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Child Cancer Foundation Opens Christchurch Family Place

Media release

Child Cancer Foundation Opens Christchurch Family Place and Announces New Partnership

Four years after it was demolished, the doors to the Child Cancer Foundation’s new Family Place are open to children, and their families, receiving treatment at Christchurch Hospital as well as local families on the cancer journey.

After much planning, fundraising and building, the Family Place on Cashel Street was officially opened by the Child Cancer Foundation’s Chairman Jim Boult and 2015 National Ambassador Jock Davies today (26 June).

The event also included the announcement of a significant partnership between the Child Cancer Foundation and Ngāi Tahu Pounamu.

The original Family Place building was damaged in the 2010 earthquake, but following the 2011 quake the building was demolished.

Child Cancer Foundation Chief Executive Robyn Kiddle says during the intervening years the Foundation’s team continued to support families from temporary locations.

“We set-up shop from car boots, in rooms at the YMCA and at cafes and libraries. In 2012, we were kindly offered a rent-free building near the airport, thanks to the Christchurch International Airport,” says Ms Kiddle.

“With the opening of this new, purpose-built facility we can now provide a truly welcoming, comfortable, calm and relaxing place for our amazing children and their families, right next to the hospital.”

Ms Kiddle says in the last 12 months, the Foundation has supported many local families on the cancer journey as well as more than 90 families whose children were receiving cancer treatment at Christchurch Hospital. As one of only two treatment centres in the country, families come from Canterbury, the rest of the South Island and Wellington.

“Our new Family Place offers these families a safe haven to go between their child’s treatment times and enable parents to connect with others in a similar situation, helping them to feel less alone,” she says.

“Families will also be able to meet with their Child Cancer Foundation Family Support Coordinator at the centre as well as attend support group meetings and family social events there.”

One striking feature in the Family Place is the pounamu mauri stone gifted to the Child Cancer Foundation by Waewae Pounamu. The mauri stone has been named “E tū tamariki toa – Stand tall children”, and was blessed prior to taking pride of place in the building.

The gift signals a new partnership that will see Ngāi Tahu Pounamu donate pounamu beads each year to the Beads of Courage® programme. The new pounamu beads will be unique to the programme in New Zealand and the first bead a child receives when they are diagnosed with cancer.

“As part of the Ngāi Tahu Pounamu Authentication Scheme, each bead will have a unique authentication number, which allows the owner to trace the source of their particular piece of pounamu,” says Francois Tumahai, chair of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae on the West Coast.

“Pounamu is treasured throughout New Zealand for its strength and beauty. Because it is regarded as tapu (sacred), and having mauri (significant life force) and mana (status), we felt it was ideally suited to the Beads of Courage Programme.”

Three New Zealand children are diagnosed with cancer each week. In recognition of procedures and treatments each child undergoes, and the milestones achieved, during their battle with cancer they receive Beads of Courage from the Foundation.

Ms Kiddle says the significance of the pounamu bead is incredibly special to all New Zealanders and the Foundation is honoured to have been approached by Ngāi Tahu Pounamu to create this partnership.

“We know that our families will greatly appreciate this unique bead and the meaning behind it. Given the strong Ngāi Tahu connections to Canterbury, it is very appropriate that we are able to announce this initiative during the opening of our Christchurch Family Place.”

Utiku Poihakena-Jackson (5) was at the event with his family to receive the first pounamu bead from Child Cancer Foundation and Ngāi Tahu representatives. Utiku is receiving treatment for Lymphoma at Christchurch Hospital, and for his mother, Gina Malcolm, receiving the pounamu bead was incredibly special.

“We are very passionate about our Maori heritage and the cultural and spiritual significance of pounamu. It is a great privilege to fulfil the purpose of this taonga (pounamu),” says Ms Malcolm.

“Pounamu has such strong connections to the land - it grew from nature and is often centuries old. It is an honour to receive this first bead and we are very grateful to all the support we’ve received from the Child Cancer Foundation.”

Ms Malcolm says that it is extra significant that Utiku received the bead during the opening of the Family Place, as the facility will offer families a haven.

Having the Family Place back on its original site close to the hospital has been a priority for the Child Cancer Foundation and Robyn Kiddle says extensive fundraising has gone into off-setting the costs of the project.

“We are fortunate to have had the unwavering support of Fletcher Construction and our other principal supporters (Sheppard & Rout Architects Ltd, Cosgroves, Structex, Chapman Tripp, CIAL and PLANZ Consultants) throughout all stages of this important project,” says Ms Kiddle.

“We would also like to thank the many individuals who have helped by donating to this project and the businesses, large and small, that have generously reduced costs or provided goods-in-kind to assist us with the build, fit-out and furnishing of this important place for our families.”

Ms Kiddle says the Foundation aims to reduce the impact of cancer by offering services that ensure children and their families are supported, informed and well cared for at every stage of their cancer journey.

“This building will help give our families a sense of security and belonging during such an unprecedented period of their lives,” she says.

“We believe that the greater Christchurch community will also benefit from this contemporary community asset, and we’re pleased to be able to contribute to the rebuild of this wonderful city.”

The Child Cancer Foundation would like to thank the following businesses, organisations and donors who have generously supported the Christchurch Family Place project.

Principal Supporters:

Fletcher Construction, Sheppard & Rout Architects Ltd, Cosgroves, Structex, CIAL, PLANZ Consultants and Chapman Tripp

Project Partners:

Firth, NZ Brick Distributors, Fletcher Reinforcing, Paul Smith Earthmoving, John Jones Steel, Dulux Paint, Nind, TTT Products Ltd, Wayman Roofing, Window Treatments Christchurch, Beattie Group, Forman Commercial Interiors, Interior Plaster Services, Cladtex Painting Ltd, Placemakers Riccarton, Elliott Scaffolding, Mocka Children’s Furniture, Plumbing World, Sockburn Joinery, The Flooring Centre Christchurch, Knight Frank and Morgan and Pollard

Donors & Grants:

Vodafone Foundation, Avonhead Rotary Club, Josh South, R G Bell, Foodstuffs South Island Community Trust, The Warehouse Foundation


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