from those who had served in the New Zealand Wars, the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny. The Home has been in continuous use since, serving the needs of veterans of the South African War, the First and Second World Wars, Jayforce, the Korean War, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam.
The Home was administered by a Board of Trustees until 1915 when ownership passed to the Auckland Provincial Patriotic War Relief Association. In 1941 a new constitution and rules were approved and the administering body was renamed the Auckland Veterans’ Home Board. In 1950 the Home was acquired by the NZ Patriotic and Canteen Funds Board and in 1954 the name was changed to the Ranfurly Veterans’ Home and Hospital to commemorate Lord Ranfurly’s pivotal role and foresight.
Considerable expansion of capacity and services took place over the next thirty years. At peak the facilities comprised an 83 bed rest home, a 35 bed hospital and a 24 bed dementia unit and employed over 100 full and part time staff.
In 2002 ownership of Ranfurly came full circle when the Patriotic and Canteen Funds Board returned Ranfurly to the Ranfurly Trust, a locally based Auckland trust established to continue caring for veterans.
The focus of the Trust remained the continued operation of Ranfurly and the care of veterans. However, as the World War II cohort diminished the number of veterans requiring residential care was steadily declining. At the same time the accommodation, largely built in the 1950s and 60s was out of date and required considerable refurbishment or replacement.
The Trustees gave considerable thought to these matters and to the future use of the land. It was determined that the Trust lacked the financial resources and ability to raise the money necessary to proceed with major works, particularly in a time of world recession and restricted Government spending.
In 2011 the Trustees finalised an agreement with a privately-owned retirement village operator, Retirement Assets Ltd, (RAL) to participate in a joint venture to redevelop the site. The Trust leased the land to RAL and the plans called for the provision of a 60 bed Hospital and Home, the refurbishment of Ranfurly House (the original Home) and the development of a retirement village of 170 apartments.
In 2012 operational management of the site was passed to RAL.
The new Ranfurly Hospital and Veterans’ Home was completed and occupied in November 2013. The first block of 27 apartments was completed in November 2015 and is fully occupied. The second block is under construction and due for completion in April 2016. Refurbishment of Ranfurly House has commenced.
The refurbishment of Ranfurly House will provide public rooms for the retirement village on the ground floor and offices on the upper floor from which the Ranfurly Veterans’ Trust and other Service welfare organisations will operate to provide services to the veteran community into the future.