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Hawke’s Bay Favourite Sir James Wattie Honoured

Ryman Healthcare has named its new Havelock North retirement village in honour of visionary Hawke’s Bay entrepreneur Sir James Wattie.

Ryman Healthcare, New Zealand’s largest retirement village operator, names all its villages after significant people suggested by locals.

Sir James (1902-1974) was a popular suggestion for the Te Aute Rd village, and Ryman Healthcare and Ryman has set up an annual academic scholarship in his honour at the Eastern Institute of Technology.

The $15,000 scholarship will go to EIT’s top second year business student.

Sir James became a household name in New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s as a highly successful and benevolent businessman who created the Wattie’s foodstuffs empire in Hastings.

His Wattie’s business made the best of Hawke’s Bay produce and created thousands of jobs, contributing to the economic prosperity of Hastings, the wider bay and New Zealand.

Caren Wattie, Sir James’s granddaughter, said it was great to see him honoured.

“We’re really proud of our grandfather’s legacy and thank Ryman, EIT and the Hawkes Bay community for honouring him in this way. We hope the scholarship will inspire those business students to go forward as entrepreneurs and help grow Hawkes Bay.’’

Ryman Healthcare Corporate Affairs Manager David King said it was an honour to name the village after such a significant Kiwi.

“Sir James started out as a messenger boy at the Post Office and went on to become one of New Zealand’s greatest business success stories. His story is all about hard work, great vision and tenacity.

“He had huge success with Wattie’s, but he never lost sight of the fact he couldn’t have done it without the backing of his suppliers and his team. He gave a huge amount back to the community and it is our pleasure to remember him in this way.

“The suggestion came from our residents and the community – and we are sure that the James Wattie Retirement Village will soon become a Havelock North landmark.’’

Dr Sabine Hoffman, head of EIT’s Schools of Business & Computing, welcomed the new scholarship.

“We are immensely grateful to Ryman Healthcare for this generous scholarship. It will make a substantial impact on the lucky recipient of this grant.

“We also recognise the contribution that Wattie’s has made to the Hawke’s Bay economy over a long period of time.’’

Construction of the new James Wattie Retirement Village began in 2019 and its first residents are due to move in later this year.

The village will offer a full range of retirement living options with care tailored to each resident’s needs.

The village will include town houses, serviced apartments as well as a care centre with resthome, hospital and dementia-level care options.

Residents will also be able to enjoy an indoor swimming pool, spa, gymnasium, hairdressing and beauty salons, café, movie theatre, library, a bar and billiards room.

About Ryman: Ryman Healthcare was founded in Christchurch in 1984 and owns and operates 36 retirement villages in New Zealand and Victoria. Ryman villages are home to 11,600 residents, and the company employs 6,000 staff.

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