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Legendary farming education centre for sale

Media Release
Date 20.4.2012
Legendary farming education centre on the market for sale

A pioneering rural education institution that taught thousands of young New Zealanders the rudimentary skills of farming has been placed on the marked for sale.

Flock House near Bulls in the Manawatu was founded in1924 and was initially used to accommodate and train the sons of British Naval personnel who died during World War One.

In 1947 the school was opened to young New Zealand boy aged between 14 - 18 years of age wishing to gain an education in farming. The introduction of a ‘full fee’ structure in the 1980s led to a dramatic fall in student numbers, and in 1988 the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries which administered Flock House, closed the centre.

Over the decades, some 3400 young New Zealand farmers were educated at the facility. Since closing as an educational site, the Flock House buildings have been used as a conference and function venue before transferring into private ownership in 1995.
The original Flock House homestead and teaching facility, known as McKelvie House – which has a Category 1 listing with the Historic Places Trust – was continually expanded over the decades until its peak in the 1970s.
The complex sprawls over almost 14 hectares. Up for sale in the complex are:
* The original McKelvie Homestead and associated buildings.
* A full-sized gymnasium, three indoor squash courts with viewing area, two tennis courts, and a 25metre indoor heated swimming pool.
* A restaurant, bar, and recreation centre serviced by a commercial kitchen.
* Block accommodation for more than 300 people.
* Basketball, volleyball and badminton courts.
* It’s own water and sewage system.
The property is being marketed by Bayleys Lower North Island through a tender process closing on May 23. Bayleys commercial and industrial salesperson Lewis Townshend said that for generations of farmers, Flock House was the foundation of their farming careers.
“For rural-based education in New Zealand, Flock House was the forerunner of such universities as Lincoln and Massey. Many of its students went on to gain degrees at these institutions, or went directly onto farms as sharemilkers or farm hands before going on to buy and own their own properties,” Mr Townshend said.
Mr Townshend said that over the past decade of private ownership, the venue had been identified for a variety of uses – ranging from a boutique hotel and function venue, through to an alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre.
“The building infrastructure and substantial number of commercial grade amenities are all in place and ready for a new owner to refurbish and reinvigorate this ‘gracious old lady’ to her former glory,” Mr Townshend said.

“The potential uses are virtually limitless. The land and buildings could even be purchased for conversion to a private stately residence with the ultimate ‘stable’ of recreational amenities.

“Or the property could be subdivided – with each subsequent dwelling having shared access rights to the likes of the pool and the sports facilities in what could effectively become a ‘gated’ style community.

“From an historic perspective though, I think there are a lot of farmers around New Zealand who would love to see Flock House returned as a training institution. However, with the potential of housing a large number of people continuously for a lengthy period of time, the options are there for developing the property as a residentially-focused facility.”
Mr Townshend said the sale only included the buildings and infrastructure around Flock House, and did not incorporate the substantial productive rural land previously associated with the centre and now being farmed separately. The Flock House buildings and 13.75hectares of land had a capital valuation of $1.475million.


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