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A New Regional Children’s Hospital – The story so far

Incredible stories of skill, courage and compassion unfold at Wellington Regional Children’s Hospital every day.

The original King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for Children opened in 1912 following a hugely successful public fundraising campaign, and had a proud history as New Zealand’s first ever purpose built children’s hospital.

In that same tradition of community support, 110 years later the stunning new Te Wao Nui Child Health Service and Hospital will open its doors in the Mark Dunajtschik and Dorothy Spotswood Building to future generations of kiwi kids across the central region.

Getting well takes more than medicine and it is a privilege for the Wellington Hospitals Foundation to represent the donors we serve.  From philanthropists Mark Dunajtschik and Dorothy Spotswood, to the children gifting their pocket money, along with the thousands of individual donors, schools, small businesses, charitable trusts and corporate charity partners.

The mauri/spirit of our new children’s hospital will reflect the extraordinary generosity, aroha and goodwill of our caring community.

Mark Dunajtschik and Dorothy Spotswood

Three years ago, following an initial approach by Bill Day Chair of the Foundation, local benefactors Mark Dunajtschik and Dorothy Spotswood announced an extraordinary gift of $50 million to build and donate a new world-class children’s hospital to our region.  This unprecedented generosity is deeply appreciated and will ensure a brighter and healthier future for thousands of kiwi kids.

On 4 March 2021 it was announced that that the new Child Health Service and Hospital will be known as  Te Wao Nui – ‘The Great Forest of Tāne’, and the new hospital building will be known as the Mark Dunajtschik and Dorothy Spotswood Building in honour of their tremendous gift.

Without Mark and Dorothy’s support, a new children’s hospital would have been many decades away, and sick children, their families and the hospital’s medical teams would have continued to struggle in a building that was unfit for purpose.

This project is unique in New Zealand.  Mark and Dorothy have donated $50 million to build (through McKee Fehl Constructors) and then donate the new hospital to the Capital and Coast District Health Board.   But it is also unique because from day one, our hospital’s clinical teams have been engaged to work with the architects and builders.  This extraordinary opportunity gave them carte blanche to design medical, clinical, administrative, monitoring and whānau spaces in the new hospital that will explicitly meet their needs, as well as those of children and their families.

After fifteen months of planning, work on Wellington region’s New Children’s Hospital began in November 2018.  Mauri stones were laid to mark the beginning of the build.

How much will it cost in total?

The total cost of the building works, including furniture, equipment and fittings, will be approximately $105 million. Financial contributions to the hospital include:

– Mark Dunajtschik and Dorothy Spotswood’s $50 million

– The Government’s contribution of $45.6 million to prepare the site

– The Wellington Hospital Foundation’s fundraising and community commitment of $10 million to outfit and equip the interior.

A huge thanks to every one of you as we work towards raising the $10 million needed to outfit and equip the interior of Te Wao Nui.  Please join us and DONATE TODAY . Your kind gift will be put towards all furniture and fittings, as well as state of the art medical and therapeutic equipment, along with all the creative and technical elements of the new hospital.

Te Wao Nui – a new integrated Child Health Service

For the very first time a range of paediatric services will now be brought together, which has allowed the CCDHB to revamp and launch a new integrated Child Health Service and Hospital for the central region.  As well as inpatient medical, surgical and day patients, for the first time all current children’s clinics and specialty services (including Ophthalmology, ENT, Craniofacial and Orthopaedics), Allied Health and Child Development Service operating clinics will be brought together under one roof.  This will allow for much easier collaboration across different paediatric specialities for those children with complex or multidisciplinary needs.

The name Te Wao Nui was chosen after careful consultation with key stakeholders and acknowledges the cultural significance and life-giving properties that Māori associate with the forest.  Māori revere the forest for its beauty, spiritual presence, and bounty of food, medicines and building materials; and it is fitting that the protective spirit/mauri of the forest is reflected in the name and theming of our new hospital service.

Work by Weta Workshop will bring Te Wao Nui to life, through murals and theming throughout the hospital that reflects the different layers of the forest ecosystem – canopy, forest floor, and treeline – in a way that is both playful and fun for kids and families.   An iconic ‘Tree of Life’ will also feature and connect levels 2 and 3 of the building.

The new name will take effect when the service transitions into the new children’s hospital building in autumn 2022.

View a short introduction to Te Wao Nui’s name, its story, and some of Weta’s magical interior concepts for the new hospital.

Kaitiaki – Gaurdians of the new hospital

Drawing on features of New Zealand’s flora and fauna, a whānau of nine kaitiaki characters have also been developed to help children and young people feel supported and cared for during their hospital journey.   You can also be introduced to the new whānau of kaitiaki HERE

Who does CCDHB’s Child Health Service cater for?

CCDHB’s Child Health Service is an important part of New Zealand’s specialist children’s hospital network. They support babies to adolescents (16 years and under) with medical conditions and requiring paediatric surgery.

Specialist paediatric surgery is only performed at five hospitals in the country – one of which is Wellington. The Hospital provides paediatric surgical services for children from the Capital and Coast region, as well as children from Hutt Valley, Wairarapa, Manawatu, Whanganui, Hawkes Bay, Nelson and Marlborough.

Around 7,500 children per year are admitted to the hospital wards at Wellington Regional Children’s Hospital. Around 80 percent of the children live in the CCDHB area; the other 20 percent are children from the lower North Island and upper South Island.

There are more than 87,000 young patient visits to Wellington Regional Children’s Hospital each year.

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