A wealthy property developer is to build and gift a new $50 million children's hospital in Wellington.
Mark Dunajtschik signed an agreement with Capital & Coast District Health Board this morning to build the facility, which would have 50 inpatient hospital beds as well as space for families.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman welcomed the generosity of Mr Dunajtschik, who he said had been a substantial benefactor in the areas of health, sport and education for 40 years.
This latest act of giving back was unparalleled, he said.
While many details were still to be confirmed, the new hospital was expected to be about 7000 square metres and built within the existing Wellington Regional Hospital campus.
Construction was expected to begin early next year and take about 18 months to complete.
Capital & Coast DHB chairman Andrew Blair, who made the initial announcement, said the offer was "amazingly generous" and would have a big impact on patients, families and staff.
The existing children's hospital was nearly 30 years old and no longer fit for purpose, he said.
"We've been working on a long-term plan for child health services, which included a new children's hospital - but building wasn't going to start for several years.
"Mr Dunajtschik's generosity means we'll get the hospital much sooner."
Mr Blair said the DHB would be working with Mr Dunajtschik's team on the new hospital's design.
The Wellington Hospital's Foundation aims to fund-raise $5m for extra furniture, fittings and equipment for the new hospital.
And the DHB said it would need to contribute up to $7.5m for activities outside the project, such as demolishing existing buildings on the site.
Gift shouldn't have been needed to make upgrade happen - Paediatric Society
A leading child health expert said it should not have taken the multi-million dollar gift to get a new children's hospital in the capital.
Paediatric Society president David Newman said it was wonderful but should not have had to wait for private support.
"You only build a hospital facility once every 20 or 30 years. It does need to be planned for, it does need to be paid for ... But to not do it to save money does not help in the provision of high-quality health care that we expect in this country."
The DHB said the upgrade was in its long-term plan and it would have liked to have seen it happen in the next five to 10 years.
Who is Mark Dunajtschik?
Mark Dunajtschik was born in Germany and will celebrate 60 years in New Zealand next year.
He founded an engineering business, which he ran for 28 years, then started buying and building property, developing a portfolio of large commercial properties in Wellington. His portfolio has included Asteron Centre, Environment House and the HSBC Tower.
According to the DHB, Mr Dunajtschik's decision to make the donation followed a conversation with his partner Dorothy Spotswood, who said she couldn't think of a more worthy project.
The developer has opted to build the new hospital then gift it, rather than simply donate the funds to build it, in the belief that his expertise will make that the most efficient option.
Source: Capital & Coast DHB / RNZ