Whangarei Hospital Maternity Unit
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Northland District Health Board
The $9.8 million Whangarei Hospital Maternity Unit was officially opened in late February 2016, with the first babies to be born in the unit a pair of twins. It replaces a 40-year-old facility, and enhances the quality of care for Northland’s mothers and babies.
Called Te Kotuku (the heron, or stork), the Whangarei Hospital Maternity Unit forms the first stage of a progressive redevelopment by Northland District Health Board (NDHB) on the western side of the existing facility. It is in an ideal location for future access to theatres in accordance with the Site Master Plan.
RDT Pacific ran an intensive user group process to ensure the design was fit-for-purpose, and as easy and cost-effective to maintain as possible. A ‘long life loose fit’ philosophy influenced the design’s versatile rectangular shape, to ensure its future capacity can meet local population growth. Its structure allows for expansion by two more floors, and a northern extension. The roof is lightweight to enable either removal or raising when ward floors above are developed.
Te Kotuku will house all maternity services under this one roof, including birthing rooms with ensuite facilities, inpatient beds with ensuites and four antenatal clinic rooms. Included in the facility is a dedicated ‘Butterfly’ room for families who lose their child from still birth or neonatal loss. The facility also includes a high dependency unit and a central staff base. A new Maternity Assessment Unit will reduce the number of short stay patients.
NDHB CEO Dr Nick Chamberlain explained the name Te Kotuku, which translates to white heron, was chosen as a symbol of prestige, purity and uniqueness.”One of the greatest compliments in the Maori world (Te Ao Maori) is to liken someone to the kotuku for it signifies everything rare and beautiful.”
The work of local artists can be found throughout the building. These include carvers Taane Matiu and Standford Wihongi, ceramic artists Pat and Steve George and Briar van Ameringen whose artwork graces the Butterfly room.