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About The Tree Hutt

The Tree Hutt is the name of the children’s area of the Hutt Hospital Emergency Department. The space provides visual, sensory and auditory distractions to help minimise any trauma a child might have from their hospital experience.  
Themed on New Zealand’s beautiful native flora and fauna, this child-friendly environment is adorned with murals, activities, books and toys.  
The Rata tree welcomes everyone to the area and Pip the Kiwi, Lulu the Huhu Bug, Matilda Morepork, Wiki the Weta, Poko the Kakapo and Sam the Tuatara will be on hand to guide each child’s’ journey.  
In the waiting area, children can push buttons to control a train that runs through the treetops. Native birds call as the train travels along the track. A plentiful supply of reading and activity books are on hand. This has all been designed based on the concept of ‘distraction therapy’. 

For many children, this is a pleasant distraction from the strange smells, sights, sounds, fears and anxiety that they may not have experienced before. Having the use of a focused and therapeutic area helps children and their family to understand and manage the experience of our emergency service. 


Meet our friends


Sam the Tuatara

Sam loves the sun. His favourite spot is a nice warm river rock, where he can stretch out and quietly watch the comings and goings in The Tree Hutt.
He is sometimes so still, you may walk right without even seeing him, but if you are patient enough, you might just see him move. Sometimes described as Lazy, Sam prefers to think of himself as a philosopher.
Poko the Kakapo

Poko likes to strut her stuff in front of visitors to The Tree Hutt, squawking loudly and wiggling her brightly coloured tail feathers.

She is a cheeky little one and it pays to watch out for your lunch, because she might just help herself (without asking). In fact, she is often so full of sandwiches, her wings won’t even take her off the ground. So, she tends to spend most of her time amongst the ferns and hopping between logs.


Matilda the Morepork
Matilda is a serious wee bird. She keeps a watchful eye on those in The Tree Hutt and always does her best to help the nurses. She loves a good book and can often be found amongst the book boxes in The Tree Hutt.
Lulu the Hu-hu
Lulu is the adventurous one. Each time she takes flight, she tries to go higher and higher. Some say she once made it to the moon (although there is no official record of this).
She loves to play games, especially hide and seek with children in The Tree Hutt. Watch out she doesn’t get stuck in your hair though, as her legs are covered in bristles and she can get very tangled.
Pip the Kiwi
Pip is very shy during the day and prefers to venture out at night. Her favourite food is a juicy green grub. She has wings, but they don’t work so well, so Pip spends most of her time amongst the ferns and tree roots.
She lives in a one bedroom hole in the bottom of a tree. She is good buddies with Sam the Tuatara, although she prefers basking in moonlight to the sun.
Wiki the Weta

Wiki is a charming young weta. He loves to hang out on the Rata tree where all the other insects can admire his good looks.
He is a top athlete, and is usually first over the line. With his large, springy back legs, he is always The Tree Hutt high jump champion.

Our Story

The vision for The Tree Hutt was initiated by Steph Beddis, Registered Nurses at Hutt Hospital. The successful development of The Tree Hutt owes much to the enthusiastic team of volunteers who helped make this vision a reality. 

Special thanks to the Silverstream Lions who invested the initial $10,000 and helped to raise further funds. And to designer Ann Wyatt and illustrator Rachel Driscoll, who donated many skilled hours to create the captivating and positive environment.  


Hear from the dedicated and talented team who brought The Tree Hutt vision to life:



“For a long time now I have made available activities, toys and rewards for bravery when sick or injured children visited our department. I could see how important play therapy was to their development and how it helps children cope better with stressful and painful situations.


Based on this, I completed a ‘Distraction Therapy’ project and was nominated by my peers for the ‘New Zealand’s Hardest Working Nurse’ competition, set up by Gareth Morgan. Imagine my surprise when I won the $10,000 prize money! I decided to spend it creating a unique distraction therapy environment in our new emergency department, now known as The Tree Hutt.” 


- Steph Beddis, Registered nurse 


“When Steph invited me to paint a mural for a project at the new ED at Hutt Hospital she went on to talk about her vision, I was caught up in her enthusiasm and wanted to make sure that this entire space was designed as an on-going, living project, more than just paint and paper but characters with sponsorship value  to continue funding for training and equipment. 

To see the flat drawings presented 12 months ago translated into a magical place for the entire Hutt Valley has been an amazing experience and to work within such a talented volunteer team especially Illustrator Rachel has been humbling.” 

- Ann Wyatt, interior designer and artist 


Rachel had the wonderful task of creating The Tree Hutt characters – Wiki the Weta, Matilda the Morepork, Lulu the Huhu, Sam the Tuatara, Poko the Kakapo and Pip the Kiwi. These loveable wee characters are on hand to guide children as they experience the Tree Hutt.  

Rachel was a part of the team that helped Ann to paint the mural and she also illustrated the giant blooming rata tree that greets visitors as they enter The Tree Hutt and The Brunsdon Train Station, which sits amongst the tree tops in the waiting area.  

“Bringing characters to life is one of my very favourite parts of being an illustrator” says Rachel, “and these little guys have a very important role to play at The Tree Hutt so I had to make sure that they were extra special.” 

- Rachel Driscoll, award winning children’s book illustrator 


“Building the train layout and features has involved a number of members and many hours of voluntary work. We are delighted to be part of this project and the group will continue to maintain the train and track on an ongoing basis,”  

- Chris Drowley, Wellington Garden Rail Club