The Canterbury Neonatal Unit Trust Fund is the original Neonatal Trust in Christchurch set up in 1992 with three main aims.

  • The Trust wished to help provide extra facilities and funds for parents of children admitted to the Neonatal Unit (for example to help with travel expenses for out of town parents, or to provide various items that might make the parents time at Christchurch women’s neonatal unit more pleasant).
  • To facilitate post-graduate education of health professionals working in the Neonatal Unit (particularly nursing and para-medical staff, who normally have little access to funds and ongoing education).
  • To provide equipment beyond the basic resources provided by the hospital management.

The original trustees included doctors working in the NICU, nurses, lawyer and parents of children who had been in the NICU and who shared these aims.

The setting up of the trust was prompted by the economic constraint the area Health Board was under at the time to meet its obligations to provide the resources demanded by the workload of the neonatal unit, so there was little scope for extras. Infants were transferred out to Greenlane for heart surgery whilst other infants were transferred to our unit from the West Coast, Kaikoura and even Dunedin for surgery. Parents of these infants had the extra expense of not being in their home city and the financial assistance given by the ministry of Health only provided for the mother.

Nurses also needed to constantly up skill their nursing practice and there were no funds to assist them to attend conferences or courses. The Trust saw a need here too.

In the early days, there were many fundraising events and our trustees never turned down the opportunity to put their dinner suits and bow ties and give a talk if it meant a donation. Since then we have been very fortunate that although we have a relatively low profile  within the community, funds continue to come to the Trust, but we are always mindful of the need to keep looking for innovative ways of raising money.

Over the years, the financial assistance of the ministry of Health has provided to out of town parents has increased, but we still assist on the individual need of a family even if they are not from out of town. There is an approved amount of money all nurses can apply for once a year to attend a conference and in some cases this can be exceeded on an individual need.

The Trust continues to assist where it can and it appreciates the help it receives from individuals and companies.


Paul McEwan
Chairman of the Canterbury Neonatal Unit Trust Fund (since 1992)