Hospital Chaplaincy


The Interchurch Council for Hospital Chaplaincy  (ICHC) (Registered Charity Number CC21346) has, since a decision of the NZ Government (Cabinet decision CM 72/9/14 of 6 March 1972), been the national provider of hospital chaplaincy services in New Zealand  under a shared funding arrangement between the Government's Health Department / Ministry and the Churches. The Government wished to deal with only one body on behalf of the Churches. As a result the Interchurch Council for Hospital Chaplaincy, Aotearoa, New Zealand, Charitable Trust  Inc. is the national chaplaincy body of nine Churches involved in the provision of a professional healthcare chaplaincy service.

The nine churches are:  Anglican, ACTS Churches New Zealand, Baptist, Catholic, Christian Churches New Zealand, Congregational, Methodist, Presbyterian and Salvation Army. Chaplains are sometimes appointed from other Christian denominations as it is policy to appoint the best applicant to a position.


The ICHC Trust Board is made up of representatives of each of the Partner Churches, along with Additional Trustees who bring specific skills and perspectives to the Board.


The Place of Spiritual Care

Spiritual well-being is a fundamental right under the UN Declaration of Human Rights. This has been recognised under the Health and Disabilities (Safety) Act 2001 under which New Zealand healthcare standards for the accreditation of hospitals are set.  These provide for patients to have access to the spiritual care of their choice and have their cultural and spiritual beliefs and practices upheld, in particular those regarding death and dying. These standards became mandatory from 1 October 2004.

The presence of ecumenical and Catholic hospital chaplains (and chaplaincy assistants under supervision of a chaplain) enables this standard for hospital accreditation to be met.

Access to chaplaincy services and exit from the service is by way of:

         self referral eg. indicated on admission forms;

         requests to nurse or chaplaincy staff;

         referral by immediate family or extended whanau;

         referral by hospital staff;

         referral by other health workers including DSS workers, GPs etc;

         referral by marae and church based organisations;

         referral by Iwi health providers and other Maori providers;

         referral by community groups, organisations and related services;

         referral by government agencies e.g. Social, Justice, Education.

The chaplain also has an important role in the spiritual support of Hospital staff and their family (NZ Health Standards  2.4  & 6.3.8) for those who wish to avail themselves of it.

The Hospital Chaplain is an important member of the multi-disciplinary care team and the spiritual support offered is an important contribution to the holistic model of care New Zealand's Health Services are seeking to provide. 

Under no circumstances will a chaplain or chaplaincy assistant attempt to provide services to any person who indicates they do not wish to receive such service, or who indicates they have a preference for spiritual care or ministry to be provided by some other person or organisation. Chaplains will, on request, assist in locating a patient's own spiritual adviser or any member of their faith they wish to see.

Accountability and Complaints about Chaplaincy Services

Complaints or Incident Reports lodged by individuals or with Hospitals, about chaplains or the chaplaincy service are referred to the National Manager, ICHC for investigation.


The Chaplain's Role

ICHC and the Ministry of Health have agreed that the chaplain's role is to address the spiritual, emotional and pastoral needs of patients, particularly where their illness has presented a major threat or trauma (spiritually and emotionally) and which may render patients and/or their whanau/family vulnerable.


Have you ever wondered:

What sorts of conversations do chaplains have with people?

Do Chaplains give advice?

Are there common misconceptions about what Chaplains do?

The Chaplains at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in the US have an interesting article on their website where these questions are answered along with how they use their Chapel to cater for all, how they begin to provide care for themselves. 


The ICHC Logo



Oval Shape: is a universal oval representing new life / life encompassing all things eternal

Blue water: sustaining  life, giving, washing, cleansing

Two Koru: represent people of different cultures.
Two koru also represent balance and wholeness, and nurture of each other

White Cross: Christian symbol always associated with care for people, Godís people.

Life line - heartbeat: in the centre to show the service is provided to support and sustain people. We are whole people - holistic health and wellbeing, vibrant and life giving.

Green: the colour of nature supporting life and sustained by the water
and found in the cross Ė the God symbol, of universal Christ.