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The Matatiki Story

The journey to wellness is one no child ever has to go through alone. No matter how short or long that journey may be, our Child Health services ensure Canterbury’s children (tamariki) are supported, cared for and treasured every step of the way.

More than five years ago, Canterbury DHB’s Child Health team leaders began working on a way to bring the wide variety of Child Health services under one umbrella.

“It’s important that tamariki know that no matter where they are, they have a soft place to land,” Director of Nursing, Christchurch Hospital Lynne Johnson says.

Working with Executive Director of Māori Health Hector Matthews, the name Matatiki – which is Māori for spring of water – was agreed upon as a reflection of the abundance of water and springs around the main hospital campus which feed into Ōtakaro (the Avon River). The name is also a good representation of regeneration, rejuvenation and the return to wellness.

“A spring provides one of the most essential ingredients of life and wellbeing: fresh, clean, running water. After oxygen, there is nothing more essential to wellbeing and indeed to life, so Matatiki is a metaphor for child health as a spring of wellness for tamariki and whānau,” Hector says.

The new brand incorporates backgrounds that have been used to create attractive curtains and decals for the walls and windows around the hospital.

“As our tamariki make their journey, they will be accompanied by some very special friends – our native birds and creatures,” Lynne says.

More than 70 critters, from insects and birds to fish and butterflies, have been chosen.

“From the tuna (longfin eel) and kōaro in our streams to the wētā and tunga rere (huhu beetle) in our trees, right up to our winged friends, the kererū (wood pigeon) and kāhu (harrier hawk), our young people will know they’re in a special place just for them when they see our beautiful creatures alongside them.”

Matatiki is a touchstone for our young people − a sign that this is a place of support where their care and wellbeing is paramount, and a place to give young people and their whānau the comfort of familiarity during what can be stressful times.

Matatiki has been supported in its own journey by the Māia Health Foundation and many clever, creative and compassionate people, Lynne says.

“We are grateful for the dedication and determination of everyone involved in bringing this concept to fruition, and we’re proud to share it with Canterbury.”

Page last updated: 12 January 2021

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