Our History

Tōtara Hospice has been serving the south and southeast Auckland community with holistic palliative care services for just under 40 years now.

A small group of people, led by Father Francis Fennell and his wife Beatrice shared a belief that no one with a terminal illness within their community would meet death unsupported.

Humble beginnings, $3,000 and a dream...

Many people within the community shared this belief as they had experienced the trauma of losing a loved one without adequate support - both clinical and emotional.

With an abundance of determination, support groups were formed in 1981 in Papakura, Manurewa and Papatoetoe.

In 1982 the Trust Deed was signed for the South Auckland Hospice Charitable Trust. The hope was to eventually have a purpose-built Hospice. It was clear that given the amount of funding this would require, this was not going to be attainable for some time. In the interim the founding group decided to take services directly to the patient’s own home and build awareness of the hospice service and philosophy. 

As community awareness and support grew, the dream of having a purpose built hospice facility was realised in 1983 with the possession of keys to “No. 18” Kelvyn Grove, Manurewa (once a rest home). This was secured with a $3,000 deposit, enabled by a anonymous donor who was willing to facilitate the sale for the lowest price affordable.

In 1984 the first paid team member, Nursing Director Judy Macready, was appointed. In 1988 our first paid medical doctor joined us, Dr. Rob Dunlop

Father Francis Fennell & wife Beatrice

1982 - The Original Trust Members

In that same year, through the generosity of the Stevenson family amongst others the Kelvin Grove site was able to expend and our team grew according.

By the mid 90s it was clear that a larger purpose built facility was needed. With the support of the community of south and southeast Auckland “Totara Lodge” was officially opened by Judith Bassett, Chairperson of ASB Trust on 3rd October 1999.

1987 - Upgrading Fennell House

1999 - South Auckland Hospice Staff just prior to moving

1999 - A new beginning

We feel a strong sense of stewardship and accountability to continue to develop the vision of our founders.
Since these humble beginnings with only a few patients we have grown into the organisation we are today - serving over 1,100 families annually. ​

A detailed story of our history can be downloaded here.

Tōtara Hospice Timeline Overview

1978  Trust fund established (sometimes referred to as the Fennell Fund)
           Deed of Trust legalised

1981  Support groups formed in Papakura, Manurewa and Papatoetoe

1982  The Trust Deed signed
           First Home Care visit made

1983  Possession of “No. 18” (Kelvyn Grove, Manurewa) taken with a $3000 deposit

1984  First paid team member, Judy Macready, appointed as Nursing Director
           Stevenson House donated by a local real estate agency

1985  Day Hospice is opened, operating on Wednesdays each week

1987  Fennell House is upgraded to an In-patient Unit and the Day Hospice and Administrative services are moved across the driveway to the newly donated Stevenson House

1988  Doctor Rob Dunlop becomes the first paid doctor to work for the South Auckland Hospice Charitable Trust

1990  The 7-bed In-patient Unit opens, Father Francis Fennell passes away

1994  First limited funding received from the District Health Board 

1997  Staff numbers reach 25

1999  April: Read the South Auckland Hospice Newsletter
          May: Move to current location, 140 Charles Prevost Drive, a purpose built facility

2001  Staff numbers reach 40 paid staff and 420 volunteers

2004  Accreditation received

2007  Numbers reach 500 families, 100 staff and 491 volunteers

2008 “South Auckland Hospice Charitable Trust” changes name to “Hospice South Auckland”

2010  First Sunrise Walk for Hospice - now a staple in our Community Events Calendar 

2011  “Hospice South Auckland” becomes “Tōtara Hospice South Auckland”

2013  Totara House redevelopment opening - the Fundraising Team launches the first Long Lunch and Ladies Lunch event

2017  35 Year Anniversary

2019  “Tōtara Hospice South Auckland” becomes “Tōtara Hospice”

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