In October 2022, philanthropists Mark Dunajtschik and his partner Dorothy Spotswood announced they would make a second generous donation to help fund a new mental health unit in the Hutt Valley. The new Mark Dunajtschik Mental Health Centre will replace the existing 24-bed unit at Hutt Hospital called Te Whare Ahuru, with a modern, safe space which will provide an additional 10 beds.

Mark and Dorothy also contributed $53 million towards Wellington's new children's hospital, Te Wao Nui. Te Wao Nui opened in the Mark Dunajtschik and Dorothy Spotswood Building, next to Wellington Regional Hospital on 30 September 2022. Learn more about Te Wao Nui

Designing the Centre 

The new Centre will be low rise so likely to be one or two levels high. It will be a welcoming, modern building designed to provide safe, therapeutic spaces for patients and whānau. The design is a collaboration between our clinical experts and teams, mana whenua, patient and consumer groups, and CCM Architects

Building the Centre

Reducing disruptions to our staff, patients, visitors and neighbours is our highest priority.

To house the larger mental health service, we need to remove both Kowhai and Pilmuir Houses starting in January and May 2023 respectively. Unfortunately as with many older public buildings in Aotearoa, we have found undisturbed asbestos in both buildings.

We are taking all steps possible to reduce any risk of people being exposed. Also under the Worksafe ‘approved code of practice for the management of and removal of asbestos 2016’ we are required to inform affected parties and neighbours of the work being carried out. We have hired Ward Demolition, a licensed asbestos removal contractor (licence number RA17010014 & RB19030191) whose team will safely remove and dispose of all asbestos safely before any works begin. They will follow strict controls required under the health and safety standards and regulations and overseen by Worksafe and Hutt City Council. These will include:

  • wrapping and sealing the buildings in plastic starting at Kowhai House (65 Pilmuir St) on 16 January 2023, which will take two to three weeks
  • installing an airlock to keep the air inside the space
  • using air monitoring to check the steps we are taking are working. The results of the air monitoring can be made available on request.
  • the licensed independent assessor will also certify that all asbestos has been cleared when the works are completed.  

We have been assured by Ward Demolition that you will not be placed at any risk by the removal works. Their staff will be wearing disposable coveralls, gloves, and masks during the removal work. This is how they will meet the legal requirement to take all practical steps to protect their staff who are in regular contact with the material during removals, which has the potential for long term low dose exposure. Don’t be alarmed by their appearance, if you are outside the exclusion zone they have set up, you will not be at risk



Below are the high-level time frames for removing the vacant Kowhai and Pilmuir Houses, and the design and development of the new mental health centre. 

WhenWhat will happen on site
October/November 2022
Fencing installed around Kowhai and Pilmuir Houses
January – May 2023Kowhai and Pilmuir Houses wrapped in two stages, in preparation for removal.
Consenting process demolition and asbestos removal
January – May 2023Kowhai House asbestos removal and demolition
May – December 2023Pilmuir House asbestos removal and demolition. "The Y” (YMCA) will remain safely on site. 
June - August 2023Design and consenting process - led by CCM Architects
December 2023 – March 2024Preparing the grounds before construction
March 2024 – September 2026Estimated build and internal fit out of new unit
Late 2026 approximatelyConstruction complete

For more information

We will be sharing regular updates on this web page and through our social media channels as the design and build the new Centre progresses.  

You can email to:

  • receive email links to the latest news when we update this webpage
  • ask a questions or request more information. One of the project team will get contact you during business hours.

Last updated 16 January 2023.