Vanessa Lowndes Turanga Trust – History
1969 – Vanessa Lowndes “Abilities” formed – Based out of a house on the boys High School Grounds
1970 – relocated to Childers Road Premises
1981 – Relocated to Derby St Premises
30 June 1997 – Ceased to operate as “Abilities”
1 July 1997 – Vanessa Lowndes Turanga Trust formed
Vanessa Lowndes Abilities History
Vanessa Lowndes Abilities arose out of the efforts of Gisborne & Gisborne West Rotary clubs to set up a disabled persons help society.
A survey had shown a need but the money was a problem. Mr Colin Lowndes became interested in the project after a chance meeting in Auckland with his cousin Mr Murray Upton. Mr Lowndes had come with his family from London and Mr Upton, up from Gisborne, happened to be staying in the same hotel.
Mr Lowndes a former Gisborne High School head prefect, had made his fortune in the superannuation and life assurance business with his brother Noble. When he asked Mr Upton about the possible real estate investments in New Zealand, Mr Upton mentioned the need for a disabled persons help centre in Gisborne.
Mr Lowndes was enthusiastic about the idea and asked if it could be set up in the name of his daughter, Vanessa, who was almost blind. A trial workshop was set up in 1969 in a house on the Gisborne Boys High School grounds between the Gymnasium and Roebuck Road.
A year later the base moved to a Childers Road building bought by the Lowndes family Trust. When the operation outgrew this home, the Lowndes Family – with help from government subsidies, local trusts and public donations – set it up in the Derby St Premises. Fire badly damaged the workshop but it was rebuilt and re-equipped, and Lowndes money bought neighboring property for expansion.
Formation of Vanessa Lowndes Turanga Trust
Vanessa Lowndes Turanga Trust was set up in 1997 and is a partnership between Turanga Health & Vanessa Lowndes Abilities board of directors.
Turanga Health became involved after Vanessa Lowndes board member Esme Tombleson approached Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa. Mrs. Tombleson believed the Runanga had expertise to do the type of work and it was already in the health field. The Runanga referred Mrs. Tombleson to its Health Company. A committee of Turanga Health and Vanessa Lowndes board members brought in structural changes, with the help of Community Employment Group funding. Turanga Health director Richard Brooking chaired that transition committee.
Although Colin Lowndes (the original Benefactor) has past on his influence has lived on through a family trust which has given the premises funding and rent free accommodation. The trust retains a strong interest in the running of the Centre.