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Wanaka’s health centre celebrated turning 10 years old last week by giving away free slices of cake.

Centre manager Heather McClintock said anyone who came to the centre last Thursday was able to choose from a very large traditional chocolate cake or a gluten free, nut free or diabetic cake.

Marking the tenth year of operation was a good time to reflect on how much has changed, she said.

“When we first opened here everyone said it was too far out of town, there was nothing here and now we are surrounded by houses.”

“We also have a whole lot of specialists that come to this building and there are services available to the community so they don’t have to travel to Dunstan or Dunedin or Invercargill,” Ms McClintock said.

Aspiring Medical Centre’s Dr Simon Brebner was one of the founding shareholders of the centre.

He moved to Wanaka in 1995, was originally a ski field doctor at Treble Cone and three years later joined the Aspiring Medical Centre in Dungarvan St.

Dr Brebner said at that time all individual health businesses were working out of converted homes.

“For our one we ripped out the kitchen and turned it into the waiting room, you trundled down a narrow dark hallway to one of the kid’s bedrooms to see one of the doctors and our treatment room was the garage.”

He said they used to take their own X-rays and converted one of the toilets into the radiology department.

Dr Brebner said it eventually became like a house with too many people in it and it was increasingly inefficient.

In 2006, retired Wanaka GP Dennis Pezarro initiated discussions between Wanaka Medical and Aspiring Medical centres, as well as physios and dentists, around creating a purpose-built one-stop medical mall or complex.

On June 10, 2011, the first tenants moved into the Wanaka Lakes Health Centre on Cardrona Valley Rd.

Ms McClintock said the Wanaka Health Centre has since been used as a model or a template for the medical centre in Whitianga and other towns in New Zealand.