Gentle singing brings comfort

December 1, 2020

When words are not enough, there is always singing. This is the philosophy behind the Wellington group Whakaahuru – The Gentle Singers.

Chrissie Lawley
Chrissie Lawley after singing to a resident at Millvale House, Miramar.
“The aim of the bedside singing group is to comfort people near the end of life with gentle, soothing songs. They sing in small groups of up to four people by request, at people’s bedsides, at home or in care facilities from Wellington through to Porirua and the Hutt Valley.

“Our singing offers comfort and relaxation, a connection with community and a feeling of support that extends to family and caregivers. We’re trained to be sensitive to the needs of those present, and to respond accordingly,” said choir member Sue Chamberlain.


Whakaahuru singers often have a background in health. Musical adviser Chrissie Lawley nursed at Wellington Hospital for 20 years and has been a member of Whakaahuru from its beginning six years ago. She regards belonging to Whakaahuru as “an extraordinary privilege”, enabling the singers to bring joy and peace to families and people receiving palliative care.

The bedside singing concept began in the United States in 2000 and has grown to become an international movement, with hundreds of groups throughout the world offering the service.

Bedside singing is available in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Nurses who would like to let patients and their families know about bedside singing are encouraged to view the websites or email for further information.