House Families

The strength and courage of the families that stay with us is an inspiration. Over the years RMHC® New Zealand has welcomed thousands of families from all over New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Each year around 3,700 families call our Houses home.

There is no better way to understand the value of our House than hearing from the families directly. Some families have shared their story and journey with Ronald McDonald House® below, highlighting the different circumstances which bring them here and what their stay meant to them.

The Innes Smith Family

The Innes Smith family from Christchurch love celebrating Christmas. Every year, together with their extended family, they enjoy a BBQ in the sun. But last year they couldn’t be home for Christmas. Daughter Holly (then nine) had been receiving special medical treatment at the National Children’s Hospital in Auckland since August, while her parents Debbie and Jim, and her three younger sisters stayed close by at Ronald McDonald House.

“It was a Christmas week! There were about four Christmas parties put on by volunteers, beautiful food and so many presents. The kids were utterly spoilt rotten – which they adored! What the staff and volunteers did for families like ours was amazing.”

The Allan Family

The Allan family from Whangamata have been staying at Ronald McDonald House on and off for over two years, while 3-year-old Mason receives specialist treatment and awaits a kidney transplant. To celebrate Father’s Day, our friends at nib helped us plan a surprise day out for dad Matt and the whole family! See the video of their day by clicking on ‘Read More’.

“We’ve had a difficult couple of years, but the support of RMHC New Zealand has been invaluable – it truly is a ‘home-away-from-home’ and we know none of it would be possible without partners such as nib.”

The Faulkner Family

Racheal Lincoln and Jesse Faulkner know better than most the support RMHC New Zealand provides. They were awaiting the arrival of their first child when – just four days before their due date – they were told that Racheal needed to give birth in Wellington.

“It was very comforting knowing that we could go back and forth from the House at any time of the day or night. Being just across the road took all the stress out of travelling from other accommodation.”

The Rigby Family

The Rigby family from Timaru were visiting Wellington when their son Melakai had an asthma attack at 12 years old. He was taken to Wellington Hospital where his condition worsened. Melakai finally got his breath back with medication but needed to stay in hospital for a few nights for monitoring.

“It definitely helped us in a time of stress. Everything was taken care of. We didn’t have to worry about anything else, we could just focus on our family”

The Smith Family

In 2014 Rosie Smith and her family were living in China when she took their 20-month-old son Reef to the doctor. She suspected he was teething or had an earache, but after numerous blood tests, she was told what no parent wants to hear. Reef had leukaemia.

“Each trip to Auckland for Reef’s treatment is still exhausting and emotional. Knowing that the House is there and what it offers makes packing and travelling north much easier.”

The Kupa Family

Four-year-old (now six) Caleb Kupa had been having stomach pains for a long time without any diagnosis. He had been in for numerous blood tests without any alarming results. So when mum Rachael took him to Rotorua hospital for faster access to scans, she was sure it couldn’t be anything serious. However, an ultrasound scan found an unknown mass in Caleb’s abdomen. On arrival in Auckland, Caleb was admitted into hospital and the family were able to stay close by at Ronald McDonald House.

“The staff were always there for a hug, you didn’t have to say a word, just a comforting hug.”

The Dick Family

The Dick family from Invercargill have been staying at Ronald McDonald House since February this year, while 9-year-old Nathanael undergoes and recovers from a kidney transplant.  To celebrate Mother’s Day, our friends at ASB helped us surprise Carla by flying up her whole family from Invercargill, including her husband Grant and all 10 of their children! See the video of their reunion by clicking on ‘Read More’.

“My kids could not believe anyone could pull this off without me getting wind of it. You all did though. Hardly got any sleep on Friday night going over and over again that moment when I realised the people that mean the most to me were all here in one room.”

The Diprose Family

When a brother is his sister’s perfect bone marrow donor match, it’s more important than ever for a family to be together at a Ronald McDonald House®. The Diprose family from Matamata know this all too well. Earlier this year, dairy farmers Jackie and Marc’s daughter, Kate, had relapsed with leukaemia, aged just nine years when her big brother, Fletch, was confirmed a perfect match. Faced with treatment in Auckland, the family found solace in knowing they could all stay together at Ronald McDonald House amongst all the uncertainty.

“I’d hate to think what our journey would’ve looked like without the House. We probably would have had to sell everything and move to Auckland.”

The Sim Family

In early 2014, Hazel and Andrew Sim from Napier welcomed Carter into the world. Little did they know the massive journey that this little bundle of joy was about to take them on. Carter was just eight weeks old when the Sim family made their first trip to Ronald McDonald House® in Auckland.

“The House was our lifeline to normality, and massive reason we could help Carter get through anything thrown at him.”

The Dixon Family

When Hamilton parents Estelle and Nathan Dixon’s little girl was born in June last year, they never envisaged their first Christmas with her would be spent at the hospital in Auckland.  Poppy was just 11 weeks old when mum Estelle noticed something wasn’t right. Poppy’s heart had been beating very hard and soon after, she started vomiting.

“Our baby girl was so sick, we weren’t sure she would survive. The House was there as a sanctuary away from all things clinical.”

The Bateman Family

A normal day at kindy took a turn for the worse and life for the Bateman family from Palmerston North changed drastically. When playing outside two-year-old Toby picked up a leaf to show his teacher, and when she bent down she noticed that his pupils were different sizes. It didn’t take long before Toby was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma.

“The families staying at the House all understand your exact situation and the staff are just wonderful. You have so much support that it doesn’t feel all bad.”

The Foreman Family

Bay of Plenty mum Victoria Foreman always knew she would need to give birth to baby Nixon in Auckland. She’d been told Nixon would need to receive specialist treatment for his heart at the National Children’s Hospital. However, it all happened much earlier than expected when Victoria developed severe preeclampsia and was flown to Auckland Hospital on an emergency flight. Their initial four week stay turned into four months as Nixon’s condition was worse than anticipated.

“Often you can feel like you’re the only one going through hard times, but meeting the other families makes you realise you are definitely not alone.”

The Shury Family

The Shury family from Waitara began their journey with Ronald McDonald House when their twin daughters were prematurely born. Kate and Pete’s girls were delivered at just 29 weeks in Wellington Hospital, more than 350km away from home.After Evelyn and Eloise were born, Kate and Pete stayed at Ronald McDonald House just across the road from their baby girls.

“The staff and volunteers had total open love and were just so giving and nurturing.”

The Tamihere Family

The Tamiheres first arrived at Ronald McDonald House in 2014 after Mikaera underwent a bone marrow transplant. Mikaera has since made a long but steady recovery and has become a vocal advocate for our charity. 

“My treatment was long and I couldn’t go home to Kawerau for almost a year, it would have been harder if I didn’t have my family!”