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History - Dr Ron Kennedy's legacy

2Breakfast pool in autumn-606
                                                                        Autumn colours looking south over the Major Jones pool                                                                           
For many years Waimarama Lodge was the home and surgery of one of the first doctors in the local community, Dr Ron Kennedy, OBE*. A World War Two veteran of the Royal Navy (commissioned a Surgeon Lieutenant in 1938) he permanently moved to Waimarama in 1964 and was the sometime District Officer of Health as well as the local GP. The Doctor’s passion for books was the genesis of the substantial library that is still available for the enjoyment of Lodge guests. The tall aerial standing at the rear of the house allowed him to use short wave radio to stay in touch with his district when many rural places did not have telephones.  

Though he passed away at the age of 79 in 1984, Dr Kennedy was remembered with affection by many people in the district. His home was a focal point of social life on the river in the 1960's and 70's and the present owners have even met people who, as children, accompanied their parents to garden parties in the grounds of Waimarama. The Lodge is still sometimes called, by the few remaining locals of that time, “Ron Kennedy’s place”. 

Dr Kennedy's first wife died when he was only 33. He married again (his second wife Marjorie was famously nicknamed "Carrots" for her red hair), but tragedy struck once more when his younger son was drowned at the age of 18, while sailing on Lake Taupo in 1965. 
The Lodge house was one of the first substantial homes built on the banks of the Tongariro in the early 1930’s. At that time it was just a one bedroom cottage. However, Doctor Kennedy is thought by many to have picked the best spot on the river for his home when he acquired it, and in 1966 he made substantial extensions to the house, with further bedrooms and the library that also doubled as his surgery.

The Lodge is sheltered beneath mature trees, many of which were planted by Dr Kennedy. The house is a landmark on the Tongariro riverbank, not least because of the towering Copper Beech tree that marks the entrance to the property and is one of Dr Kennedy’s notable legacies. 

* Ronald Lincoln Kennedy, 1905-1984, OBE, MRCS (Eng), LRCP (London) 1933

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