Clifford Barry (Barry) Stewart & Carole Ann Stewart Interview
It’s 27th May  and I’m talking with Barry and Carole Stewart. We’re talking about his achievements in life; Barry, can I leave it over to you, and I’ll just let you tell us the story of your working life?
Thank you. A lot of it is contained in the document we did last year, but some of it I’d like to perhaps pursue further as the one we did last year was just a general overview. There’s perhaps the development of the Psych [Psychiatric] Services, which – I’m not aware if there’s any great history written down anywhere about that, and I don’t know a great deal about it but I’d like to get some of it on record; and also the development of some of the Māori Services that we were involved with.
Perhaps I could start off by saying that there were a number of firsts which I can refer back to, as part of my history anyway. When my parents came in 1943, Tom Parker Avenue was way out of town at that stage, and Taradale was about as far as you could get from Napier and would never join up; and we built in Tom Parker Avenue.
One of the firsts while there, my father started a horticultural business. And he was among the first of many I suppose, through the country who became ‘The Gardener’ talk on 2YZ and other stations around the country; so that’s one of the firsts in our life. He also opened a shop in Marewa when that was a small shopping centre. And everybody said, “Why are you going there? There are no shopping centres that work around the country.” And my father, Cliff Stewart, said, “Well, we’ll see how we go.” And so he along with a few others built a very modest shop in the Marewa Shopping Centre, which has now become one of the big successful shopping centres around Napier, and around lots of other places too, for that matter. And I have one memory of being there, among many; but it was a first in that it was the first Vulcan bomber to fly through New Zealand. And I happened to walk out our back door of the shop – we had a yard out the back which [phone notification] contained plants and seedlings then; we knew the bomber was coming, but everybody was out in the main street looking, and I walked out the back door. And the only thing I could see as I walked out and looked up – the whole sky was filled with this big V-shaped bomber, flying slow speed, just above the top of the shrubs. So another first.
I started at Marewa School in 1944, and there were two rooms in Marewa School at that stage, and now, if you look at it today, it’s a very big and prosperous school in Napier.
Moving more now to the medical side of things perhaps, was one of the many jobs I took on in early life; I decided to become a psychiatric nurse. So I was among the … not the first, but a new development in the world of nursing, and that was training psychiatric nurses specifically; that was in the 1950s and ‘60s, and I did my training in 1960. Among the first there was also dealing with tranquilising drugs which were just brand new on the market – today they’re very much part of our medical stable, if you like. [It was] so far back in history, I actually had to sign the [Official] Secrets Act because I was working for the government, so I had to sign the Secrets Act. We worked under the Mental Health Act of 1905 and one or two amendments, right through, and nothing changed until 1992 when the amended Mental Health Act came into being. As a result of that I was the first Director of Rural Mental Health Services appointed to the Hawke’s Bay area. Other directors were coming in and helping us, but I eventually had that role. We also developed a NASC team, which was Needs Assessment Service Co-ordination, and I was the first team leader of that. And under that service we developed a hundred and ten community beds as the government was devolving its big hospitals. One must remember that at the time I started nursing there were numerous hospitals like Porirua and Avondale Mental Asylum, and there were some ten thousand people who were committed to psychiatric hospitals in New Zealand in the 1950s. As the government changed policies – they were devolving from the big hospitals in 1990 – they started the smaller units, so at this unit I was the first Nursing Supervisor for that area.
But now going back a wee bit in history, if I may – Hawke’s Bay didn’t have a psychiatric service. Dr Rountree came to Hastings in about 1956 as a psychiatrist, and a little later Dr Pritchard … Jack Pritchard … and he and Bill Rountree sort of developed a service which was really … guess it was a private service … and occasionally they’d use a bed in hospitals, either in Napier or in Hastings. Carole, my wife, reminds me that when she did her nursing training in the late fifties, there were at least two bedrooms, I think – one or two bedrooms – which were secure bedrooms in Napier Hospital so you could lock somebody up until they were transported to Porirua Hospital, which had to happen in those days.
Due to Bill Rountree’s influence, the Service developed to where they started to use Ward 1 in the Hastings Hospital, which was really among the first times that a hospital ward was starting to be developed as a place for psychiatric patients, although it was still a medical ward. Again through his influence, and Dr Pritchard, they convinced the Board we needed a new unit; and that was part of government policy – they were slowly starting to try and move people out of big hospitals. So in 1967 the first Psychiatric Unit was opened for Hastings Hospital; a fifteen-bed unit and a day programme. And it was in the far corner of the hospital grounds. The office space is part of the AT&R [Assessment Treatment & Rehabilitation] Unit in building Services. In that building the first Social Worker was appointed to Mental Health Services.
A second unit was built on the 12th of the 3rd [March] 1979, and I was able to open that building; I was a Nursing Supervisor at that stage. This ran for a number of years and was finally closed in January 2016, when the new building, our third new psychiatric unit, was opened. I read somewhere that the first unit cost over $180,000; the current unit cost over $20 million. It’s a matter of interest, isn’t it?
One of the things that developed in the psychiatric service has been the treatment of the patients – or now they’re called consumers, I think. Initially we would receive mostly patients who had a very clear psychiatric diagnosis, for which we had medication which could deal with most of those issues. As we developed the service, also time went by, and we found that the introduction of things like cannabis, LSD and other drugs started coming on the scene – illicit drugs – and these in fact changed the presentation of illnesses, until when I moved out of the psychiatric unit and into the community in 1990 it was becoming more and more difficult to distinguish whether we were dealing with a psychosis from drugs or a psychosis from genuine mental illness.
Also in the 1990s of course, there was a change then in the government policy, which allowed for the development of accommodation in the community to try and get people out of the big hospitals, as they tried to close the big hospitals down. One of the main supporters, while all this was going on, was Dr Ballantyne, who was well-known to the hospital in the days that we were there, and of course many people know his house there on the corner of Omahu Road and the motorway, which is now of course, the Knowledge Bank. But for many years, Dr Ballantyne and I would have discussions on how the unit should run. He was a fine gentleman, and I think that my wife might like to talk more about him. It was due to him, certainly during the late seventies, early eighties when we had no Director of Psychiatry, that he came in as Acting Director and held the Service together. He and I were able to talk with management and keep the Service running, so we’re very, very grateful to Dr Ballantyne. And of course his name is still there now, fortunately; we called it Ballantyne House in the 1980s, where we kept service personnel, and also used it as accommodation for recovering patients. Today it has now become the Renal Dialysis, or Renal Unit.
One of the developments which I’m very pleased to say did happen, but it was very quiet and it wasn’t really my doing; but back in the late seventies and eighties we had few Māori patients, and we always treated them with respect, certainly, but it was really very much on the Western model of treatment. And I can remember one of our OT [Occupational Therapy] staff by the name of Nan Nuku coming to us one day and said, “Look, you’ve got this particular patient there, and I think there might be something cultural which we could look at; would you like my husband, Kuru, to have a look and give some advice?” So Kuru Nuku, who was a kaumātua [elder] at Omahu and was also a member of the Council Services in Hastings, came along and had a look at what was going on, and gave me some advice about how we might bring in a Māori minister. And that approach became more and more common to the point where we had Kuru and other Māori; senior kaumātua, ministers, healers, coming in and working with our Māori patients, which was something relatively new. While it wasn’t denied in years past, it was certainly a further development.
And then in about 1990 we had a change in management structures; the DHB [District Health Board] decided it was going to change everything, and Nursing Psych Supervisors became redundant. And so I moved out into the community as part of the newly developed community Mental Health Service; remembering that way back in [the] 1960s, we had one social worker; and then when we opened the new unit in 1979 we had one community District Nurse. By the time we got to the Community Services in the 1990s of course, we had a great number of staff who were either community psychiatric nurses or community mental health social workers, as well as a unit which supported thirty in-patients and programmes that ran within that. But it was while I was working in Napier in the old Tuakana Nurses’ Home which had become the centre of Community Services, that … being an early bird, I always liked to get to work early … and one day I arrived in and went down to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea and, hello! There was a stranger opposite the tea room. And I went across and said “Hello”, and there was a nice Māori lady there, and I said, “Would you like a cup of tea?” She said, “Yes, please.” And so that’s how our friendship started between Pare Nia Nia and myself; and she was the first mokai appointed into the Community Mental Health Service for advice on Māori Services. And from there on she moved into a lot of work building up the Māori side of the Service. And interestingly, one of the things that she did was to start a whanau support accommodation service, in what was then an abandoned ward – Ward 1; and if you remember I said earlier that was the first ward that started as a Psychiatric Service, and in later years became the first whanau support for Māori Health. And with her support, and a number of us supporting her, she was able to push for further services, which was the beginning now of what is currently called the Māori Health Service, generally.
As a result of that also, she went on to develop a programme in the community as separate from the hospital service, whereby one would go for a weekend … noho. In other words, we went to a marae, and we slept on the marae for Friday and Saturday nights, and we ran a training programme at NCEA [National Certificate of Educational Achievement] Level 4 for Māori who wanted to learn more about mental health; and I would be there as a Mental Health Act advisor as it were, because it was my role to know the Act backwards, and support people in the community and in the hospitals.
So that took us to many marae, from way up Ruatoki which is the northern part up by Whakatane, down to Mahia to marae around this area, and on down to Carterton in the Wairarapa. And we would go for nine months – probably eight or nine noho a year; Carole and I would go and support Pare and her friend Ma’a Samuele in presenting these programmes and teaching these people about the Mental Health Act, and more particularly about mental health and how they could very much look after their own people.
I can remember – unrelated to this – but I had to go out with our Mental Health Manager at one stage when we were trying to set up a programme on the Tangoio marae; we had some people who were interested in developing a care programme. And I went with her and we sat on the paepae [threshold or bench] talking to the local Māori, and it was very much a matter of the people there saying, “We do not want mentally ill people; you hide the mentally ill people. We don’t want them on the marae.” And we had the job – or Aseta was our manager, and she and I and one or two others had the task of convincing the people that perhaps it was a good idea that they look after their own, rather than putting them into Western medicine which did not deal with the Māori concepts.
So we ran into a lot of this sort of … around the country. People were concerned psychiatric illness was not very well accepted amongst a lot of the Māori people; they didn’t know what it was or what was happening. And we didn’t know why they didn’t know, and slowly through people like Pare and other kaumātua we met, and whaea [mothers, aunts] that we met on the marae, we learned to understand what the Māori people thought psychiatric illness was about, or its concept, or its basis. I can remember a good friend of mine telling me the story of a young Māori lass who was admitted to a psychiatric unit because she was suicidal and everybody was concerned because she kept talking about wanting to meet her grandmother … go and be with the grandmother. And it wasn’t until a friend of mine went and talked with her and listened to her, and said, “This is quite normal. She’s a young Māori lass and her grandmother has died; she was very close to her and she just wants to be with her. Got nothing to do with suicide; it’s just – how can we help her to live with her grandmother’s presence?” And things like this; so we immediately stopped treating her like it was suicide and put other supports in. And this is the sort of thing that Carole and I were learning a great deal about as we went through the Services.
Could you just give me the spelling of some of those Māori names that you’ve talked about?
[Barry spells names for the transcript]
So as we go ahead, if you could just …
I’ll try and remember to do them.
A very good talk indeed; really interesting.
Things like Bill Rountree and Jack Pritchard – you’d know those names; they’re easy enough to follow through on.
The service with Māori was interesting. It also included us travelling in the finish, to [the] Chatham Islands, or Rēkohu; [Moriori name] and learning how to work with those people, both the Moriori and the Māori who were there. Wharekauri was the [Māori] name of the island … think I might’ve given you the wrong name there; it was Wharekauri, or Chatham Island.
Carole: Depending … Māori, Moriori.
Barry: [Spells and clarifies names in each language]
So once or twice a year we would fly over in the Chatham Islands plane which also carried fish and anything else they could carry as cargo. And they made us very welcome, and I would spend a week over there, not only teaching, but a lot of it was setting up the policies and procedures of the young Māori service that we were setting up over there. And having had a lot to do with the DHB [District Health Board] policies and procedures I was able to do that quite easily in a private capacity. I wasn’t employed by the hospital at that stage, and retired. I had a hip replacement; had a heart attack; had a heart and valve replacement along with one or two minor bits and pieces …
Carole: A brain tumour.
Barry: I had a brain tumour; but all that’s gone by the board, and we continue on in the service that we were giving. I’m not involved so much now; I’m getting a little on the older side and sometimes a bit forgetful, so [chuckle] it’s better not to.
The other one that I wanted to … I just can’t recall his name now … is setting up in the Community Services; changing hats out of the Maori Services and into the NASC team, which was Needs Assessment Service Co-ordination. And of course that again came about in the 1990s when the government policy was to close down the big hospitals. And they did it rather suddenly – a very poor policy on the part of government – they just suddenly closed the hospitals down and there were [was] nowhere for people to go. Hawke’s Bay wasn’t quite so bad, because we had had a lot of people into either Porirua or then Lake Alice Hospital in Wanganui, who had returned and they had been housed, so we weren’t so badly off, but we did need accommodation. And part of my job was to supervise and authorise the various people who wanted to take in patients, or consumers. So we built up from ‘bout fifteen to twenty beds in the time that I was involved with that for about five years; we built up to a hundred and ten beds in the community for patients, who were then called psychiatric patients; now called consumers of the Mental Health Service. And then again the government decided to change policy slightly as a number of hospitals round the country were building up rather small mini-institutions with fifteen to twenty beds. They were just becoming sort of mini-hospitals rather than private accommodation.
One of the groups that I helped start in Napier was called ‘The Lighthouse’ originally, and while I didn’t actually start it I put a lot of support and time and effort on behalf of the Hospital Board into it. And from there we developed … somebody there (I’ll have to come back with his name later I think, because he deserves full recognition and unfortunately it’s one of those memory lapses at the moment). But he started looking after one or two patients that we had in the unit, and some of these patients would take up to six a months in-patient care. They were pretty disturbed, and the illness – usually manic-depressive or a schizophrenic type of illness – is not something you can cure. You can alleviate and you can make life a lot better, but often it’s not curable. But with support, you can get them out of hospital and they can live a reasonable sort of life. And this was happening and we were very grateful, and I and a couple of my staff discovered that they were volunteering the services of these people for free. And we felt that that wasn’t a fair thing, as there were other agencies in the community who were charging about $15-$20 an hour to look after people in home-help services. So with a bit of careful work … it was Mary Wells, who was in a new department they started in the DHB which looked after Community Services for funding … I got permission to say, “Well look, why don’t we get these people to send us a bill once a month, and we’ll pay for it?” So we started off paying, you know, $50, $60 a month, and then $100 a month, and then it was $1,000 a month until I’d built up a budget; I kept on a computer very clearly what we were doing, to where I made an estimate one year that they would want $200,000. I want $200,000 this year to run this part of the service. As a result of those services we were able to say to the management team, “Look – with this service you were paying for a hospital bed, a psychiatric unit for three to nine months of the year, at $400 a night. We started out paying $100 a day; then we dropped it down to about $300 a week; we are now down to $150 a week that this person is costing, as opposed to $400 per night.” And we had a bit of an argument about it at one stage, and I was sent in to argue the point; and I said very clearly, “Well, it’s up to you, but I think, guys, I can cut your budget” – they wanted twenty-five per cent cut off the budget – I said “That’s fine. I’ll simply push a button on the computer and that’ll take twenty-five per cent out of the budget. Easy. But what you must realise is that as a result of that, these men are going to start coming back into the units and they’re going to cost ten times as much; so the choice, gentlemen, is yours.” They said, “We really can’t do anything”, so they left me alone. It’s one of the few times I think I got away with something like that, but as a result of that we developed a programme … or at least I didn’t, some community people did … and they called it ‘WIT’ – Whatever It Takes. And it set out as a very humble service just looking after a few people; and then it’s developed now to a big service where I see – I think they’ve had two grants of over $300,000 recently to supply housing for displaced persons; for mental health patients; for a whole lot of things in the community. So I’m very pleased that while I didn’t set it up, Doug Banks was the person who actually started it off, and I think he deserves full credit. Their office now is a very nicely placed office right opposite Ahuriri, where the fishing boats tie up; right down there, so if they want to wander out and get a breath of fresh air they can watch all the goings-on in the boat harbour.
The other one – we had a place which we set up, and I took a lot of people from there to evening programmes. What we were trying to do back in the nineties …
Carole: When you retired.
Barry: … we were trying to get people to integrate back into the community. So one of the things that I did, just as a matter of interest was – we had a fifteen-bed unit up on the hill called Lincoln Grange, which was up in Lincoln Road – which I don’t think belongs to the hospital now – and in my own time I’d go up there in the evening and use their ten-seater van, and we’d pick up a number of clients from around the community, and we’d go out somewhere. We might go to the Cossie Club, [Cosmopolitan Club] play darts and have the odd non-alcoholic drink; we might go to the RSA [Returned Services Association] – we had people who could vouch for us so we would be allowed in; and do these normal things … might go out for a film evening about once a fortnight. And as a result of that, so the other part of the service developed; then WIT started up, and it went on like that.
I think it is important to state that Pita Lloyd was in charge of Lincoln Grange, and she was very supportive of what I was trying to do with her clients.
And then, to help develop the Māori Services, I need to mention someone very important who’s now passed away, sadly; I think Pita has also. That was Fred Reti; he was from Tangoio, and he was not really a mental health person at all, but he was a trustee of a group of Māori people who wanted to set up a service. So again, I supported them – they trusted me, I trusted them. And Fred used to come along and sit in as a trustee to see what was going on with the meetings, and slowly he learnt a lot about mental health. And I had another very good friend who came with me, a psych nurse – one of the old psych nurses like myself – Ken Edme from Lake Alice, and he and I would go to these groups with Māori and go through what was happening; do a case study each time with them. And Fred sat in, and he became very interested and became a strong supporter in developing the Māori Health Services. So we’re very grateful to people like that who should be contactable through a programme like this, or at least their name appears as part of our history. I think that that sort of covers it fairly well at this stage.
Okay, that’s very interesting. I enjoyed listening to that, and I could listen to a lot more.
There’s probably a lot more to come. [Chuckle]
Right. And you’re still doing quite a bit of work in this line?
No, not these days, because health is becoming quite an issue, and mobility is becoming an issue. And I found that trying to recall them – I think I’ve done rather well today – trying to recall information, sometimes there’s a mental block. It’s not that one loses memory … just have a recall problem [chuckle] actually.
I did do a lot of lecturing, and earlier on when the Mental Health Act first came in in 1992, the then manager of the Service said to me, “Well, we need somebody to introduce it.” Because the new Mental Health Act was really a total rewrite of the old Mental Health Act. We didn’t know how it was going to work. So I suppose that I can add that I did a bit of studying in law – not officially, of course. It turned out that I had to … I studied it very closely, because under the Mental Health Act you’re taking people’s rights away; we were now going to contain them in Hawke’s Bay in hospital, which didn’t happen prior to 1992; everybody went to Lake Alice if you committed somebody – or Porirua. And now we had to know what their rights were, and how often they had to be reviewed, and I had to make sure their treatment programme was running safely. We met every fortnight with the judge … Judge Ron Bartleson at that time … who was the judge of the Family Court, because part of the legislation had taken mental health issues out of the Criminal Court and put them into the Family Court. We all felt, ‘Well, you’re not going to parade people downtown to the Courthouse, so …’ And the judges I think around the country very kindly said, “Well, if you can give us some security we will meet in one of your rooms and we’ll discuss … it’s still a Court, and it’s still the full weight of the Court, but it won’t be in a Courthouse.” And so Judge Ron Bartleson and the lawyer who was supporting him and also talked with me and gave me advice – we would meet every second Wednesday, and we’d would probably have about ten patients who were under various parts of The Mental Health Act. I had very little to say; the judge and the lawyer and the doctors, nurses who were looking after patients, were discussing the case. And if the judge felt that we had made a mistake on something he’d look at me and say, “Now, will you please fix that?” [Chuckles] It was [chuckle] my job to make sure that staff knew what was required if something hadn’t been done correctly, ‘cause originally when the Act first come out I did speak to some lawyers; I spoke to Police; I spoke to nurses; spoke to doctors, and anybody else who’d listen I suppose, in a sense, so …
Carole: Except your wife.
Barry: … except your wife … [chuckles] but apart from the judge himself. And then of course we were constantly being reviewed, because a judge in some part of the country said, “No, you don’t interpret it that way, you interpret it this way,” as you’d be aware. We would then have to know what it was all about, so I went to three-monthly meetings with the Ministry of Health, Mental Health Department; and we would sit down for a whole day and discuss the latest decisions of judges, and then bring it back and teach our staff.
And of course, something I haven’t mentioned – I also developed an on-call Crisis Team, and I had to train them to make sure they knew when to apply the Act. And in the initial stages I was part of that Crisis Team, so I’d get rung at two o’clock in the morning; and the Police would say, “We have somebody in the cells”, or “we’re going to see so-and-so; we think they’re mentally ill; we think they should be under the Mental Health … would you please come and assess them for us?” So – part of my job, and then the other team, would be to go out and sit in somebody’s lounge, or sit [in the] cells [at] the Courthouse or the Police Station, and assess whether that person needed further assessment. And if we thought they did, then we’d place them into the Mental Health Act, so we had a lot of power to do that ourselves. And then that’s when it came up for review by the judges to make sure that we were doing the right thing.
It must’ve been a very interesting life that you had with this, and … did you think it was going to be like this when you first got into it?
No. I first got into it because I’d been working as a manager trainee for the Farmers’ Trading Company as they were called, in Auckland. Didn’t particularly like it, but we’d come down to Napier. Carole was three months pregnant with our daughter so we’d come down to see her parents down here. And on the way back to Auckland we decided, “Let’s go over the Gentle Annie.” So we did. And well over the other side, she said, “Oh, I’ll drive.” I said, “Righto.” So she drove, and promptly drove us into the bank; not quite actually, [chuckle] missed on a corner. And [chuckles] it wasn’t serious, but of course being the gentleman I was, I immediately threw my arm across in front of her to protect her from going into the steering wheel, and she broke my arm. So [chuckles] as a result of that I couldn’t go back to work for a while and I saw the advert for psych nurses at – it was then called Carrington Hospital …
Carole: Oakley Hospital.
Barry: No, Oakley Hospital; used to be Avondale Mental Hospital. And that’s where I got into it, then. No, I never thought of that. My original thinking was, well I’d be one of the nurses who worked in a ward with a hundred and forty dangerous patients, most of the time, and another hundred and fifty patients who weren’t so dangerous. Oakley had about two thousand patients then: half and half, male/female. So I had some interesting times in both wards; some dangerous times and some not-so dangerous times, so it was fascinating.
And then a friend of ours came up from … well, we left Auckland ‘cause our daughter became unwell; as I say, another story there. And we went up to [the] Bay of Islands, and a friend of Carole’s came up a year or two later and joined us for a holiday, and said, “Oh – they’re looking for a tutor in Psychiatry at Hastings Hospital.” And for some reason I took that job on and we came back to Hastings, expecting to stay there as a tutor, but then the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board changed its mind and all the tutoring was going to go to EIT. [Eastern Institute of Technology] I didn’t particularly want to go to EIT …
Carole: Community College.
Barry: Community College in those days. And a position came up in the Psych Unit; they had a vacancy for [a] Charge Nurse. You remember the building – that was the old, old building, and that had been built in 1967. So I came in in 1976 as the Charge Nurse, and then they opened the new building, the second new building, in 1979. And my life was quite different to how I think we’d envisaged it. If you’d told me growing up I was going to become a psychiatric nurse living with danger all the time, as a lot of it was … was in the big hospitals … I’d have said, “Oh, no!”
Bit different from the seed [chuckles] … seed shop.
Different from the seed shop, or my father’s motels or anything like that. Carole: ‘Til the government appointed DAMS …
Barry: And then we ended up as a DAMS, or District Area Mental Health Services Manager, which was appointed by the government over and above the nursing appointments. So yes, life has taken on quite a significant difference for both of us, living with interesting things; called out in the middle of the night to go and help the Psych Unit when we didn’t have enough staff, so I’d be called in; my Charge Nurse … two Charge Nurses … and I took a week about to go on call for the staff, who didn’t have security. So if a patient became dangerous and we’d have to go and give them medication, we’d be called. And you can guess who somehow got in the front of the queue to go in the door first … it was me. [Chuckle] So no, life was good; and the patients on the whole were very good. And we made some very good friends amongst people who had become quite dangerous people because of the illness; and once you got the illness under control, then we got them out to accommodation they became very much normal, like all the rest of us, just from a bit of support. So yes, you’re right – it was different.
Yeah. Well, Barry, thank you very much, that was terrific and we’ll add that to your interview last year, and I thank you for the time that you’ve given.
I’m now with Carole Stewart, and Carole, very nice to talk to you today.
Carole: Thank you.
And I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about Doctor Ballantyne, and you’ve got one or two other bits that you want to talk about as well, so over to you.
Well, thank you very much. It’s so lovely to be talking to the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank because Barry and I both worked with Doctor Ballantyne and felt that he was a friend, not a social friend but a real friend; somebody we valued very, very much and who was very helpful to the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board with the early Psych Services. I’m extremely proud because I went out on a limb to make sure that Doctor Ballantyne’s memory stayed in front of people within the hospital. Now, I’m not sure when it was … the end of [the] 1990s … what was the former Orderlies’ quarters at Hastings Memorial Hospital became vacant. The building was adjacent to the second Psychiatric Unit which had its entrance in Orchard Road, so the orderlies weren’t using it any more and it became part of the Psychiatric Unit, and I think my husband’s already talked about that.
At the time we had somebody working for us that we absolutely loved … everybody loved … Doctor Earl, from Havelock North. I could talk more about him as well. Doctor Earl graciously said that he would prefer, rather than the house being named after him, that it be named for Doctor Ballantyne, and we were all very glad about that, so the house became known as Ballantyne House. It’s very long-winded of me to get to this point.
In March 2003 the Māori Health Service took over Ballantyne House, and they wanted to change the name; drop the name of Ballantyne House and rename it … I haven’t got the name here. So I spent a lot of time making a case why his name should be retained. This meant that I phoned; I made quite a few applications; wrote up six documents which I supplied to people, and got information [permission] from Dr Ballantyne’s family in the South Island that I could go to his house – I think I’ve already mentioned that in my previous interview. I asked Barry to come with me, and we came into the empty house and Doctor Ballantyne’s uniform was still hanging in the closet in the bedroom, and his hat was on the stand in the hall. And we were able to go through his desk and find lots of invitations that had come. [Break]
I’m glad to talk about this, and I’m very proud of the fact that with negotiations with the Māori Health Unit, although they still wanted to change the name of Ballantyne House, they decided that they would keep his memory alive in the sitting room of that place, and they would call it Ballantyne Room.
So Barry and I had been to the empty Ballantyne House. I found a photograph that we could have enlarged which was suitable for hanging on the wall, and we asked Kuru to come with us in a dawn ceremony at Ballantyne House. And the people present at that time [were] Pare Brooking, Kuru Nuku, Te Rohina Williams, Te Imi Wainga wānanga and Barry Stewart and myself – and we presented his photograph. And now that place has been decommissioned from the Māori Health Service; it is now the Renal Unit and has become known as Ballantyne House. And I have written a history that stays within the unit there, which I will give to the Knowledge Bank. And I’m just very pleased that so easily the name of a person that we felt so very close to, and had so much to thank for, still will feature at the hospital, and his history will be known.
I’m a poet as well, and I wrote a poem for him in June 2004. And it’s about the former home of David [Diamond Allan] Ballantyne. As everybody will know that knows about him, he was taken prisoner in the Battle of Crete, and then a doctored in prisoner-of-war camps in Germany in World War II. He loved to play Debussy on his grand piano; he would come to work and say, “Carole, I’ve mastered it”, or “I’ve just got to the end of this”; and he was very proud towards the end of my time of knowing him that he had memorised ‘La Mer’ by Debussy. And this is the poem: ‘At Stoneycroft’, June, 2004 – which is the time that we went in and we saw his military uniform still hanging in the wardrobe and his cap downstairs on the hall stand. So:
‘At Stoneycroft trees tower roof high,
The sky, paratrooper clear of fear,
Debussy waves in snatches of windsong
And in his deeds, remembrance
On the hall stand, his military cap carefully placed’
And that really comes from him often telling me about Crete, and about being so paranoid with lack of sleep and days and days of being pursued, and treating his fellow-soldiers, that he was sure that every plane that came over had his name personally emblazoned on it. And he realised that he was having some kind of paranoid reaction; he realised that he needed just to get out. He found a cave; he crawled into it, slept for a while, came right; but that changed his perception for ever about what drives people sometimes into perceptions that are not right, [but] which are very real. And so he had the compassion therefore for psychiatry and for mentally ill patients. So that’s all I want to say about Dr Ballantyne. I’m personally very pleased that his name and his portrait will hopefully always stay at Hastings Hospital, and that the documents that I’ve supplied about his time and what he did there will stay as part of a [an] accessible history.
Now, the next thing that I want to talk about is the Hawke’s Bay Live Poets’ Society, started in Hastings in March 1992 at the instigation of Keith Thorsen, who was the Community Arts Director of the Hastings and District Community Arts Council. Poetry became quite a large, important thing in my life, and I’m very grateful to Keith Thorsen. At that time, Keith started a Live Poets’ meeting once a month in a pub called ‘The Cat and the Fiddle’. Thirty years later, ‘The Cat and the Fiddle’ doesn’t exist any more, but we now meet in the Community Arts Centre in Hastings once a month. It’s been a wonderful time for me and for many people, and there is a history that I’ve written.
Keith Thorsen worked with what I think was known as the Hawke’s Bay Community College then, to tap into courses that they were running to have poets such as Lauris Edmond come to the college to run courses for people. So I attended those, and then lo and behold this Society was started.
So I became the president after a few years, and was president for [?thirty?] years, and I could give a history of the society. But for me personally, it has been a wonderful thing and it gave me the courage to write a book, ‘Flower Fairies and Birds of Aotearoa New Zealand’. It has given me the confidence and allowed me to support Napier Live Poets, which was started a few years ago. One of the things I’m very grateful for is the support that I’ve had for writing over the years; it started with the Community College and the courses that it ran there, and then the Hawke’s Bay Live Poets’ Society in Hastings and Napier Live Poets, which I’ve also supported.
Two things I’d like to talk about are two poems that I have gifted and have been taken up, and which I’m very happy about. The first is a poem which I wrote for Pukemokimoki Marae for its tenth anniversary. I was at the opening of Pukemokimoki Marae, and as the people walked across the front grounds, there were two shooting stars that were seen. So this is the poem:
‘There were portents over Omio
At the sacred time of blessing
Two shooting stars in the pre-dawn sky
Above the chant of karakia
Trails were twice-blazed Tā moko
Incised briefly on the dark skin of space
Seamless, the garment of life and death
It holds all shape of dimension
Past and present and what is to come
Pukemokimoki, hill of fragrant fern,
Your faith is well rewarded
The future is safe-guarded
In your sweet growth’
I have an attachment to Pukemokimoki in that its history as Heitia Hiha [Kaumātua – Ngāti Matepu] tells it, is that in 1872 Pukemokimoki Hill was removed during railway construction, and the earth was laid where the current new urban marae is. In 1872 also – that precise year – my great-grandfather Samuel Bennett arrived at Ahuriri on the sailing ship ‘Chile’, to help build the railway line, so I feel very connected to that marae.
And another thing that I also wanted to mention is that I’m very grateful to Napier that one of my poems adorns a wall in Cathedral Lane. And it’s been written into a shape which is a standard Art-Deco shape; so it isn’t written in the linear way that I wrote it. If you looked at it in the linear way you would see that every second word results in beginning ‘A-r-t D-e-c-o’. But this is the poem anyway, and I’m very grateful that it’s there because I love Napier. [This poem is titled ‘The Phoenix’]
Of Deco delight’
So from the beginnings of a Community College which has now become EIT, and with the encouragement of somebody like Keith Thorsen who started Hawke’s Bay Live Poets’ Society that is still going over thirty years later, just with these ongoing supports, poetry has become quite a part of my life. That’s all I have to say about that.
So on behalf of the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank … just like to thank Carole and Barry for their talk this afternoon, and we appreciate [it] very much, and thank you.
Just a little addition that we’ve got to put on – Barry?
Thank you, Jim. Just wanted to add something under Pare Nia Nia’s name, which I clean forgot earlier on, and it’s so vitally important. Everywhere you go in [the] Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board area now, you’ll come across their logo, which of course is Hawke’s Bay District Health Board with three gannets flying away on the top, from it; and the word underneath is ‘Whakawāteatia’, which Pare herself gave to the emblem. She didn’t actually design the emblem, but was in consultation with the person that designed it. But the word that she gave, in Māori, whakawāteatia, is ‘to set free from illness, to wellness’; in other words, moving from illness into health. So I think that’s very important to add, and the fact that of course now it’s on every badge in the hospital, and if you wanted to go through any security door you have to produce your badge, which has that particular emblem on it. And she actually passed away in 2005.
Carole: The marae within the hospital – that’s really important.
Barry: Oh – and the other part that I didn’t say and I should’ve, is the area where the Māori Health Unit is now, Mihiroa Marae it’s called, and that was developed from Aunty Mihiroa from Pakipaki, who was a great friend of Pare’s of years ago; and that’s what Ward 1 was initially called that I mentioned earlier on in my talk, and then became the marae; part of the hospital ground[s] now, where the Māori Health Service runs from.
Just to add to that, Pare Nia Nia was also responsible for the naming of the accommodation part that is attached to Māori Health Services in Omahu Road, for visitors visiting their whanau in hospital. And she named it the Mihiroa Marae, and they gave the name as I said, because that was one of the old whaea from Pakipaki who was a great friend and supporter of Pare, and who we knew quite well; and her name is immortalised in that marae building.
Original digital file
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Interviewer: Jim Newbigin
More about Pukemokimoki here: https://www.pukemokimoki.co.nz/about
See Carole Stewart’s ‘The Phoenix’ poem here: https://www.pressreader.com/new-zealand/hawkes-bay-today/20131030/281792806775360
Hawke’s Bay District Health Board logo: https://hawkesbay.health.nz/