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16 Dec 2020

Golden Jubilee celebrations for Papakura’s Selwyn Oaks

Commemorating 50 years of serving the local community

Selwyn Oaks in Papakura celebrated its Golden Jubilee on 19 December 2020. On this date 50 years ago, the village welcomed its first residents, with the opening representing a significant milestone in the development of The Selwyn Foundation and in the provision of dedicated residential care services for older people from the Papakura community.

The initial vision for the village was the inspiration of local businessman, Mr Ted Lees, who had been concerned that society was not doing enough for its older people. A returned serviceman who fully embraced the Kiwi ‘can do mentality’, Ted was eager to contribute his energies to the building of a modern post-war New Zealand. In 1962, he initiated discussions to explore the possibility of establishing a ‘senior citizens village’ in the area and established the Papakura Lions Club to help with the project, which was to be a partnership with The Selwyn Foundation. (It was on his first visit to the proposed site that Selwyn founder Canon Caswell looked around at the trees and said: ‘You must call this place Selwyn Oaks’!)

Many successful local fundraising campaigns and public appeals then followed, coordinated by the Papakura Lions and supported by the local community and surrounding parishes. During this time, the appeal headquarters were located at the Lees Group premises, with publicity banners announcing ‘Selwyn Oaks Appeal’ and a barometer recording progress. These tireless fundraising efforts were subsequently boosted by a Government subsidy in December 1968, which allowed construction to begin on the two and a half acre site in December 1969, with the first eleven residents moving in on 19 December 1970.

In 1988, more adjoining land was added that had previously been owned by Ted’s elder brother Rowley, which enabled the entrance to lead from Youngs Road, rather than off the busy Great South Road. Rowley had lived in the ‘Homestead’ building at the entrance, and this was also added later on, becoming an integral part of the facilities and the venue for the first of our community day centres.

Selwyn Oaks’ development and growth in the early years were due to the great foresight, commitment and generosity of the Lees family, supported by the Lions Club of Papakura whose members, as well as raising money, provided building materials and on-site labour free-of-charge.

In the half-century since, the village has figured prominently in the life of the surrounding community. It now provides quality care services and retirement living accommodation for 48 care residents and 20 independent living residents (16 villas were added to the grounds in the early 1990s), supported by our caring team of some 47 staff.

In February 2018, a multi-million dollar, three-storey care centre was opened. Offering a new model of hospital-level care across four ‘households’ – one that’s based totally around residents’ individual needs and which promotes residents’ independence – the centre is a busy hub of activity. Every manner of meaningful and enriching engagement in life programme is available for residents to choose from, led by our innovative and inspiring diversional therapist and activities assistants and supported by the talents of the village’s active volunteer base.

In recognition of Ted and Rowley Lees’ outstanding contribution to the establishment and early growth of Selwyn Oaks, the new care building was named ‘The Lees Centre’ in their honour, so that the Lees family name and the history of their achievement might continue to have meaning for Selwyn Oaks’ residents and staff for many years to come.

For further information on the development of Selwyn Oaks, read our commemorative booklet.

Current resident of Selwyn Oaks, centenarian Mrs Marjorie Foulkes – sister of Ted and Rowley Lees – is pictured reading about proposed plans for the village in a newspaper from 1967, with registered nurse Lorraine Standring looking on.


Selwyn Oaks' Lees Centre