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Komatua Care to close after 38 years

Flagstaff Team

End of an era… the Wichman family was central to Komatua Care operations for almost four decades: Bess Wichman centre with daughters (from left to right) Rangi Cairns, Katherine and Nina Wichman

The Komatua Care dementia home will close after 38 years – but the work and legacy of founder Victoria Brown will carry on.

Brown died in June, and her family, including sister Bess Wichman and her five nieces Nina, Katherine, Rangi, Barbara and Sarah, who spent decades working at the centre, have reluctantly decided to close on 4 December.

“We took months to decide: should we keep it open – should  we close,” says Nina Wichman.

“We’ve been committed to looking after the residents for decades and helping out families and the community.

“It’s time to look after own families now,” she said.

The secure-care facility on Calliope Rd houses 12 residents, who are gradually moving to other homes.

The house goes on the market in early January. The sale proceeds will be put in trust to continue Brown’s work with the homeless and disadvantaged – something the Wichman family will continue to be part of.

Brown was the founder of Helping Hands of Devonport, which took hot meals to 70-100 homeless people every Sunday night outside Auckland Central City Library.

“The first 100 people fed on the street are now housed and have jobs.” Nina says.

The closure will be a wrench for the Wichman family. They recall the years working at Komatua Care, keeping residents supplied with meals and morning teas, sitting with clients at night to keep them company, comforting and supporting family members.

“We used to get sent out to pick flowers for the vases,” remembers Katherine.

Although Komatua Care is closing, 
the Wichmans will all still be living in Devonport.

“What better place to be,” says Bess.

This article originally appeared in the November 29 edition of the Devonport Flagstaff. Download PDF.