Mike Barns is the Ministry of Health's Programme Director for the New Dunedin Hospital Project.


How did you get into this line of work?

I’m an architect, it’s in my blood and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve done some exciting things over the years including teaching architecture at Auckland University. I was a visiting Professor at Massey and was chair of the University of Hawaii. I have a huge passion for sustainability and environmental stewardship. I got my first big break designing embassy buildings for the Australian Government in the Pacific, then universities in Hawaii, and healthcare projects in NZ after that.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

They say surround yourself with people smarter than you are – that’s the mantra I work with. The team I lead is just that – they’ve all delivered massive projects here and around the world and are extremely talented. The region can be proud of the team we’ve assembled to get this new hospital designed and built.  

What are some of the big projects you’ve done in your career?

I returned to New Zealand for this project 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 the new Dunedin hospital project.  

What do you enjoy about working on the New Dunedin Hospital project?

I love that not only does the region get a new, well designed, modern hospital, the economy gets a massive boost as a result of the build (estimated to add $429m GDP) which is good for everyone.  

What’s your advice for people wanting to get into the industry?

The new hospital build is going to employ thousands of construction workers over the lifetime of the project, with just under 1,000 full time equivalent jobs. This could be you! Talk to the team at Workforce Central Dunedin who will be providing the skills and labour needed to help complete the new Dunedin Hospital build.