Child Wellbeing & Whānau Support


Helping Thomas go home with his Whānau

Thomas with parents

Thomas with his Mum (Niamh) and Dad (Shaun).

When Thomas Mckain was born, he struggled to breathe. A blockage in his kidney meant amniotic fluid wasn’t reaching his lungs, and they hadn’t developed properly. Needing long-term breathing support to survive, ten years ago Thomas would have faced a life in hospital.

Today, thanks to Starship donors like you who helped fund Starship’s Long-term Ventilation Care pilot programme, children like Thomas can live a much more regular life.

“We can be a family,” says mum, Niamh. Starship’s care team, led by Long-term Ventilation Care Coordinator Denise Rew, has helped Niamh and husband Shaun learn to be Thomas’s carers. That means, finally, they can take him home.

“For children like Thomas and his family, there really is no place like home. My role is to help them live their ‘best life’.” Denise Rew, Long-term Ventilation Care Coordinator

“It’s the little things. Like lying on the floor playing with Thomas, and taking him out for walks,” says Shaun.

By training local care teams and helping arrange support in their local community, Denise’s expertise permeates hospitals and communities across Aotearoa New Zealand. The impact for children and whānau is immense.

“My role is to help these families and children live the most regular life possible at home,” she says. Thank you for helping fund Denise’s role in 2021, ensuring families like the Mckains get home and live a happy, mostly regular life within their community.


"Thank you to everyone who supports Starship. We wouldn’t have made it home without you.” Thomas’s mum Niamh


Making tough times more bearable

Whānau-centered care in a world-class setting supports the journey to better health for our sick and injured children and their families. Together we’re making tough times more bearable and the healthcare journey easier.

With your help, we're giving children and their families the best Starship experience possible.

For some children and whānau, a trip to Starship can be a very challenging experience. That’s why the Starship Foundation invests in impact programmes designed to support child and family wellbeing, with some wonderful recent highlights to share.

With our support Starship Child Health has now embedded a Māori Health Team headed by Toni Shepherd as Director of Māori Health at Starship, seeking to improve the health journey for tamariki Māori and their whānau, to ultimately achieve equitable outcomes.

In 2021, the Starship Foundation funded a registered Child Psychologist for Te Puaruruhau – Starship’s child protection team. The primary role is to assist children and families with issues of abuse or neglect. In addition, the Psychologist upskills the team’s clinicians, develops pathways to help children and families navigate community services, and provides clinical expertise for day-to-day situations

250 children referred to the Child Psychologist by Oranga Tamariki, 76 gateway assessments made in 6 months.

With your help, we continued funding the Long-term Ventilation Care Coordinator pilot programme in 2021.

Thanks to generous Starship supporters like you, Nurse Specialist Denise Rew teaches parents how to manage their child’s care. That means children who need long-term ventilation support to survive can live their best life at home, instead of being confined to hospital.

Within Starship, supporters like you have continued to make a significant difference to the wellbeing of our children and staff.

Starship’s Long-term Ventilation Care Coordinator supports 17 children on long-term ventilation as of June 2022

"Whitinga ora pēpi (interpreted as ‘babies transitioning to wellness) provides wraparound care for babies and their whānau who are not quite ready to go home, but do not need the support of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), such as those who are born late pre-term or premature. The unit is the first of its kind in the country, set up in collaboration between NICU and Te Toka Tumai Auckland (formerly ADHB) Women’s Health.

8 homelike rooms in Whitinga ora pēpi opened in November 2021

There are so many other projects you’ve helped us realise, too. You’ve helped us provide overnight palliative care support at home for parents looking after children nearing the end of their life. You’ve guaranteed continued funding for the Patient Focused Booking System to give caregivers a choice of appointment times, in some areas halving the rate of missed appointments. You’ve funded an expansion of Starship’s Pain Service. And you’ve helped us provide Play Specialist support to Starship’s Radiology and Emergency Departments.

Thank you sincerely for ensuring our children and whānau have the best experience possible… both in hospital, and in the community.

You can find out more about your impact at the links below or read the complete 2021/2022 Starship Foundation Impact Report


Previous Starship Foundation Impact Reports can be found here.