New mental health facility for Waikato

  • Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
  • Hon Dr David Clark
Prime Minister Health

The Government has approved funding for a new acute mental health facility for Waikato which will provide better care and support to people with mental health and addiction issues.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Dr David Clark announced the $100 million project to replace the aging Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre during a visit to Hamilton. 

“This Government has made taking mental health seriously a priority since day one,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“It’s important New Zealanders can access the mental health and addiction services they need at an early stage. That’s why we’re building new frontline services as part of our record investment in mental health and addiction.

“Having the right facilities that support people’s treatment and recovery is also a key part of our plan.

“The current Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre is no longer fit for purpose. It’s outdated and does not provide the right environment to support a focus on recovery and mental wellbeing for patients, despite the hard work by dedicated staff. 

“A new purpose built facility will provide a modern environment with patient and whānau centred spaces,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Health Minister Dr David Clark says it’s important our mental health and addiction facilities are not only purpose-built, but they also need to meet the growing demand for services.

“Over the last nine years, there’s been a 72 percent increase in people seen by Waikato DHB’s mental health and addiction services. Each month, there are nearly 100 admissions to the Henry Rongomau Bennet Centre, which has 53 beds.

“This new facility is expected to have capacity for an extra 10-20 more beds. That will make a real difference.

“Today’s announcement gives the Waikato DHB the greenlight to push ahead with its planning and development of its indicative business case. 

“The design will continue to be informed by people with lived experience of mental health and addiction issues, their whānau, iwi and community providers, as well as staff and other health and social services,” David Clark said.

Planning and design work continues alongside the business case development. The indicative business case is expected to be complete early next year, followed by the detailed business case in early 2021. Funding is subject to approval of the final business case. Grounds works are expected to start in 2022, with the facility due to open in 2023. 

NOTE: Today’s announcement is the latest in a growing list of investments this Government has made in our hospitals and other health facilities. Since Budget 2018 funding has been confirmed for projects up and down New Zealand including:

  • $300m redevelopment of Taranaki Base Hospital, building a new East Wing to house a range of critical and acute services
  • $275m for Auckland DHB to address significant infrastructure challenges at Auckland City Hospital and Greenlane Clinical Centre 
  • $200m (plus $42.1m from the DHB) for a new elective surgery unit at North Shore Hospital 
  • $80m for four projects at Counties Manukau DHB including recladding of the Kidz First Building and establishing a radiology hub at the Manukau SuperClinic
  • $79m for new specialist mental health facilities at Canterbury DHB’s Hillmorton campus
  • $45.6m for the new Wellington Children’s Hospital
  • $30m for a new integrated stroke unit at Auckland DHB
  • $24m for new endoscopy and cardiac care capacity at Northland DHB’s Whangarei Hospital 
  • $20m for new Buller Hospital Integrated Family Unit
  • $8.4m for Individualised Service Units at Capital and Coast DHB for our most high needs intellectual disability and mental health patients 
  • $7.1m for the Phase 2 redevelopment at Bay of Islands Hospital
  • $15-20m for new in-patient mental health and addiction unit at Hauora Tairāwhiti Gisborne Hospital

In addition, good progress is being made on the Dunedin Hospital rebuild project and Budget 2019 included a ring-fenced contingency to fund the work.