“What’s the history behind the boarded up old house on Mill Road” Otaki Mail was asked recently.
This rather derelict building stands on land gifted to Otaki by the Maori people for the cottage hospital and for over 30 years was the home and base for the ambulance officers. In later years the hospital designation was changed to a maternity hospital only. After that closed in 1991, the ambulance service was taken over by St John Ambulance and the hospital became a birthing unit until the whole land package was taken over under the Treaty of Waitangi and is currently land banked awaiting settlement agreements.
“The ambulance officers lived in the house until the maternity hospital closed, we moved out in 1993,” former ambulance officer Leo Ruston said. “When St John took over the ambulance the base was moved to Dunstan Street.
Up until a couple of years ago, this lovely old lady was hidden behind a very high hedge, much to the delight of some of our local youth! It became a “hangout” place to practise their graffiti skills and other unmentionable activities and so the decision was made to board up the access and remove the hedge, so exposing it to the Mill Road traffic and reducing the damage.
From the front it’s not too bad, but a wander down the drive shows further damage to what was a backyard and attached washhouse and blackberry growing over two metres high around most of the rear “garden” area.
We trust this answers your question, Valerie Brown.