Gaia (Earth) Forest Preschool New Zealand

A building in the shape of a single leaf, set in 10,000 m² of ancient native forest is home to the world’s first childcare centre fully immersed in nature. Inspired by the Gaia Earth Education Principle of Earth-inspired building design, environments, values, curriculum and outcomes for children – the Gaia (Earth) Forest Pre-school is a unique experience for children.

RDT Pacific provided Cost Management and bank funding Quantity Surveying (QS) services to support this extraordinary project through challenging times to enable its completion.

Somewhat unusually, the project was undertaken under the NZS 3915 form of contract. As such, RDT Pacific also provided additional support to the Principal as their advisor.

The development and construction of the Gaia (Earth) Preschool faced some unprecedented challenges during COVID-19 restrictions, that were further compounded when the impact of Australian forest fires greatly increased the cost of timber.

Cost changes in the midst of construction required added support from our team and a significant Value Engineering process was undertaken by the team to reduce the impact of the cost increases and ensure continuity.

Additional challenges that required extensive team collaboration included a major change to the roof construction following the discovery that the designed roof could not physically fit down the driveway due to turning circle restrictions.

In mid-2022, the giant leaf-shaped building that “bio-mimics” Earth’s natural ecosystems opened in Manurewa, South Auckland.

The vision for Gaia (Earth) Forest Preschool is based on founders Dr Darius and Nakeeta Singh’s belief in hope, and the opportunity to “provide children with more amazing experiences and opportunities than anyone has ever had growing up”.

We are privileged to have been a part of this incredible journey.


The RDT Pacific Cost Management team were engaged by N2D3 Properties Limited to provide Bank Funding Quantity Surveying services for the construction of Gaia (Earth) Preschool New Zealand, in Manurewa, Auckland, operated by Chrysalis Group Ltd. Laura and the RDT Pacific QS team came into the project at the Detailed Design stage to provide a level of cost certainty around the proposed design. They integrated seamlessly with the project team. During construction, we encountered some unprecedented cost challenges due to the constraints of COVID-19 and significant cost increases for timber after the forest fires in Australia. Laura and the team worked with the bank to minimise uncertainty and ensure the project outcomes were met so we were able to open our outstanding facility in mid-2022. Throughout the Gaia project, the RDT team were accessible, providing valuable advice and problem-solving with a professional approach and in a timely manner. Their ability to work through a challenging situation, applying commitment, knowledge and out-of-the box thinking is unparalleled and the project was ultimately completed within budget. We look forward to opportunities for N2D3 Properties Limited and RDT Pacific to work together again in the future.
Dr Darius Singh, FINZ, MInstD
Founder / Director


  • 2023 New Zealand Commercial Project Awards – Silver Award Winner
  • 2023 Property Council of New Zealand Property Industry Awards, Education Property Award - Excellence

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