Published Thursday 3 Nov 2022

A new partnership between Te Whatu Ora Capital, Coast & Hutt Valley and the Wright Family Foundation will ensure that unwell pēpi and parents from the Hutt Valley are able to receive specialised whānau-led care and support closer to home.

Te Whatu Ora has taken over part of the Foundation’s lease of the former Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre, which will be repurposed as the District’s first standalone community-based transitional care unit.

“From mid-2023, this unit will enable unwell pēpi and whānau to be supported while transitioning from neonatal intensive or specialist care to primary care. In particular, this will mean Hutt Valley pēpi and parents will not need to stay as long – if at all – far from home in Newtown.

“We recognise the Wright Family Foundation’s role in in the continued provision of services, and we value the relationship between our organisations,” said Te Whatu Ora Capital, Coast & Hutt Valley interim district director John Tait.

The Hutt Specialist Care Baby Unit (SCBU), the Wellington Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and postnatal wards across the District are experiencing increasing demand and often operate at high occupancy. They support a number of pēpi who do not need intensive care, but are not well enough to be discharged.

This puts pressure on NICU and SCBU’s ability to accept further admissions, and separates pēpi from parents – creating barriers to establishing breast feeding, interfering with attachment and mental health, and likely prolonging hospital admission. A transition unit model of care will reduce that, improve outcomes for pēpi, and ease pressure on services across the District.

“The Wright Family Foundation is thrilled to continue our breastfeeding support, connection of peer groups, and providing extensive wrap around services to whanau,” said Wright Family Foundation founder and CEO Chloe Wright.

“As a social enterprise, we believe that the best outcomes for families can be achieved through the structure of Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand and the nimble application of services that social enterprise can bring.”

The decision builds on the District’s Maternity and Neonatal System Plan that – developed in partnership with staff and the community – sets out a whole-of-system approach to improving maternal and neonatal care for all families in the District. It also represents an opportunity to deliver on part of the plan’s commitment to increase access to primary birthing care, with two rooms being used to provide primary birthing where service demand and LMC staffing levels allow.

“Significant work has gone into getting us to this point. We are confident that utilising the unit in this way will deliver the greatest benefit for the greatest number of pēpi, parents, and whānau in our communities,” John Tait said

“Te Whatu Ora Capital, Coast & Hutt Valley remain committed to the continued delivery of services in the Hutt Valley and to increasing access to, and enhancement of, services for the whanau and communities across our District.”


Media contact:

Te Whatu Ora Capital, Coast & Hutt Valley: Chas Te Runa –

Wright Family Foundation: Chloe Wright

Notes for editors

Te Whatu Ora Capital, Coast & Hutt Valley

  • Te Whatu Ora Capital, Coast, & Hutt Valley delivers healthcare services for the Hutt Valley, Wellington, Porirua, and Kapiti region. Wellington Regional Hospital also provides tertiary services for the lower North and upper South Islands.
  • Around 5400 babies are born across the District each year – around 10 percent are born at under 37 weeks and require increased postnatal or neonatal care. This equates to around 500 admissions from the Capital, Coast & Hutt Valley District alone.
  • The Hutt SCBU cares for babies aged 32-40 weeks, and some post-term babies. Babies requiring tertiary-level care can be stabilised in SCBU and transferred to the Wellington NICU. SCBU supports around 350 admissions annually.
  • The Wellington NICU supports 850-900 admissions annually, and provides intensive and specialist care for babies across the central region. NICU babies range from those born after 23 week and sick term infants, to babies requiring surgery. NICU also cares for babies with birth abnormalities, some of whom need surgery and care from other specialties including genetics and metabolic services.
  • A transitional care unit model will prevent or reduce the separation of parents and babies by providing safe and professional whanau-led care in an environment designed to meet their needs. The model enables infants who do not require ongoing NICU/SCBU admission, but who still require more care, to be stabilised and prepared for primary health care.
  • The unit will also ease pressure across District services – enabling discharge from Maternity Services and SCBU to the unit, freeing up NICU beds by enabling Hutt Valley infants with higher respiratory needs to be transferred back to SCBU, and supporting shorter stays in hospital.
  • The unit will also deliver primary birthing and post-natal services where service demands and workforce levels permit.