The Monastery has now closed

Since May 2011, more than 700 people directly affected by the Christchurch earthquakes benefitted from a free stay at The Monastery, a Waikato based wellness retreat.

The Wise Group is deeply grateful to staff who provided such an amazing service over four years, and to everyone else who has supported The Monastery, including local and national businesses and suppliers of the Wise Group.

Property for sale

This breath-taking 107 year old relocated villa on 4.5527ha is now for sale. It has undergone extensive renovation and redecoration and every care has been taken to remain true to the early style of the building.

For further information, visit


History of the property

An inspiring and magical place, The Monastery has more than a century of colourful history that has seen it swing back and forth between a family home and a retreat for wellness or reflection.

Originally built in 1906 for the Primrose family, the house was named 'Dalmeny' after a Scottish manor house of the same name. The house was built by Frederick Mulcock and was originally on a 27-acre property at what is now the corner of Peachgrove Road and Insoll Avenue in Hamilton. It is believed that the original fireplaces and archways in the villa came from the Old Government House and were gifted to the Primrose family by Sir George Grey.

From 1946 to 1952 the house was owned by Fred and Janet Mason. It became known as Peace Haven and was used as a wellness retreat after World War II.

In an interview in 1982, Millie Koretz, a Czechoslovakian woman who often visited Peace Haven came to know the Masons said it was a very spiritual Christian place, but of no particular religious denomination. "Mrs Mason was a very spiritual person. She would welcome anyone who needed help, counselling or just rest, peace and acceptance."

The Catholic Church bought the house from the Masons in 1952 and in 1956 Passionist Order priests from Australia came to Hamilton and turned the house into a tranquil place for retreats. It is at this point that the house became known as The Monastery. It is believed that some alterations took place at this time to construct a chapel and confessional in what was the drawing room.

Once the Passionists returned to Australia in 1988, the Catholic Church sold the building to an Auckland developer who, in 1990, sold it to Hamilton couple, Dr Ross Lawrenson and Beverley Sweetman. At this time the building was very run down and the sale rescued the house from demolition by a mere week. That same year the couple moved the house, in five parts, to its current site – a 10-acre section overlooking the Waikato River.

In 1993 Robert and Diana Scott bought villa and extensively developed the grounds. The Monastery was used as both a family home to the Scott's as well as a well-known and highly regarded country retreat.

The Wise Group – a group of charitable organisations providing a range of mental health and wellness choices – has owned the property since 2005. It was initially used as a discreet wellness retreat for people feeling tired, stressed or traumatised.

From May 2011 to April 2015, the Wise Group offered free stays to people directly affected by the devastating Christchurch earthquakes. In that time, more than 700 Cantabrians stayed at The Monastery. Senior clinical psychologist Terri Donovan said The Monastery was the "lifeline needed for many Cantabrians to keep going. It enabled them to increase their tolerance around uncertainty, to recover some energy and optimism."

Guests have said their stay at The Monastery was life changing.