Clown Doctors New Zealand

We bring JOY & LAUGHTER to the children in hospitals, LIFT the SPIRITS of people in need and contribute to making our society more HEARTFELT & HUMOROUS  

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2014 November 2nd

November 2nd was the Auckland Half Marathon. Our very own Clown Doctor Funny Bone, aka Aaron Ward, ran to raise money for the Starship Foundation, which supports the Clown Doctors and their work at Starship Hospital. Clown Doctors In-Da-Hoos and U Who were waiting for Aaron at the finish line, but Aaron ran so quickly that they missed him! 

We are all really proud of Aaron and grateful for the support that he has provided for Starship and Clown Doctors.

Drs U Who and In-Da-Hoos waiting at the finish lineDr. Funny Bone 


2014 November 1st

Prof. Thomas Petschner, the founder and CEO of Clown Doctors New Zealand, was one of the speakers at TEDx Christchurch. It was a great opportunity to explore, dream, and discover. We had a great time and connected with so many inspiring people.

Thomas’s presentation highlighted the emotional side of being a clown doctor and the comprehensive academic education behind medical clowning. We were also able to highlight that since starting in September 2009, we have touched the lives of more than 80,000 patients, their families and staff in hospitals in New Zealand.


2014 September 7th    Humour Workshops

Our 5th birthday celebrations continued in Christchurch with two humour workshops co-sponsored by All Right. Our artistic director, Zack McCracken, flew down from Auckland to teach the participants some of the practical skills we teach our Clown Doctors in their ongoing training. We had a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon where all the participants could enjoy the outdoors when not learning to de-stress and incorporate humour into their daily lives.

Workshop participants


2014 September 1st    Fifth Birthday Celebration

On September 1st we reached a major milestone: five years of Clown Doctors visiting hospitals in New Zealand. We celebrated in all of our centres with cake for Clown Doctors and staff. What a wonderful opportunity to look back on all that we have accomplished, bringing smiles and laughter to children in hospital in Christchurch, Auckland, and Wellington.

Clown Doctors in Wellington celebrate with a birthday cake.

2014 April 7th     New Zealand Smile Day 2014

New Zealand Smile Day, held annually on April 7th is the culmination of our awareness building und fundraising efforts. It’s celebrated at the same time as World Health Day to highlight the connections between humour and health. In addition to visiting the hospitals on our regular rounds; Starship, Wellington, Christchurch, and Princess Margaret, we also did the rounds of the Wilson Home, Te Omanga Hospice, Hutt, and Burwood hospitals. We loved the opportunity to make New Zealand a happier place by assisting children in hospitals who may never have met Clown Doctors before. Our aim on this most recent Smile Day was to give those people who hadn’t yet experienced  Clown Doctors a chance for an encounter and to bring what we do in hospital out into the community.  From what we have heard, everyone loved having us. After a great day with lots of publicity, the next step is to work on fundraising in those areas that don’t yet have Clown Doctors, so we can improve the lives of more children across New Zealand.


Cameron Taylor and Thomas Petschner (aka Dr. Exami Nation) are ready for Smile Day in Christchurch.


2014 April 1st                    Humour Quiz at SKYCITY, Auckland

A quiz all about anything and everything to do with humour? Held on April Fool’s Day? Well it had to be funny and it was. We had a fantastic night at SKYCITY where all of the teams laughed and learned as they answered questions and raised money for Clown Doctors. The Silent Auction had plenty of fantastic items, including some from Gin Wigmore, Karen Walker, Otis Frizzell / Mike Weston and many more individuals and organisations who supported us with wonderful auction items . All of us at Clown Doctors New Zealand would like to thank our generous sponsors and everyone who donated items for our big night. Given its success, it may even become and annual event on the Clown Doctors social calendar, so watch this space.





2014 March 29th - 30th      Annual Traing at Waiheke Island   


2013 August 17th - 18th   Workshop with Giovanni Fusetti

Giovanni has been student, pedagogic assistant and teacher at the  Ecole International de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, before being co-founder of Kìklos Teatro in Padua, Italy. He enters a pedagogic and artistic search that has been happening over the last 20 years.  Here he has been pedagogical director of the Scuola Internazionale di Creazione Teatrale KIKLOS, where he has taught Improvisation, Movement Analysis and Technique, and Theatre Creation.



Photo: Antony Kitchener  


2013 May 31st – June 2nd     New Zealand Smile Days

These three 'Smile Days' were the culmination of our awareness building und fundraising efforts, so we can further assist sick children in hospitals, and also make New Zealand a happier place.


2013 May 3rd      Clearwater Golf Club, Charity Classic 


2013 January 21st     Our Ambassador becomes a father!

Sam and Felicity Wills became parents to Rafferty Basil Danger Wills, with Boy Jr.'s birth coinciding with the 20th Annual World Buskers Festival. Congratulations to both spectacular performers, and we cannot wait to meet the boy with 'Danger' as his middle name! 

The Press 24/01/2013


2012 September 16 Silent Celebrity 

Canterbury performer Sam Wills won global acclaim for his show "The Boy with Tape on his Face", and we are proud to have him on board as an ambassador. Sam has performed at Albert Hall to an audience of 5,000, toured the UK, and received many awards for his comedic acts, including "People's Choice" at the 2008 World Buskers Festival. If you were not lucky enough to see his hilarious show live, visit his website for upcoming tour dates or see his YouTube for a taste of his intelligent silliness. We really love this outstanding comedian and hope you do too. Thanks for your support, Sam!


2012 August 15th  Finalists for the Champion Canterbury Business Awards

The Champion Canterbury Business Awards celebrate success and recognize social responsibility, innovation, sustainability and excellence of small, medium and large enterprises who contribute to the vitality of the region.

The winner was announced at the Awards Ceremony on 27th September, where 1200 business people were in attendance at the largest business awards ceremony in New Zealand. Unfortunately we did not win the prize, but we had a great experience making contacts and friends.

For the full finalists/winners list and more information please visit


2010 August 3rd First official visit at Starship Hospital

August 2010 marked the first official visit to Starship Hospital, and the branching out of our operations to the rest of New Zealand. Starship Hospital does such amazing work with sick children, and we are very proud to be a part of the healing process here. 



2010 May Clown Doctors first trial visits at Starship Hospital

The Clown Doctors underwent trial visits at Auckland's Starship Hospital, aiming to expand their New Zealand reach. Starship is a family-centred paediatric healthcare service catering to New Zealand and the South Pacific, and shares our goal of making hospital stays for children as stress-free as possible. 


Photo: Patrick Bellett, Auckland   


2010 August 18 Clown Doctors visited 10,000 patients

Clown Doctors NZ reached the milestone of 10,000 patients, all visited at Christchurch Public Hospital.   


Photo:Kurt Langer, Christchurch 


2010 March Training in Auckland

We held a training workshop in Auckland for our clowns, giving them some new tricks to hide up their sleeves and furthering their professional development.


2010 February Red Nose Day Development

The members of PPR Agency discussed with Monica Culen (co-founder and managing director of Red Noses International) the re-activation of Red Nose Day after many years of ‘dormancy’.  Monica worked with PPR Australia in the past and was very excited that PPR Auckland was going to support the Clown Doctors and help them to implement this ‘trade mark’ of clowns & fun in New Zealand.

She pointed out, that the Red Nose Group has used  “the smallest mask” very successfully in 7 European countries for many years. Monica and Thomas happily passed on event ideas to the PPR staff, motivated by their comments of a long-term partnership.


2010 February Red Noses International Team in New Zealand 

Monica Culen, the Co-founder and Managing Director of Red Noses International, along with Co-founder and Artistic Director Giora Seeliger, visited New Zealand to see the progress being made and the smiles being produced. 


2009 November Governors Bay community garage sale trail

The Governors Bay community held a garage sale trail for us, with customers walking from house to house and snapping up bargains, with the proceeds going to us. Thank you, Governors Bay!


2009 September Founding Sponsor visits Christchurch Public Hospital

Kevin Eder, from our Founding Sponsor Tradestaff, visited Christchurch Public Hospital with our clowns to see first-hand the work the Clown Doctors do.

Clown Doctors with Kevin Eder

Photo:Ron James 


2009 September 1st First Clown Doctors Visit

On 1st September 2009 the new programme took off with flying colours in the Paediatric and Children's Oncology departments of the Christchurch Hospital and the Older Persons departments in the Princess Margaret Hospital.


2009 August First Training with RNI in Christchurch

For three weeks Giora Seeliger (Artistic Director of RED NOSES and Director of the International School of Humour) and Gary Edwards (Founder and Director of RED NOSES in the Czech Republic and Slovakia) held auditions and trained the new team of eight clowns. They were the first to bring the art of therapeutic hospital clowning to New Zealand! "With Giora and Gary, we have highly experienced teachers who are very capable of establishing a professional clown team on the other side of the world," Monica Culen said very proudly.


2009 July 27th 2009. Trust registered by Charities Commission

In the course of the last few months Thomas Petschner and Rita Noetzel, supported by David Halstead found a few very committed people who were keen to step in as a trustees to support the start of a new charitable Trust and became an Associated Partner of the RNI group.


2009 February  Red Noses International visits New Zealand for the first time

Natalie Porias, an RNI Project Manager, visited Christchurch to meet up with the first team and board members. Together they worked intensely on the start-up phase, and on spreading the spirit of hospital clowning in New Zealand.


2007   Development of Clown Doctors in New Zealand

Professor Thomas Petschner, a German health scientist living in Christchurch, began preparations in January 2007 to reach out to Red Noses International Headquarters in Vienna. His vast experience as a diagnostician, research in human behaviour, and research in humour in medicine convinced him of the importance of RNI's mission. His mission was then to implement a professional hospital clown programme in New Zealand, and in October reached out to RNI for their assistance. 


1998 ' Patch Adams' released

The Movie 'Patch Adams' was based on the true story of Dr. Hunter "Patch" Adams and his quest to heal using humour. 'Patch Adams' was nominated for two Golden Globe awards, and used Hollywood to inform a wide audience about the practice of clowning and humour in hospitals. 


1990  CliniClowns established in Europe

 The first professional organisation in Europe CliniClowns was co-founded by Monica Culen & Giora Seeliger (our associated partners) in Vienna, Austria.


1986  Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit established

Michael Christensen created the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit in New York. The programme set out to train professional clowns in the hospital procedures, and prepare them to visit hospitals to assist in healing through humour. The Clown Doctors used circus skills, tricks, improvisation and did their "rounds" as Clown Doctors to bring smiles and laughter to the patients. 


History of clowning in Hospitals

The Ancient Greeks also believed that mood affected the way a patient healed, and Hippocrates' hospital on Kos Island was staffed with players and clowns to entertain patients.

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