Click here to view the 2021 Annual Report

Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) New Zealand opened its first programme in Wellington in 1991. 30 years on, our services at RMHC® New Zealand offer free accommodation and support for families with a child in hospital, in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, while our Ronald McDonald Family Room® programmes offer in-hospital respite in these cities as well as Invercargill. Our Ronald McDonald Family Retreat in Rotorua provides families a break together, while the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® program brings dental care to Northland and South Auckland children.

We are proud to say that in 2020, RMHC New Zealand never turned an eligible family away. Despite a year of enormous challenges, we have supported all families that needed our help during the global pandemic.

Every decision we made was driven by our mission: keeping families safe, keeping services open and available, and making sure our operating model was sustainable.

The foremost challenge was, of course, COVID-19. Our people rose to the occasion, showing how efficient, agile, and robust RMHC New Zealand truly is. As New Zealand went into Alert Level 4 lockdown, we moved to contactless operations in a matter of hours. We redeployed frontline staff to create a new food service team, providing food for 274 families.

Our contactless food service was carefully constructed to ensure the safety of families. The 58 families staying in House programmes received a hotel-style food delivery service to their door, up to three times a day. The 216 families staying offsite in Alert Level 4 were provided with care packages to make three meals a day in their self-serviced apartments. We also completed daily welfare calls to check the mental wellbeing of our families.

No new families entered Ronald McDonald House® New Zealand programmes during the Alert Level 3 and 4 lockdowns. This meant that throughout 2020, we hosted a total of 4,052 nights offsite compared to 1,042 in 2019.

Families and staff showed their courage. They embraced change during uncertain times, overcoming every obstacle to ensure the safety of the families staying with us. RMHC New Zealand in 2020 saw many outstanding stories of dedication and collaboration – such as Anne Kirkpatrick, our General Manager of Operations, driving to local McDonald’s outlets out of hours, collecting trays that had kindly been donated for our new contactless food delivery service.

The necessary changes in operations and the increase in offsite accommodation has had a major financial impact. However, the driving force of our mission never wavered: keeping families close when they need it most.   

In the 30 years since New Zealand’s first Ronald McDonald House opened its welcoming doors, there has never been a challenge like 2020. I am extremely proud of our people’s response to the year’s upheavals, never wavering from our mission of supporting families with a child in hospital away from home.

Levels, lockdown, contactless care, and social distancing brought major disruptions to our operations, costs, and fundraising. I am humbled and grateful for the efforts of staff, volunteers, supporters, and partners, so families could focus on their children’s treatment, never distracted by concerns and costs such as accommodation and meals. 3,697 families stayed with us in 2020, saving them over $7 million* in accommodation costs alone.

This support and wrap-around care would not have been without the dedication and generosity of our extensive whānau of supporters and volunteers. They have my heartfelt thanks. I am also very grateful to my fellow trustees, for courage and careful governance through a most challenging year. Retiring trustee Sandy Moore contributed significantly and I am pleased to welcome new trustee Scott Brown. As trustees, we take great heart in an organisation and team that showed their true colours and character, responding to 2020’s challenges with great agility. Our thanks go to CEO Wayne Howett and all the team of RMHC New Zealand. One achievement sums up their outstanding commitment to mission: despite everything 2020 threw at us, no eligible family was turned away.

*This is based on the amount that it would cost a family if they couldn’t stay at RMHC New Zealand which includes food, accommodation, parking, and laundry costs. This has been calculated as $260 per night per family.

When the lockdown was announced, how long did it take our people to transition to completely contactless service? Half a day.

A quarter of our staff had to stand down because of COVID-19 age guidelines. Selfless volunteers covered their shifts, leaving the safety of their bubbles to give families a home-away-from-home while their children were in the hospital.

Social distancing required us to house many families offsite at no cost to them, but far beyond our budget. Supporters responded with stunning generosity – exceeding appeal targets again and again. Businesses facing their own uncertainty did not hesitate to help us support families. When 170 McDonald’s restaurants had to suddenly close, the food they donated helped to feed hundreds of families.

In the face of a global pandemic, the RMHC New Zealand community of heroes – staff, volunteers, supporters, partners, and trustees – were tireless, compassionate, agile, efficient, and generous. In other words, it was business-as-usual. Our community understands the need for a bridge between families and healthcare. That is why New Zealand families could spend 28,441 nights at a Ronald McDonald House last year, or take a break in hospital at a Ronald McDonald Family Room, or a family holiday at our retreat in Rotorua, or visit our mobile dental clinics.

I am so proud and grateful for what we can do for families, on an ordinary day or in an extraordinary year. Our mission always comes first. Thank you for supporting us in that, in 2020, and in the years to come.

Family stories, from a year like no other

Ella and the

Capil/Dixon Family

There is a scale for rating pain called the McGill Index. Right at the very top is an agonising condition Ella Dixon from Southland is still working through in her life.* It started with a small rugby injury that got re-tweaked. It was quite minor, but in very rare cases the human nervous system over-reacts to a small injury, as if it was massive trauma.

Parker and the Shefford/Walsh Family

Alana Shefford was 20 weeks pregnant with Parker when she learned he had an unusually narrow aorta, his heart’s main artery – but that was all the information they could give her. So, when Parker was born, they didn’t know how things would go.

Our Impact

Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald Family Room programmes take care of the practical things in life so families can focus on their child staying in hospital away from home. This year our impact has been even greater given the challenges faced in 2020.

Note: Numbers identified are for Ronald McDonald House programmes in Auckland and Wellington only. This excludes Ronald McDonald House South Island.
*These families include both offsite and onsite accommodation. Onsite families were provided 3 meals a day direct to their door, offsite were delivered contactless care packages that covered 3 meals a day for families to make in their self-serviced accommodation. This is based on an average of 2 people staying with us per family.

The number of offsite accommodation nights increased during each lockdown as a result of safety precautions to keep families safe.

First lockdown
  • March 25th lockdown begins (Alert Level 4)
  • April 28th Alert Level moves to level 3
  • May 14th Alert level moves to level 2
  • June 8th Alert Level moves to level 1

Second lockdown
  • August 12th second lockdown begins (Alert Level 3)
  • August 30th Alert Level moves to restricted Alert Level 3
  • September 23rd Alert Level moves to Level 2

Reason for Stay

Family Ethnicities

Numbers identified are for Ronald McDonald House programmes in Auckland and Wellington only. This excludes Ronald McDonald House South Island.

Premier Partners

A huge thank you to all our premier partners that have been by our side during 2020, keeping families close™.

McDonald’s® Restaurants

(New Zealand) Ltd

McDonald’s is our Founding Mission Partner and all of us at RMHC New Zealand wish to express our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for all of the support that helped families so significantly in 2020.

McDonald’s franchisees, their staff, and customers collectively raise over $1.5 million for RMHC New Zealand each year. Their extraordinary financial support is one vital part of this proud partnership, but from in-store campaigns to volunteering, the incredible people of the McDonald’s community cement our partnership in countless ways.

Photo caption below:  The crew at McDonald’s Mount Maunganui sharing the love. 

McDonald’s Campaigns

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Fundraising Initiatives

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Ronald McDonald Family Retreat Rotorua

This year, 49 families had the opportunity to stay at the Ronald McDonald Family Retreat in Rotorua. Our two Family Retreat houses provide one week of free holiday accommodation for families who have experienced the impact of a chronic/long term illness or bereavement in their family.

Franchisees Rob and Linley Parry and their Rotorua crew volunteer their time to oversee the day-to-day operation of the Family Retreat, alongside their supportive committee and local supporter network.

Ray White

Ray White New Zealand has been a Premier Partner and a key supporter for 13 years, providing significant annual donations, as well as local community support through volunteering and fundraising.

Carey Smith, CEO of Ray White New Zealand, says he is “extremely proud of the support Ray White continues to show RMHC New Zealand… and will remain proud supporters of the most valuable houses in New Zealand.”

“Thank you Ray White New Zealand for your support. Our partnership has gone from strength to strength, which helps to support families with a ‘home-away-from-home’ when it is most needed – a nice synergy between both organisations.” – Wayne Howett, Chief Executive of RMHC New Zealand.

Photo caption below: Ray White Eden Terrace

Fundraising Initiatives

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Ray White Family Dinner Challenge

The Ray White Family Dinner Challenge – where Ray White Offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch cook dinner for families and enhance the experience by theming the evening, decorating tables, and organising entertainment which is then judged by House Families with one winning office per region – unfortunately had to be cut short due to lockdown restrictions. Thanks to all the registered offices for their planning, and those who were able to take part: Ray White Takapuna, Ray White Epsom and Ray White Eden Terrace in Auckland, Ray White Kilbirnie, and Ray White Khandallah in Wellington and Ray White Bishopdale & Strowan, Ray White Metro, Ray White New Brighton and Ray White McPherson Property Management in Christchurch.

Photo caption: Ray White Takapuna

1-day Partnership

1-day supports us in multiple ways…

…through customer giving, digital support on their website, donation of prizes and products and their epic annual Golf Day! They also nominated us as charity of choice for the 1-day Junior Tough Guy and Gal Challenge. Even though their festive party at the House had to be cancelled for 2020, we know they’ll be back in 2021! Thank you 1-day, for all that you do!

La-Z-Boy Partnership

La-Z-Boy is the official furniture provider for RMHC globally, providing a comfortable ‘home-away-from-home’ for families with a child in hospital.

Thank you, La-Z-Boy for the ultra-comfy sofas, chairs, and recliners that are so loved by families who stay with us.

Sealy Partnership

Families who stay with RMHC New Zealand regularly tell us how comfortable the beds are at the Houses and we all know how important a good night’s sleep is.

It’s no surprise when Sealy generously provides top-quality beds for all programmes nationwide. Thank you Sealy!

Asaleo Care
Bobux International
Clearlite Bathrooms
Community Trust of Mid & South Canterbury
Coverstaff Recruitment
David Levene Foundation
Dreamchaser Foundation
Ecolab New Zealand
Ernst & Young Auckland 
Event Promotions
Findex Community Fund

Foundation North 
Joyce Fisher Charitable Trust
Kathleen Dorothy Kirkby Charitable Trust
Lions Club of Silverstream
Mark Drake and Meredith Kingston
Martin Brower
New World Thorndon
New Zealand Community Trust 
NZ Lottery Grants Board 
NZME Head Office
Paramount Services
Pub Charity Limited 

Rodmor Charitable Trust 
Suntory Coffee New Zealand Limited
SWP Commercial
The Lion Foundation
The Southern Trust
Trustpower Limited
The Zurich Foundation
Otago Community Trust
Four Winds Foundation
Auckland City Toyota 
Jack Jeff’s Charitable Trust
Inspire Net
Joan Mayes
Helen Blake
Tax Management NZ
Zespri International
Fuse Creative
Track NZ
DDB New Zealand
Kindercare Learning Centres
The Estate of George Dear
The Estate of Hilda Mary Fallon
nib Foundation


All the above-listed partners and supporters donated over $10k.

Our 2020 Campaigns

Emergency Appeal

COVID-19 Alert Level restrictions demanded immediate and major operational changes, increasing our costs dramatically overnight. Thanks to the generous outpouring of aroha and support from people all across Aotearoa, our Crisis Appeal campaign raised over $280,000. This ensured we could keep families safe in their bubbles and stay true to our promise to never turn an eligible family away.

House to House

House to House 2020 challenged supporters to walk, run, bike, or swim 210km in March while raising $210 – with a total goal of $210,000. 1,812 people took up the challenge and registered as individuals, teams, and workplaces. Despite the campaign being disrupted by COVID-19 in its last two weeks, our phenomenal army of supporters and their friends raised a huge $340,128.

Christmas Campaign

In 2019, Jack the elf discovered that the Gift of Time together with those you love was the greatest gift of all. In 2020, Jack was on a Christmas mission to give this gift to families with a child in hospital away from home.

Thanks to our generous community of supporters who helped Jack on his journey – and our new friends at Zespri who matched all donations up to $100,000 from their COVID-19 Relief Fund – our 2020 Christmas Campaign raised over $380,000! Thank you so much!


Throughout 2020’s roller coaster ride of lockdowns, bubbles, and social distancing, our volunteers were unwavering in their commitment to support our families. Through thick and thin they turned up, gloved up, and stepped up. We so appreciate their hard mahi and we could not be more proud of them.

Thank you to all of our special volunteers. Your support has been priceless!

Our Social Impact

Today, more than ever, it is essential to understand the impact our services provide to the families of Aotearoa who use our facilities. It’s more than just about how many families stay with us, but the contribution our mahi has on New Zealand society.  In 2020 we partnered with New Zealand-based ImpactLab to quantify our social value to articulate exactly how much we help change lives for the better. The GoodMeasure report enables us to show that every year RMHC New Zealand delivers over 46 million dollars of ‘measurable good’ to New Zealand society. This social value is recognised through mental and physical health, jobs and earnings, income and consumption, and housing.

Social Value Breakdown

RMHC New Zealand creates social value across different aspects of people’s lives. This chart shows the breakdown of social value created according to the NZ Treasury Living Standards Framework. Each domain highlights a different aspect of wellbeing, showing the positive impact we have on families that stays with us, with Health being the highest (80%).

For every dollar invested in RMHC New Zealand, there is a Social Return On Investment (SROI) of NZD $4.80, or $4.80 of measurable good to New Zealanders.

Social Value Definition

Social value generated for each successful participant

Measurable benefits as proportion of program cost

Cost of the programme per participant

Financial Summary 2020

Due to the circumstances of 2020 RMHC New Zealand has seen a significant increase in operational costs. The demand to house more families in offsite accommodation and provide contactless food delivery services during lockdown is reflected in our financials.

Note: The above financials are pre-audited. Please visit the Charities Commision website to view our 2019 financials. Audit will be completed and uploaded here by the 15th of July. 

Our Trustees

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Highlights 2020

Support Us

There are so many ways to make a difference to families with a child in hospital. If you want to know how you can support families please get in touch with us at [email protected] 

Every contribution counts, if you would like to donate, please visit or call us on 093658315.

Ella & The Dixon Family

There is a scale for rating pain called the McGill Index. Right at the very top is an agonising condition Ella Dixon from Southland is still working through in her life.* It started with a small rugby injury that got re-tweaked. It was quite minor, but in very rare cases the human nervous system over-reacts to a small injury, as if it was massive trauma.

“Her foot and lower leg quickly changed colour and became cold. Incredibly painful,” explains Ella’s Mum, Megan. This is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS. This brave 15-year-old is courageously trying to beat it and manage its unbelievable levels of pain and the breakdown of important bodily functions.

Ella’s pain was so intense, her local hospital could not manage her suffering. So Ella was transferred to the care of the Pain team at the National Children’s Hospital in Auckland.

“We would have travelled anywhere,” Ella’s Mum said, but they had no family support at all in Auckland. What they did have, though, was the ‘home-away-from-home’ at Ronald McDonald House.

“How amazing that place is,” Megan says. “We wheeled our bags over from hospital – because it’s such a short walk. Those amazing women, they are just incredible.”

Megan and Steve would have been happy to sleep in a room near the hospital. Instead, she was overwhelmed by her lovely, comfortable haven so close to her daughter in hospital. She was also blown away by the other facilities provided for families – “Those kitchens!” – and the teams of volunteers from businesses and organisations coming in to cook. “I just constantly said, oh my gosh, this is amazing!

Ella was hoping to be out of hospital by Easter, but that was not possible. To cheer her up, the Ronald McDonald House team left some treats at Megan and Steve’s door to take to Ella – “the biggest bag of Easter eggs I’ve ever seen! Unbelievable!”

“I took it over to Ella. She loved handing them out. She said, ‘Happy Easter from Ronald McDonald House’ and gave them an Easter bunny.” Ella made the coolest Thank You video, saying ‘Oh my gosh, Ronald McDonald House, you have made my Easter.’

Then, when it was her birthday, Volunteer Fran made Ella a beautiful birthday cake.  Fran and the other volunteers and staff who were there during lockdown have done so much for this young girl who has suffered such intense pain.

If her parents had been staying in a motel room, Ella could never have left hospital to visit with them. The wheelchair, the taxi, the trip, the barren motel room – it would all have been too much. Instead, she was able to leave the hospital and spend time at Ronald McDonald House. “She got to know and love that place – and the staff,” says her Mum.

CRPS is a chronic condition, but it does respond, as it slowly has for Ella. ‘We never in our wildest dreams thought we would need to stay at Ronald McDonald House for three months!” Very few families could afford such a long stay in a motel while their child was in hospital – but “it’s amazing how Ronald McDonald House made it all possible,” says Megan.

CRPS may be the highest pain on the McGill index, but being in hospital far from her parents would have been unimaginable. The Dixon family was able to put the worst pain of all far behind them and would like to thank Ronald McDonald House for keeping their family close.

*It reaches approx 42 out of 50 on the McGill Pain Scale, higher than non-terminal cancer, higher than amputation of a finger without anaesthesia.