Dig This Invercargill part of first 'dig' at Hawthorndale Care Village

20th October 2022

The Hawthorndale Care Village began with a rather BIG and special start to the construction process.


Transport World Director, Joc O’Donnell had kindly donated the 15-tonne CAT digger, used at their Dig This Experience based in Invercargill as an auction item along with bragging rights to be the first person to dig the ground for the new village.

The idea was suggested by one of the staff at Transport World as an auction item for the organisation’s recent fundraiser “A Night on The Couch”. The night saw big sporting personalities Noeline Taurua, Joe Schmidt and Raelene Castle entertain the packed-out Ascot Hotel audience with intimate stories from their extraordinary careers.

The night concluded with an auction and the FIRST DIG on Site was auctioned off and raised $600 by the winning bidder, Niagara Sawmilling Company Ltd.

The lucky 'first digger' was Jamie Barton from Niagara.

CEO of Niagara Ross Richardson has had a strong family connection with the Hawthorndale community since 1942 when the building and timber supply yard operated from Tay Street for approximately 60 years.  Ross has fond childhood memories of the area having lived and attended the School on the very site of the care village.  Richardson says: “I am proud for Niagara to support such a worthy cause. Dementia is an illness that touches many families – several of the staff at Niagara and our wider Group of Companies are no stranger to the challenges it brings. To have a facility of this quality in Invercargill is clearly a huge benefit to the whole community.

Niagara committed to supporting the project earlier in the year and the team are delighted to announce today that Niagara has made an incredible donation of $350,000 towards the Hawthorndale Care Village project.

Working Group member Paddy O Brien said, “The generosity of Niagara is extraordinary, and we are so thrilled their contribution will provide the necessary funds to allow us to move forward with greater confidence in these difficult times. We appreciate every dollar that we receive but when a business makes such a substantial contribution which will benefit the whole community, we feel incredibly privileged to have the support of a business such as Niagara."

The digger to be on site for the FIRST DIG is used at Dig This Invercargill for participants to test their skills with digger gymnastics, including a handstand, as well as the finer skills required for digger basketball drills.

The O’Donnell family are huge supporters of the village project and Joc O Donnell said, “We’re delighted the staff member came up with such a unique idea and thought it was a wonderful way to mark the exciting first step in the construction process."

The village, expected to open in early 2025, is an aged care facility inspired by the world-leading Dutch dementia village, De Hogeweyk. It will follow a social rather than a traditional institutional model of care, allowing residents to live as normal a life as possible, exercising choice over their daily lives.

The Hawthorndale project is expected to generate 300 jobs during its construction phase and once open create 11 new jobs and retain 87 jobs from the Calvary Hospital transition.

Words: The Hawthorndale Care Village