Fulfilling the wishes of Palliative Care Patients


Vivienne James



A teacher and deputy principal for some years, mother of three adult children and married to a land surveyor, Viv, worked for 8 years in the Palliative Care area with Mercy Hospice Auckland (MHA).  Her role there was to establish what was called the Opening Doors Programme, which plays a significant part in improving the quality of life of people living with life limiting illness. The programme introduced people to new ideas, new people and new concepts.The objective of the programme was based on the belief of “living every moment”. Viv insists that a major ingredient of the whole exercise is the recognition of FUN!

It was a privilege to see how the programme established an atmosphere of relaxation and connection for people who otherwise would often be socially isolated.

The Wish-List Service, whereby patients expressed some of their innermost desires, with a chance of seeing them fulfilled, was a natural development from all the fore-goings.

Viv’s persistence that the primary purpose in all this, was to LISTEN TO THE PATIENT, treating them with respect,for their integrity,while showing understanding, has been a driving force throughout.

February 2015 saw a totally unexpected development when Viv was given a diagnosis of Melanoma.  This brought her even closer to those for whom she had been striving. Her passion for seeing that this work continues, has led to the development of the Race4LifeTrust. 

Her whole heart is set on this project, knowing that it can make such an amazing difference in peoples’ lives.

 Daniel Williams

B.Surv.MNZIS. RP Surv.



Daniel has been a Director of Woods, since 1996 and has over 24 years’ professional experience as a surveyor. He has been involved in a broad range of projects including master planned communities, large infrastructure builds and commercial developments throughout New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. He has a proven track record of delivering projects of varying complexity and is often sought to fulfill the role of project leader.

As a specialist in ‘developer driven’ residential projects and high profile infrastructure builds, Daniel provides front end feasibility studies,planning advice and design investigations to a number of clients within the public and private sectors. He is adept at providing technical advice to a variety of stakeholders and is experienced at providing commercial expertise,compliance,risk analysis and project management services, to a diverse range of clients,both locally and abroad.

During Daniel’s period at Woods, the firm has experienced a large amount of growth and currently numbers 100 staff. Woods have always been a strong supporter of the Race for Life event and through this, Daniel has embraced the vision and values that the Trust stands for. He believes that the Race for Life Trust is a charity that has benefits for everyone that it touches, through its activities.

Other governance roles that Daniel has,include being on the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors Governance Board, as well as deputy chairperson of his Son’s Air Training Cadet Squadron. Outside of work Daniel is married with two teenage children that occupy most of his free time. He enjoys spending time with them being involved in their many activities. Any free time after that is spent catching up with friends over a good pinot.

   Mark Cole  

NZCE Civil. Cert. Survey Tech.




Mark is an experienced businessman and is currently Chief Executive and Director   at Hick Bros Civil Construction Limited.Under his guidance, Hick Bros has grown from a thriving business to a  significant, and sought after head or partner contractor in major projects across New Zealand.

Outside of business Mark is a keen sailor, racing car driver, a strong supporter of his two sons rowing interests and has recently taken an interest in horse riding.  

Mark has personal experiences of supporting people with life limiting conditions and so when the idea of a race day event for people in palliative care was put to him, he was fully committed from the outset.  

Mark brings his business nous and governance experience to the Board table along with his enthusiasm for Race for Life Trusts mission and purpose. He is fully committed to ensuring the eternal success of Race4LifeTrust.

   Janine Ewan




As a Registered Nurse, from early on Janine found a real niche working in the community. This love eventually led her to work in Community Palliative Care for St Joseph’s Mercy Hospice in 1994 now Mercy Hospice Auckland). Janine found being alongside patients and families faced with life threatening illness both humbling and rewarding and which taught her so much. 

Janine believes that when people are faced with their own mortality the layers are peeled away to the very essence of what makes people human. The uncertainty of life is revealed,vulnerability and courage see-saw in the search for meaning and hope. Living ‘in the moment’ becomes more real and there is a deeper appreciation for what ‘matters’.

In 2001, Janine became involved with Eastern Bays Hospice,then a fledgling organisation in Glendowie. Over the past 15 years, she has had great satisfaction in the leadership and evolution of the Clinical Service, now known as Dove House and Dove Wing (both day and 24 hour care programmes) which  serve over 500 people in the community at any time.

Janine first met Viv James when she volunteered at Dove House many years ago and since then they have had a long collegial friendship. Janine has no doubt that the success of the Race for Life event which has been running for 8 consecutive years now, is due to Viv’s enthusiasm, zest for life and ‘arm bending’ skills to gather support and sponsorship. Hearing first hand from patients and families how much this event means to them, the opportunity to step outside of illness even briefly, experience the thrill of challenge, the excitement of doing something fun with family and friends,the opportunity to regain some normality and experience hope is all good healing stuff! 

Janine brings to the Trust her leadership and development, management, community relationships and fundraising experiences.   

Janine has a collaborative and inclusive attitude and a joy of working with like-minded people so is looking forward to this opportunity to assist in the Trust’s further progress.

   Robert Hitchin


After thirty nine years with Qantas Airways Robert finally hung up his wings in 2013 and he has been very happily grounded ever since. 

Robert had an interesting and exciting career with the airline especially in the early years and would do it all over again without hesitation, though being able to now commit to regular pursuits without jet lag,nor reference to a roster, makes retirement a very appealing destination. 

When his wife Lindy,was diagnosed with a terminal illness in 2002, it was her  greatest wish to pack as much living and life into her remaining days as possible.  With the help,unbelievable generosity and a tidal wave of love from friends, family and Auckland’s Mercy Hospice, her wish was granted and with it a legacy of treasured memories of that special time with Lindy,remains with Robert and their three children to this day.

It was through Mercy Hospice Auckland and his profound gratitude to that organisation, that Robert became involved with “Opening Doors” and met the inspirational and dynamic driving force behind the life changing programme,  Viv James.

In establishing the “Race4LifeTrust”, Viv is realising a long held vision. Born of compassion and an immense love for life and driven by her passionate desire to greatly enhance the lives of palliative care patients and those who love them, Robert is thrilled to have been afforded the opportunity by Viv to contribute to her endeavour.