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Starship Rainforest Atrium Comes to Life


20 June 2005

Starship Rainforest Atrium Comes to Life

Over the last eight weeks, the Atrium of Starship Children's Hospital has been transformed from a tired well-used space into a 'New Zealand Rain Forest'.

The Rain Forest is already bringing a smile to the faces of young patients and their families facing a stay in hospital thanks to a $100,000 grant from the SKYCITY Community Trust and a host of trade supporters.

Ten-year-old Mosimane Tuitupou of Glenfield has been receiving treatment at Starship for Ewings Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer since June 2004. She says the rainforest atrium "is a good idea for kids who have to stay in hospital and can't go outside." Mosimane and her siblings, Memory aged 5 and Manu aged 2 visit Starship on a weekly basis for Mosimane's check ups and always include a diversion to the atrium playground for a bit of fun.

Their mother Tina says from a parent's perspective the atrium "is an area to go for peace and quiet." She thinks the rainforest design is "brilliant and something different" for the children.

Jireh (11) and Hiri (10) Edmonds of Kaikohe have been daily visitors to Starship for the past three months while their brother Lazarus, aged one, receives treatment for a liver condition.

The pair attend the hospital school and often take a break from studying or visiting their brother on the ward to play in the Atrium. Hiri says "it's a good place to meet other kids at hospital who are here like you; we have made friends with other kids from home". They reckon the floor is the best bit because of the water pattern depicting a stream flowing through the forest.

Nine-year-old James Daniels of Waiuku has been a patient at Starship since January receiving treatment for bone and lung cancer. James says after five months in hospital he can get pretty bored up in the ward and the atrium is a fun place to hang out. According to James the new rainforest is "way better" and "the only thing missing is the animals". His mother Deborah says from a parent's perspective, "it's a good place to sit down in a peaceful atmosphere and have some time out from the ward".

Key features of the Rain Forest include:
- seven-metre high recycled timber telephone poles to represent trees
- giant clouds and canopies
- Macrocarpa log benches
- printed vinyl floor tiles representing the forest floor, river stones and a bubbling stream
- digitally printed forest mural wallpaper
- boulders (schist, basalt, limestone)

Starship Foundation CEO Andrew Young says "the central area is dedicated to recreation and play and provides a space where children and their families can enjoy time together, away from the wards and difficulties associated with being ill and in hospital. The Rain Forest refurbishment will create a nurturing and comforting environment for patients and their families who are often dealing with stressful and traumatic circumstances."

"Since its last renovation in 1999, by the "April's Angels' TV show, heavy use has left the area tired and worn looking. We are thrilled with the new Rain Forest design, which will provide a relaxing and healing space to enjoy time out, have fun and play during hospital visits," said Mr Young.

The SKYCITY Auckland Community Trust granted $100,000 towards the renovation project in 2004, with many of the building materials donated by industry sponsors. Trust Chairperson Jock Irvine says that the donation by SKYCITY will provide a much-needed facelift for the central meeting point at Starship Hospital.

"As the country's national children's hospital, it's important to provide a special environment for our young patients and their families during what can be a traumatic and stressful time.

"Complete with rocks, clouds, nature trails, trees and log benches, the rainforest is a refuge and healing space to enjoy time out, have fun and play," he says.
The Atrium will be officially re-opened on Monday 20th June by Dick Hubbard, Mayor of Auckland and Bob Harvey, Mayor of Waitakere City, two of the civic leaders who take an active interest in Starship.

The SKYCITY Auckland Community Trust was voluntarily established in 1996 as part of SKYCITY Auckland's casino licence application process. It provides funds for community and charitable purposes. To date more than $15 million has been distributed to more than 600 community groups.

For further information about the Trust, the criteria for applications or for an application form, please visit or fax SKYCITY on 09 363 6323.


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