It was great to have our new programme director for the New Dunedin Hospital, Mike Barns, join the team in March 2020. Mike was previously based at Waitemata DHB in Auckland.

What attracted you to the role and living in Dunedin?
Other than the challenge of delivering a large and complex project in New Zealand, I’m also interested in the environmental diversity New Zealand holds and the unique southern part of our country. Dunedin has long been known as the wildlife capital of New Zealand.

Dunedin, Otago and Southland has a great range of people, who are important to the diversity of our national cultural identity. I feel very fortunate to be here.

What experience do you bring which will help you in this role?
I’ve recently returned to New Zealand after 10 years as a programme director, project manager and architect in the Middle East, helping to deliver large healthcare projects.

Along with other Kiwis, these projects exposed us to the complexities and difficulties of successfully delivering large hospital projects within short periods of time, many being three or four times larger than this project.

I’m able to bring that experience back to help with hospital projects needed in New Zealand.

What does your job entail?
I’m fortunate to oversee a group of very dedicated professionals from the Ministry and many of New Zealand’s top tier design consultants to bring this project together. We also work closely with other stakeholders to bring forward the NDH.

It’s a very worthwhile project and will contribute to the economy and communities of Otago and Southland. We’re also exploring many of the other attributes that could develop as a result from the project, such as specialist healthcare design and construction degrees at Otago Polytechnic and the University of Otago.

What are your first impressions?
The NDH project is a great project - it has its complexities, but no more than any other large hospital project. It’s well-stocked with committed and dedicated people, all wanting the best for the city and the region.

I’m told there now appears to be greater stability in the project, and the team are becoming more of a cohesive unit, supporting each other to provide a unique and profound hospital for not only Dunedin but also for New Zealand and Australasia.

My vision is to provide a facility that is globally important and meets the highest international standards, for and on behalf of the people of New Zealand.

How do you spend your time when you’re not in the office?
I enjoy walking around the bays on the Otago Peninsula, the wildlife is pretty spectacular. As we come out of COVID-19, I’d like to start exploring the southern fiords of the West Coast.