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Southland Charity Hospital Community Family Room

A true community effort

8 July 2022


  • New community family room adds further facilities to Southland Charity Hospital
  • Building materials and labour donated by local and national businesses
  • Project managed and supported by Mitre 10 MEGA Invercargill Helping Hands


A combined effort by the Southland community has delivered another milestone in the development of the Southland Charity Hospital with the deck completed and kitchen installed in the community family room, which will provide a haven for family members of patients and community health support.

Southland Charity Hospital was established to provide Southlanders with better access to cancer care, following Blair Vining’s highly publicised battle with terminal bowel cancer. Blair and his wife Melissa championed the call to make cancer care equitable for all Kiwi, given the chronic under-resourcing of health services in Southland. After Blair lost his battle, Melissa was determined to see change, and has been the driving force in bringing the community together to build the hospital. 

Originally an old pub, the building was gifted by the local Invercargill Licencing Trust and the hospital has literally been built by locals, who have helped however they could – be it volunteering time and labour, donating materials or fundraising.  

Mitre 10 MEGA Invercargill became deeply connected with the project and took on managing the renovation of the community family room and the building of a new deck as part of its Helping Hands community support programme. 

The warm generously sized space will have kitchen facilities, comfortable lounge-style seating, and a lovely north facing deck leading out to the Blair Vining Memorial Garden. As well as being a peaceful space for families to relax in, the community family room has been designed to accommodate other health-related services like first aid training and ante-natal classes. 

Mitre 10 MEGA Invercargill General Manager Tracy Key mustered support from far and wide, sourcing materials and labour from suppliers and local trades. She said if felt only right that, as Southlanders, the team should do something to help: 

“Like all New Zealanders, we were just captivated by Blair’s journey and the huge commitment that Melissa has made to build this hospital and to build it here in Invercargill for the Southland and Otago community. Helping Hands is our way to do our part for community groups and not for profit organisations and we do that by getting practically stuck in and really hands-on.”

The sense of community that delivered this much-needed resource for Southland and Otago will be evident everywhere you look – from the Bricks for Blair walls and pathways featuring supporters’ names, to the collaborative effort co-ordinated by Tracy and her Helping Hands team.

Melissa Vining, founder, board trustee and driving force behind the Southland Charity Hospital Project, said the project has brought people from across Otago and Southland, all working together. 

“Businesses that would normally be competing have literally come together, volunteered their time, whether it’s been trade, labourers, suppliers, farmers, builders, everybody is working together and donating their time to help complete the project. The Mitre 10 community space will benefit everyone, from ante-natal classes to first aid classes – anyone in the community that needs a really nice space to work.”

Mitre 10 MEGA Invercargill is hugely grateful for the support of the businesses that contributed to the community family room: 

  • Resene – donated all paint
  • HG Morsink Ltd – painted the room at heavily discounted price
  • H&J Smith Ltd – donated blinds and curtains 
  • Hafele – donated half of the kitchen  
  • Monaco – donated the kitchen appliances
  • O’Briens – donated the benchtop
  • Windsor Architectural Hardware – donated cabinetry handles
  • Glass Art – donated glass splash back
  • Andrew Lamb – installed kitchen at discounted price 
  • PBS – discount given on boiling hot water unit 
  • Laser Electrical – electrical install of lights
  • Stuarts Timber – donated timber for the deck
  • Watford Construction – donated labour to build the deck