In October 2022, philanthropist Mark Dunajtschik announced he 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 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 June 2023 respectively. Unfortunately as with many older public buildings in Aotearoa, we have found undisturbed asbestos in both buildings. We are continuing to take all steps possible to reduce any risk of people being exposed.

Ward Demolition, a licensed asbestos removal contractor (licence number RA17010014 & RB19030191) have finished removing and disposing of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) safely from Kowhai House. They are now in the process of removing the building.

The main contractor, McKee Fehl Constructors have sub-contracted the Grun Group, a licensed asbestos removal contractor (A Class – RA21080035/25 August 2026 & B Class – RB21080034/25 August 2026) to remove and dispose of all ACM from Pilmuir House. They will follow the strict controls required under the health and safety standards and regulations overseen by Worksafe and Hutt City Council. This includes:

  • wrapping and sealing Pilmuir House in plastic to encapsulate the building during the asbestos removal process;
  • installing an airlock to keep the air inside the space
  • using air monitoring to check the health and safety measures are working. The results of the air monitoring will be made available on request. The asbestos validation testing will be carried out by the licensed asbestos assessor, Precise Consulting Ltd.
  • the independent licensed asbestos assessor will provide certification that all asbestos has been removed from the site once the works are completed.   

    Their staff will wear disposable coveralls, gloves, and masks during the removal work, as they take all practical steps to protect their teams from any long-term, low-dose exposure, as they are in regular contact with this material due to the nature of their work. An exclusion zone will be set up around the building to reduce any further risk to neighbours, members of the public and hospital staff.


    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 – July  2023Kowhai House asbestos removal complete. Demolition underway. 
    June 2023 – April 2024Pilmuir House asbestos removal and demolition. "The Y” (YMCA) will remain safely on site. 
    June 2023 – February 2024Design and consenting process - led by CCM Architects
    March 2024 –  May 2024Preparing the grounds before construction
    Mid 2024 – November 2026Estimated build and internal fit out
    Late 2026 – early 2027Mark Dunajtschik Mental Health Centre becomes operational

    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 5 September 2023.