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Villa renovation completes the circle for pioneering healthcare centre.

Tags: Residential

An early 20th century villa converted from a residential dwelling into New Zealand’s first specialist breast healthcare clinic - and recently converted back again into an ultra-modern home – has been placed on the market for sale.


The seven-bedroom/two-bathroom villa began life as a substantial-sized home in the chic Auckland suburb of Newmarket - where many of the city’s ‘upper-middle-class’ citizens including accountants, lawyers and factory managers settled during the early part of the 1900s.

Pioneering New Zealand breast-care surgeon John Harman bought the home in 1989 - converting it from a residential dwelling to become the base for this country’s first multi-disciplinary specialist breast-care clinic, St Marks.

Kiwi nurse Shelley Grieve returned from her big ‘OE’ in 1995 after several years working in London’s Harley Street breast-care clinic. She landed a job with John Harmen at his Newmarket St Marks clinic.

When Dr John announced he was retiring from the breast-care sector and developing the bigger St Marks site into a sprawling world-class mid-rise apartment complex, Shelley and her husband Rod were offered to buy the redundant old villa which had served as a clinic for thousands of women patients.

The Grieves’ offer was accepted, and a meticulous relocation plan was drawn up – eventually seeing the 355 square metre villa sliced into five transportable portions which were duly jacked up onto the back of huge flat-deck trucks and hauled some 43 kilometres in the middle of the night to a new home in the Hunua district South of Auckland.

“You could say it was fate that brought me to St Marks in more ways than one,” recalls Shelley. “Not only did I get a job at St Marks, but I also ended up buying St Marks to live in. I suppose you could call it the ultimate ‘work from home’ – or in my case ‘work became home’.”

Shelley and Rod then spent the ensuing two years bringing the 100-year-old spacious high-stud property back to its former glory…. adding a liberal dose of interior décor sense and style, and converting what were various multiple patient rooms and nurses’ stations into an office, library, media room, sun room, and of course the huge array of bedrooms.

“She has ‘great bones’…. even if some of those bones were dissected to enable the big move out to the countryside. It’s that old cliché though: ‘they don’t make ‘em like this anymore,” admits Shelley.

“One of the reasons Rod and I came back to New Zealand from the UK was that we both love the colonial Kiwi style of home with all its kauri floorboards and paneling – something which we lovingly restored in the St Marks villa… along with the opportunity to provide an enviable lifestyle for our family.”

However, a dual change in career opportunities has seen the couple relocate down to Palmerston North – placing their 21-room Hunua labour of love up for sale.

The property at 121 Heald Road in Hunua is being sold through a tender process being run by Bayleys Real Estate, with tenders closing on September 13. The reconverted villa is surrounded by some 8,240 square metres of lush grassed fields broken down into smaller fenced paddocks used for gazing pet lambs and chickens.

Bayleys Counties salesperson Denise Jenner said that while the physical relocation of the St Marks villa was complete, the property was a ‘blank canvas’ for landscaping, tree planting, or for the installation of outdoor living areas, swimming pool and tennis court.

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