The original King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for Children opened in Wellington on 13 March 1912 following a hugely successful public fundraising campaign and has a proud history as New Zealand’s first ever purpose built children’s hospital. 

In that same tradition of community support and fundraising, 110 years later the new Te Wao Nui Child Health Service opened its doors doors on 30th September 2022, in the Mark Dunajtschik and Dorothy Spotswood Building to future generations of kiwi kids across the central region.

In 2017, following an initial approach by Bill Day Chair of Wellington Hospitals Foundation, Sir Mark Dunajtschik and Dorothy Spotswood announced their extraordinary gift of $50 million to build and donate a new world-class children’s hospital to our region.

Any of us who have had the experience of a sick child who needs hospital level treatment, knows how traumatic and challenging that is, and Mark and Dorothy’s extraordinary gift to the people of this region is the greatest of legacies.  Without them, a new hospital would have been many years away and sick children, their families and our hospital’s medical teams would have continued to struggle in a building that was broken and unfit for purpose.

The unique philanthropic model allowed our paediatric teams to be involved in every step of the design and build process.  Working alongside the architectural team at Studio Design and Architecture and builders McKee Fehl, they have created a hospital with children and their families at its heart.

On 7 July 2022 Sir Mark was recognised as a Wellington icon at the Wellington Gold Awards, where he also took the opportunity to announce that he and Dorothy have donated another up to $50 million for a new mental health centre in the Hutt Valley. 

This is the greatest of legacies the likes of which we have not seen before and is deeply appreciated.

Find out more about the Journey to a New Children’s Hospital HERE

Take a Closer Look HERE

Te Wao Nui Total Cost

The total cost of building works, including furniture, equipment and fittings, was $110 million. Financial contributions to the hospital include:

  • Mark Dunajtschik and Dorothy Spotswood – $50M
  • Wellington Hospitals Foundation – $10M to outfit and equip the interior.
  • Government – ($25M to the build, $21M initial site clearance)
  • The former Capital and Coast District Health Board – $4M

Te Wao Nui Name

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.  It is fitting that the protective spirit/mauri of the forest is reflected in the name and theming of the new hospital service.

Work by Weta Workshop brings Te Wao Nui to life, through murals and theming throughout the hospital that reflect 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’ and spiral staircase connects levels 2 and 3 of the building.

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 meet the new Kaitiaki HERE 

The Foundation is grateful to the thousands of donors who supported our campaign to raise $10 million to outfit and equip the interior of Te Wao Nui. But bricks and mortar are only part of the story and there is still much mahi to do to ensure that we have a high quality Child Health Service now and into the future. With over 87,000 child admissions and appointments every year, your gift will make an incredible difference. Your kindness and generosity ensures that tamariki and rangitahi  can access the best possible care in a modern, multimillion-dollar, fit for purpose paediatric facility.

Photo Credit: Andy Spain