Wānaka’s first primary birthing unit opened

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon joined Health Minister Dr Shane Reti to officially open a new primary birthing unit in Wānaka today.

Dr Reti says the event demonstrates the Government’s commitment to improving health infrastructure and is particularly special as it will support many families before birth and in the first days of life.

“The Prime Minister and I were honoured to open Wānaka’s first birthing unit and to be here in person for the naming of the new facility, Rākai Kahukura,” says Dr Reti.

“The birthing unit includes a birthing room with ensuite and birthing pool, four post-natal rooms with ensuites, an onsite antenatal clinic with four rooms, a community room for relaxation and education and a whānau room.

“This facility and the incredible staff who will work here will make a real difference for many local families, who until now have faced long and potentially stressful travel to give birth.

“Each year, we expect Rākai Kahukura to support about 400 families and 50 births.

“I understand the unit will welcome pregnant women and families from 29 July this year, following an open day for the community to explore the new facility.”

The birthing unit is a big step forward for infrastructure in Otago, but Dr Reti acknowledged there is still work to do to expand access to healthcare in the Central Lakes area.

“This Government is focused on improving the public services New Zealanders rely on, including healthcare. Our goal is for all New Zealanders to have timely access to quality healthcare.

“I know the Central Lakes community has experienced significant population growth and we are committed to improving access to services and the delivery of quality healthcare, especially for rural communities and growing areas such as Wānaka.

“Facilities like this are a positive step forward but I also recognise that planning for new infrastructure and workforce need to go hand in hand. I am encouraged to see recent growth in our health workforce, with Health New Zealand now employing more nurses and midwives than ever before.”

At the event, Dr Reti also announced further investment for a new Primary Birthing Unit in Clyde.

The additional funding will see construction start at the Dunstan Hospital site in early 2025. It’s expected to be able to welcome patients by 2026. As a combined investment of $11 million, the Wānaka and Clyde Primary Birthing Units bring additional key health services to the region.

“This will add further birthing facilities to the region, improving access to services and the delivery of quality healthcare,” Dr Reti says.