Queenstown farmers have gifted their historic homestead property to the University of Otago for a high-end research retreat.
In what’s been described as “an extraordinary gesture”, Jillian and Dick Jardine signed over their lake’s-edge Woolshed Bay homestead at Remarkables Station, including beautiful gardens and a guest lodge, last month.
University vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne says the property’s “one of the most significant gifts we’ve ever received, and it’s probably one of the most significant gifts any university in New Zealand has received”.
Remarkably, she notes that neither Jillian nor Dick attended the university.
“One of the things they were really keen on was the opportunity for world-class researchers to come from all over the planet to spend some time here together to solve really big problems, in conjunction with our university’s researchers.”
“We don’t create space for people to have time, and this amazing property will allow lots of people the chance to do that.”
Hayne adds that this particular bequest allows the university to work with the benefactors “to realise their vision for this place”.
The Jardine family has farmed Remarkables Station since 1922, and Jillian and Dick Jardine have lived at Woolshed Bay since 1990.
In 2007, they built their homestead from the original woolshed which was first used by Queenstown founder William Rees in the 1860s.
The Jardines say the Wakatipu has been very rewarding for them.
“This gift is our way of repaying that, and ensuring this special place lives on in a rewarding and visionary way.”
They say they’ve admired the research the university undertakes – “especially medical, but every field of research”.
The couple, who nowadays lease their farm, have been benefactors before.
They allowed their lakefront boulder field to become a QEII open space covenant for the public, especially climbers, to enjoy.
The couple intend relocating elsewhere in the Wakatipu.
University chancellor John Ward calls the Jardines’ bequest “an extraordinary gesture”.
“We’re currently doing some strategic planning for optimum usage of the property.
“We may further develop it in time.”
He says it allows the university to expand its footprint in the Wakatipu – “it will seed other opportunities for us”.
Asked if they’ll have any regrets about leaving their homestead, Jillian replies: “We leave with pride.”