In October 2017, the Te Omanga Hospice heritage buildings will go, but the spirit and wairua of this special site will remain. The video captures this for present and future communities of the Hutt Valley.

Bytesize-Aspire are proud to have the opportunity to complete this unique heritage project.

“A Place of Refuge – Te Omanga Hospice” 2018. 27 minutes.
Te Omanga Hospice Heritage documentary celebrates 40 years of hospice care in the Valley. Research, interviews, support camera, graphic design, Archive management, Co-direction.

“A Place of Refuge – Te Omanga Hospice”, generously funded by Lower Hutt City Council Heritage Fund. Written by Paul Davidson, Research and Design by Barbara Gibb, Narration by Keth Quinn, MNZM.

“A Place of Refuge – Te Omanga Hospice” 27 minutes. Premieres July 2018.

Creative direction in collaboration with Paul Davidson of Bytesize Productions


Te Omanga Hospice celebrates 40 years of service to the Hutt Valley in 2019.

Te Omanga inherited wonderful gardens from Alfred Ludlam‘s 1840 farm, birthplace of Lower Hutt as the “First Garden City” in pioneer New Zealand. Becoming the famous Bellevue Gardens, this small corner of last remaining Nikau forest and heritage trees bridges the earliest settler aspirations to our modern day city. That inheritance became the Te Omanga sanctuary for healing, hospice and hope.

Extensive archival images and some footage from Te Omanga library, the Cooper family and the Mitchell family collections, Archive New Zealand, Hutt City Library, and from personal archival collections. Research, oral histories, digital and data wrangling was a large part of Aspire Design’s contribution in this project.

In 1877 James McNab opened the gardens to the public. Day trippers would travel from Wellington to enjoy the park-like surroundings, play tennis, have tea in the summer houses or play croquet and bowls on the greens. That inheritance became the sanctuary for healing, hospice and hope.

In 1922 George Cooper purchased three acres, subsequently building the original house on the hospice property in 1927 at the cost of ₤5,065. The Cooper family owned the property until 1940 when, following several changes of ownership, it was purchased by the Carmelites in 1951 as a monastery. In 1953, ownership was taken over by Archbishop McKeefry for the Cenacle Sisters as a retreat house and novitiate. The site remains deeply spiritual, no matter your beliefs, for the many Lower Hutt community who have been cared for or have departed from this special place.

Te Omanga Hospice Trustees purchased the property in 1991 following a major fundraising campaign within the community. Philanthropist Sir Roy McKenzie and a group of forward thinking pioneers set up New Zealand’s first hospice.

Following the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, the hospice is planning to meet rigorous earthquake standards for the future, respecting the rich heritage, and delivering best practice palliative care to the Hutt Valley community.