Funds needed for hospital healing garden

Before: Architect’s drawings of the atrium before and after the installation of the Healing Garden.

A hospital can provide different kinds of healing, and be more than wards and operating theatres.

This is the idea behind the creation of a green space that will be at the core of the state-of-the- art hospital facility that is under construction at North Shore Hospital.

And public donations are being sought to make it happen.


The Well Foundation, the official charity for North Shore and Waitākere hospitals and community health services across Rodney, the North Shore and West Auckland, launched a campaign this week to raise funds to create the Healing Garden in North Shore’s new hospital, Tōtara Haumaru (under the shade of the tōtara tree). 

The complex, set to open next April, will serve the wider Auckland region with eight state-of-the-art operating theatres, four new endoscopy suites and 150 in-patient beds across five medical and surgical wards. 

More than 500 plants will transform the 400sqm central atrium of the four-storey building into the first large scale Healing Garden in the country.

It will consist of large organic shaped planters, up to 40m long, filled with plants that thrive indoors. There will be over 20 different species, some reaching 2m tall, and seating. 

The lower-level wards will look out onto the garden, with the layout and foliage providing privacy. Patients staying on upper levels will have a great view of the suspended sculptural lighting, while looking down onto the garden. It will also feature a staff-only-space. 

Stanmore Bay resident Laura Elliott, who spent time in North Shore Hospital with appendicitis, is an advocate for the Healing Garden and the role it can play in making hospital stays less stressful for patients and their families. 

During her week-long hospitalisation, Laura experienced first-hand the challenges faced by patients and their families in the clinical confines of a hospital room, shared with other patients with the coming and going of doctors and nurses. 

“Visits from my family, in particular my one year old daughter, were a huge comfort to me, but unfortunately my daughter’s first visit with me in my ward room was distressing,” Laura says. “The medical equipment, machines, other patients and general hospital environment was scary for her. We decided for the second visit to meet downstairs in the hospital waiting room, but this was a busy space filled with chairs and not much else. She became so anxious after two visits we decided it was best that she didn’t visit again for the rest of my stay which was extremely tough for both of us. Imagine if I could have met my daughter and husband in the tranquillity of the Healing Garden away from other patients, beeping machines and the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital ward! It would have been a completely different experience.” 

Well Foundation chief executive, Tim Edmonds, says the fundraising project, called Give a Bit of Green, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the community to help shape the hospital environment. 

“We know that being in a hospital can be a stressful experience, and hospitals are typically sterile, clinical environments, with limited access to nature,” Tim says. “Yet international research shows that green spaces in hospitals not only encourage relaxation and reduce stress for patients, visitors and healthcare workers, but can also help speed up recovery and improve clinical outcomes.”

He says the garden will only be possible through the support of the community.

The Foundation hopes to raise the remaining $1 million of the $2 million needed to fund the Healing Garden, with every dollar raised going directly to the project. 

“By donating you will enhance the wellbeing of everyone who steps foot in our new hospital and leave a lasting legacy that will positively change the hospital experience for generations to come.” 

The Give a Bit of Green fundraising campaign begins this week (October 30). To support it,  visit