A group of Mount Maunganui pensioners have used their spare time to knit and donate dozens of woollen dolls to sick kids in Tauranga Hospital.

Betty Cottle, 80, is the mastermind behind the colourful creations.

She says she was inspired to start knitting the dolls last year after she heard how much toys soothed frightened kids during their hospital stays.

"If you go into A and E and they're going to give you a needle, they'll give you a doll to take your mind off it," Mrs Cottle said.


"It distracts them and takes away a bit of the pain."

The Ocean Shores Retirement Village resident teamed up with two of her friends, who were living in the same village, and asked around their fellow knitting-mad residents for wool, which they were always in need of.

They've been meeting on Mondays to knit dolls since, with 89 dolls knitted so far this year.

Fellow 88-year-old knitter Kath Weale says knitting so many dolls is an easy feat compared with what they used to do.

"It's much easier and quicker than having babies and they're nice and quiet," she said.

The women then either gave their dolls to any fellow resident who was going to hospital or left them on the Ocean Shores reception desk for ambulance officers passing through to pick up.

The dolls have proved such a hit, they've spread from the Emergency Department to ambulances to the children's ward, and even to elderly patients with dementia.

Kids who are given the dolls are allowed to keep them after their stay and take them home.


Mrs Cottle has received many thank you cards, as well as a call from the head nurse in the children's ward, who praised her efforts.

She credited the success of the dolls to them being soft, cuddly and comforting for patients.

"We're doing something useful and I know it is definitely appreciated," she said.

"It lets them know that somebody cares about the kids."