Whakatāne Hospital staff who "moved heaven and earth" for Whakaari/White Island victims were thanked on behalf of victims.

The head of the country's National Burn Centre passed on the message of gratitude to Whakatāne Hospital staff from Whakaari/White Island survivors.

National Burn Centre clinical leader and plastics surgeon Dr Richard Wong She said he visited the hospital yesterday with National Burn Service coordinator Tracey Perrett, Burn Governance Group chair Dr Mark Moores and a group of burns specialists who treated patients from the eruption in December.

There were 47 people on Whakaari/White Island at the time of the eruption, 21 lost their lives including two local tour guides and Whakatāne Hospital was the first to receive victims.


The team worked through the night triaging and stabilising patients; transferring them to intensive care units and the national burns units around the country with the last patient airlifted out the following day.

Wong She said it was really important to visit the hospital to talk with and listen to staff who "put everything into providing the best of care for those patients before they were transferred out".

"Those patients you moved heaven and earth for, we too moved heaven and earth, and they did as well as they possibly could."

As a result of the tragedy, the National Burn Service saw more burns at once than it would expect to treat in a year.

"For every percentage of burns to their bodies those patients spent a day and a half in hospital having operations.

"The survivors I treated in the National Burn Centre told me how grateful they were for care they received.

"It was important for me to pass that onto the team here at Whakatāne Hospital where their care in our health system began."