Meet the kaitiaki whānau

The name Te Wao Nui ō Tane 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 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.

Kaitiaki – Gaurdians of the new hospital

Drawing on features of New Zealand’s flora and fauna, a whānau of nine kaitiaki characters help children and young people feel supported and cared for during their hospital journey.


Tiaki (pronounced: Tee-ah-kee) is the face of Te Wao Nui. Tiaki means to guard, care, protect, nurse and conserve, so it’s fitting that this special little guardian also features on the new Te Wao Nui Child Health Service logo. Based on New Zealand’s pōhutukawa flower, look out for Tiaki’s bright red feelers and big warm welcoming eyes when you arrive at Te Wao Nui on the forest floor (Level 2).


Pronounced: Core-figh, Kōwhai is a guiding light for those on level 3. They hang out in the sub-canopy or the middle of the forest. Look out for their bright yellow coat. 


Pronounced: Pea-core. Piko sits high in the tree of life up in the canopy layer. Look out for them on level 4 with their bendy blue sprout. Piko loves to look out over the forest to see what’s happening. 


Pronounced: Heli. Heli is the most playful kaitiaki at Te Wao Nui. They keep everyone positive as they are getting better. You can spot Heli by their natural propeller hat that spins when they’re excited. Heli loves to drop by for visit, spin a story or share fun facts.


Pronounced: Car-ha. Kaha is small but you can spot them by their big heart-shaped tail. Kaha’s feelers on top of their head can sense if you’re scared. So if you are feeling nervous, Kaha will always be there for you. Kaha is always up for trying new things and makes you feel brave and strong.


Pronounced: Awe-rah. Ora tends and heals Te Wao Nui. You can spot Ora by their protective mask and cape. They float around making sure everything is clean and safe by teaching you about hygiene. They make sure every​one is safe, comfortable and at ease.

Tahi & Rua

Pronounced: Tah-hee & Roo-ah. Tahi and Rua are the oldest & wisest of the kaitiaki whānau. They are never apart because they are the best of mates. Tahi is the Tuatara and Rua is their number two. They believe in the power of teamwork and they’ll always have your back.


Pronounced: Fern-nee. Fernie looks after everyone’s wellbeing by learning how to be respectful, caring and kind.  You can spot Fernie by their magnificent fern frond, with many leaves. The more they learn, the taller their stalk grows.