History of Hastings Hospital to 1941



A.M. Isdale,
B. A.

April 1941



The Beginnings

1906 – 1910.   Pages 1 – 2.   PAGES

Introductory Note.   1-2
Cottage Hospital Proposal.         2
District Nurse Counter – Proposition.    2
Proposed Ambulance For Hastings.   2


The Casualty Ward Proposal

1910 – 1911.   Pages 3 – 9.

A Public Meeting.   3
Suggestion Re Board Maintaining Patients In Hastings Private Hospitals.   3-4
The First Fund.   4
The First Committee.   5
Mr G.P. Donnelley’s Letter (Previous History – Fresh
Offer of Site – Suggestion Re Native District Nurse.   5
Meeting and Decision To Send Deputation To Hospital Board.   5-6
The Deputation And Its Reception By The Board.   6-8
The Board’s Special Meeting   8-9
Matter Deferred – Ambulance Suggested.   9


The Proposal Revived

1913 – 1914.   Pages 10-22

Dropped For Two Years – Levies Bring the Question Up Again.   10
A.A. George’s Letter and the Hospital Board.   10-11
Smallpox   11
Public Meeting: Formation of the Hastings Hospital Association   11-12
The Association Decides to send a Deputation to the Hospital Board   13
Questionnaire to Doctors and House to House Canvass Proposal   14
The Hastings Committee’s Decisions :  An Addition to Funds   15
The Doctors’ Report: State of Funds   15
The Canvass and its Result: More Additions to Funds   17
The Hospital Saturday Affair: Disagreement with Board   18
The Association Holds its Own Collection: Growth and Investment of Funds   20-21
Action – and Deputation – Deferred by the Association   21
Ball for Funds: The Great War Stops Activities   22

Page ii


A Maternity Accommodation Proposal

1916 …   23 – 24
The Hastings Deputation Meets the Minister of Health   23 – 24


The Combined Maternity and Cottage Hospital Proposal

1918 …   25-28

Levies Again   25
A Public Meeting is Held and Appoints a Committee   25
Letter and Deputation   26


The Influenza Epidemic

1918   29-39

Temporary Hospital and Other Measures and Developments   29-30
Climax and Subsidence   30
Hospital Question raised again : Funds   32
Further Progress Towards Recovers: Surplus Funds for Hospital Affirmed   33
Chairman of the Hospital Board’s Letter : Protest and Account of Measures taken   34
Nearing the End   36
Clearing up and Reports : Effect of Epidemic on Hospital Idea   37
Mr. Shrimpton’s Report and Summary, as Chairman of the Hospital Board, of the Measures taken to Deal with the Epidemic   38


The Renewal of Effort After the Epidemic

1919-1920   40-44

Mr. L.W. Fowler’s Letter Suggesting a Special Hospital District   40
War Memorial Again   40-41
Deputation to the Hospital Board: Approval Gained   41
Maternity Hospital Only?   41-42
Both Maternity and Casualty Wards   42
Formation of the Hastings Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Committee   42-43
Funds: Canvass and its success   43
Site Chosen and Acquired : Conditions and Arrangements with Department   43-44

Page iii


The Years of Negotiation and Delay

1920 – 1924   45-66

Departmental Variances   45
Proposed Arrangements   45-46
The First Sketch Plans   46
Subscriptions and Maternity Vs General   46
Raising of Government subsidy   46
Monuments   46
Preparation of Grounds etc. : £3000 for Start of Building Placed on the Estimates   47
First Plans Found too Expensive: Keeping on a Cash Basis:
Cutting Down Desired   47
A Hold-Up Follows   47-48
Architects’ Details of Cuts in Plans       48
A General Meeting Discusses the Position   48-50
The Department and Altered Plans   50
Proposed Transfer of the Site to the Crown   51
Hospital and Monument   51
County Council and Levy   51
Base or Auxiliary Hospital : Matter Brought up Over Question of Vesting Site in Government or Hospital Board   52-53
Ready for Tenders: Department Prepared to help with Subsidy   53
Delay: Board and Department   53-54
State of Funds   54
The Department Brings Forward a New Plan   54-55
A Fresh Difficulty: Architects’ Claim for Payment for Original Plans   55-56
The Hospital Board’s Plan         56-57
Plans and Architects : Dr. Valintine’s Visit: the Architects Brought to Terms   57-58
The Architects and the Question of Supervision   58
All Apparently now Clear   59
Preparation of Plans Makes Delay : Taking Levels   59
New Estimates too High   59
Appeal to the Hospital Board   60-61
General Meeting of the Memorial Committee Considers the Position   61
Further Explanations in a Private Letter from Mr. Ebbett to Mr. Baird   63-66


On the Way

1924 – 1926   67-87

“The First Sod.”   67
Waiting for the Completion of Plans   67
The Hospital Board Considers and Approves the Plans   67-68
A Hitch Occurs re Medical Staff Recommendations: Resolved by   Conference   68
Tenders once More Too High : Hospital Board Proposes to meet   the Deficiency   69
Mr. Ebbett Outlines Position to Mr. Allen of the Department   69-70
Departmental Delays : Dr. Valintine out of Country   71-72
Return of Dr. Valintine   72
Mr. Ebbett’s Account to Dr. Valintine and Mr. Donovan   73


Page iv

Return of Dr. Valintine   72
Mr. Ebbett’s Account to Dr. Valintine and Mr. Donovan   73
Arranging Deputation   77
Decided Department Prepare Plans       77
Hastings Committee Accepts Department’s Offer   78
The Honorary Staff Reports on the Plans   79
Board Approves Department Preparing Plans   81
Verifying Locations   81
Mr. Ebbett Receives Details of Memorial Hall   81
Completion of Plans: Undertaking Required from Hastings Committee   82
A Fresh Hold-Up   83
Financial Arrangements : Board Formally Approves Plans   84
Question of Authorising Tenders to See if Available Funds Sufficient for Purpose   85
A Small Delay   86
Tenders: Lowest Comes within Funds Available   86
Financial Arrangements Satisfactorily Completed   87
At Last on a Practical Footing : Heart Timber   87



1927 – 1928   88-99

Building Begins   88
In Progress: Matter of the Brass Plate : Grounds : Question of Administration and Staffing : Furniture and Equipment: Maintenance   88-89
Donations   89
Ready for Opening: Description   90-93
Hospital Board Preparations : Higher Levies Required : Staffing: Furnishing (Not able to complete before date)
Use as Maternity and/or General Hospital : Question of Invitations   93-95
The Order of Proceedings for the Opening Ceremony   96
Illustration Showing Hospital at Date of Opening : Souvenir Program
The Opening Ceremony   96-98



The Maternity Home

1928 – 1931   99-112

Committee Appointed by Board to be Responsible   99
Delay in Making Ready for Use: Ante-Natal Clinic: Various Works and Improvements : Grounds etc.   99-103
In Use:  McHardy Donation Provides for Ante-Natal Clinic : More Improvements   103
Another Windfall: Decision not to go on with Convalescent Provision on account of Pressure of Maternity Cases   103
First General Meeting of the Hastings Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Committee : Further Progress at Hospital: The Meeting   104-108
Donations: Ante-Natal Clinic on Estimates : Question of Convalescent Accommodation crops up again   108
Outpatients’ Department suggested and some Various Matters.   111
Various Happenings up to the Earthquake   111
The First Annual Report   109-110

Page v


The 1931 Earthquake

1931   113-118

Emergency Hospitals etc. : Dr Biggs’ Report   113-114
Need Expressed for General Hospital   114
Suggestion of Shifting the Base Hospital to Hastings   114-116
The Kelly Bequest
Dr. Briggs’ Report at the End of May: Closing of Field Hospital and Question of General Accommodation: End of Earthquake Emergency Period   116-118
Use of Memorial Hospital for General Cases


The Campaign for an Adequate General Hospital

1931 – 1934   119-145

A Public Meeting   119
The Board Agrees to Increased General Accommodation   119
Hastings a General Hospital – on a Small Scale   122
Legal Doubts re Kelly Bequest   120
Protests re Delay   122
Further Information re Kelly Bequest   124
More Protests re Delay   125
Board and Department   126
Finance the Stumbling Block : Kelly Bequest Tied up : Not then Available   127
Hastings Members Suspicious of District Maternity Nursing Scheme   128
Minister Meets Deputation : 50 Beds : Hastings Petition   128
The Board’s Decision   130
An Explanation   131
Financial Arrangements – and the Department   131
A Deputation : Details of Proposals : Minister Promises Assistance   133
Accommodation Problems : A Doctor’s Protest : Board Hopefully Considers Naming of New Wards   136
A Financial Snag   136
Naming Wards and Other Recognition of Services : Review of the Financial Year 1931-32   137
Continuing Review of Financial Year : Chairman’s Annual Report   138
A Definite Estimate of Maintenance   139
Department Unsuccessfully brings up Again District Maternity Nursing   139
An Obstacle Removed   140
Annual Report 1932-33 : Progress of Negotiations:   141
Financial Stumbling Block : General Developments : Question of Re-registration as a Training School   142
The Medical Superintendent’s Report re Services Given   142
The Chairman’s Report for 1933-1934 : As Before :  Hopes of an Early Solution: Proposals   144
Financial Estimates and Returns   144

Page vi


The Dream Becomes a Reality

1935-1941   146-154

Additions Proceeding   146
Up to Date Radio Equipment   146
A Financial Suggestion and Later Arrangements   146-147
The 1935 Board Elections: A Win for Hastings Interests   147
The Opening Ceremony of the Additions   147-149
Progress During 1935-36   149
Progress During 1936-37   150
Progress During 1937-38: Need for Additions : Special Report
re Services and Average Costs   150-151
Work Done and Future Programme (1938)   151
Progress During 1936-39: Loan Proposal   151-152
Progress During 1939-40:   152
Big Extensions Planned   153
Work Begins on Those Plans: 1941 : Looking to the Future   154

APPENDICES   155-161

A.   District Nurse   155-158
B.   Maori District Nurse   159
C.   Hastings Ambulance   160
D.   Royston Hospital   161


The  Beginnings

1906 – 10


The history of Hastings Memorial Hospital as an institution begins on ANZAC Day, 25th April 1928; its history as an idea, and the long struggle of that idea towards realisation, begins at least as far back as 1906.  It is with this latter aspect that this account is chiefly concerned.


The earliest mention that we can find of the idea of establishing a hospital in Hastings evidently indicates that it had been already mooted and tentatively adopted as a project by a Seddon Memorial Committee as at a meeting of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Trustees (Napier), on Monday, 13th August, 1906, we find: –

“F.C. Hartshorn wrote asking what position Board would adopt if Hastings Seddon Memorial Committee erected a building for hospital purposes as a Seddon Memorial.  The matter had only been suggested, but they desired to know if the Board would take over the building if erected.

“Referred to Committee – Chairman (J.B. Fielder), Hon. J.D. Ormond, A.E. Eagleton, W.J. McGrath, J. Spence, to confer with sub-committee from Hastings and report at next meeting of the Board.”

This was duly done, and the meeting of Monday, 10th September, “included a proposal that if sufficient money were raised in Hastings to erect and equip a cottage hospital there, as a memorial to the late Mr. Seddon, the Trustees should take it over and assume the responsibility of its management.  After some discussion as to the probable cost of maintenance, it was decided to inform Hastings committee that, owing to the expense involved, the proposal could not be entertained, but to suggest in lieu thereof subsidising one or more trainee district nurses.

We also quote a newspaper article which appeared the next day, headed “Proposed Cottage Hospital”:-

“Chairman (C.H. Cranby) reported that the Committee appointed by the Trustees had met representatives of the Hastings Seddon Memorial Committee, and had discussed the proposal to establish a branch hospital at Hastings.  The meeting had resolved to submit the following questions to the Trustees: – “If sufficient money is subscribed by the people of Hastings and surrounding districts, for the purpose of building a cottage hospital in Hastings, will the Board of Trustees accept the responsibility of the building, maintaining and management thereof?”

Discussion of probable cost of maintenance, during which the Chairman stated a hospital at Hastings would have as many patients as the one at Waipukurau, and the latter had cost £2782.

Mr. Eagleton moved: –  “That this Board do not view favourably suggestion to establish a branch hospital at Hastings, but will consider suggestion for upkeep of a cottage hospital should Hastings committee be able to collect sufficient money to erect and equip one.”

Page 2

Mr. Thompson said the position was a simple one.  If the Board would take over the cottage hospital they would erect one; if not they would drop the scheme altogether and devote the money to some other form of memorial.  As stated at the joint Committee meeting the doctors at Hastings were prepared to give their services free.

Mr. McGrath thought the Trustees should tell the people of Hastings whether or not they (the Trustees) were in a position to take over the cottage hospital, and in his opinion they were not.  It would be no use telling the Committee to come back again, which would be the effect of the resolution.

Mr. Fielder also objected to the motion, and thought that the Board should say straight out that the Board was not in favour of a cottage hospital.”


Instead of that he would advocate subsidising district nurses and providing a proper ambulance.

Mr. Moeller moved the following amendment:- ”That owing to the expense of maintaining a cottage hospital, this Board regret that they are unable to undertake the management thereof, but suggest that a district nurse or nurses be subsidised in view of a cottage hospital, and that this Board will assist in providing the subsidy’.

The voting for the amendment being the Chairman (C.H. Cranby) and 3 members
(Fielder, McGrath, Moeller) against 3 members (Eagleton, Thompson, Spence.), it was carried 4 – 3.”

Nothing more was now heard of a hospital at Hastings till 1910.


Meanwhile we may note the following, from the meeting of the Hospital Trustees of Monday, 15th June, 1908.

“Hastings Borough Council wrote that in view of the circumstances in connection with the death of Michael Kirby, the Trustees should provide an ambulance for the conveyance of persons from there to the hospital.  Mr. A.E. Eagleton said the system in Napier was for the Borough Council to charge 10/- for use of ambulance in each case.  Where a person was unable to pay anything at all, half the fee was collected from the Charitable Aid Board.

“The Hastings Borough Council to be informed that the Trustees were prepared to treat Hastings patients on the same system as that adopted in Napier.”

Further developments in this matter of an ambulance for Hastings and question of a District Nurse – both of which proposals took some years to come to fruition – are dealt with in separate APPENDICES.

Page 3


The Casualty Ward Proposal, 1910-11

Such was the form in which it was to be presented to the Hospital Board in 1910, but for the preliminary meetings in Hastings the wording “Cottage Hospital” was still used.

A Public Meeting

The first mention we can find of such meetings is in the “H.B. Herald” of Wednesday, 7th September, 1910, which announces: “A meeting is convened by the Mayoress, Mrs J.A. Miller, to be held in the Library Building at 3.30 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday), for the purpose of discussing the question of establishing a Cottage Hospital in Hastings (and also matters concerning Hospital Ball).”

A report of this duly appeared in the Herald of Friday the 9th, headed – “Meeting held in old Library Building, Hastings, on Thursday afternoon re Cottage Hospital and Hospital Ball.”

“The Mayor, Mr J.A. Miller, considered a cottage hospital was very necessary in Hastings.  Poor people could not afford to pay the fees charged in the private hospitals and in many cases patients were not able to stand the strain of transport to Napier.”  A cottage hospital here could be used for cases where the patients were not able to afford private hospital treatment.  The upkeep of a four bed cottage hospital would cost between £500 and £600 a year, which could be worked under the control of the Hospital Board.  Many subscribed toward a cottage hospital would be sent to the Board to be subsidised by the Government by 24/- in the £, and sent to the Hastings management – thus £250 subscribed would mean an amount of £550 a year.  The Hastings doctors had offered their services free, (see page two) and he thought the time had arrived for a start to be made.

Suggestion Re Board Maintaining Patients in Hastings Private Hospitals

Dr De Lisle agreed that a cottage hospital was wanted in Hastings, and pointed out the disadvantages of having to be patients to Napier.  “It was well known, he said, that the fewer the beds the greater the cost of upkeep in proportion.”  He thought the proprietors of the private hospitals in Hastings might be approached as to what charge they would make for setting aside a certain number of beds.

The Mayor said that the proposition had been before the Hospital Board, who approved of the idea, but did not think they had any legal right to act in that way. The Board would assist, but could not subsidise moneys under those circumstances.

Mr H.I. Simson said an offer had been made by one of the nursing homes, and he thought it a splendid idea if they did not lose the Government subsidy.  He suggested that a ball be held, the proceeds to be sent to the Board so as to obtain the subsidy, the total to be placed to the credit of a fund to establish a cottage hospital.

In the meantime he thought something could be done on the lines suggested by Dr de Lisle.

Dr Barcroft stated that an offer had been made by a private hospital in Hastings to maintain six beds at a charge of £634 4 per annum.

On the motion of Drs Wilson and de Lisle it was decided that the Hospital Board be asked to assist in the paying for patients in private hospitals where necessary.

Page 4

(By September 30 such a scheme was evidently in operation, as in the Herald of that date we note: –

“Report adopted by the H. B. Hospital and Charitable Aid Board: …That payment, if the charges be reasonable, be made for a patient sent to Nurse Nairn’s hospital”.

In referring to the private hospital proposal “Dr. Williams considered that each case should be taken on its merits”.  Going on to the cottage hospital he said that “Hastings was entitled to such an establishment, so he hoped the movement would not stop even if opposed by the Board, but that the agitation would be kept up against all opposition”. (Which was done).


The Mayor explained that Mr. W.Y. Dennett (ex-Mayor) had a sum of about £51 in hand from the Indian Famine Fund, which he was willing to agree to devote towards the cottage hospital. (First record of actual moneys for purpose.)  He thought that with that amount, a ball and a collection at show time, they would have no difficulty in raising £550 for the first year.

On the motion of Mr. Simson, seconded by Dr. de Lisle, it was decided that a fund be started for the purpose of establishing a cottage hospital in Hastings, to be worked in conjunction with the Napier Hospital.

The Mayoress was appointed Treasurer to the fund.

On the motion of Mesdames Roach and Keith, it was decided to hold a plain and fancy dress ball towards the end of the month, the proceeds to be handed to the Napier Hospital Board on the understanding that the amount be refunded, together with the Government subsidy, if a cottage hospital is to be established in Hastings.

On Tuesday, 27th September, a ball was duly announced for next Thursday in the Drill Hall, and on 30th September we note that it was duly held, there being 70 couples, while a juvenile ball was to be held on the Friday.  We can find no mention of the amount raised.


A joint committee was appointed with power to add: –

Mesdames J.A. Miller, W. Shrimpton, H.I. Simson, J. Garnett, G.F. Roach, de Lisle, Macassey, Barcroft, Nairn, Keith, Watson, Horton, G. Ebbett, Foster, Richmond, Cronin, Reston, Douglas, Murray, N.E. Beamish, A.M. McLean, McKibbin, J.C. Scott, J.H. Williams, T.H. Lowry, E. Newbiggin [ Newbigin ], A.J. Ellingham; Misses, Evans, Mason, Maddison, O’Reilly;  Messrs. J.A. Miller, V. Shrimpton, H.I. Simson, J. Garnett, Mason Chambers; Drs. Wilson, Barcroft, McKibbin, de Lisle, Nairn and Tosswill.  Messrs. J. Salmon, and F.C. Hartshorn were appointed joint secretaries.


Meanwhile, on the 28th September, there appeared in the Herald a letter which had been received by the Mayor of Hastings, Mr. J.A. Miller, from Mr. G.P. Donnelley : –

Page 5

“I was very pleased to read in the newspapers that the proposal to establish a cottage hospital at Hastings has again been discussed.  This proposal was one that the late Mrs. Donnelley took a great interest in, and we suggested to Dr. Barcroft some three or four years ago that a cottage hospital at Hastings was very urgently required both for natives and Europeans.  We then offered to present a site for the proposed building.  Should this proposition now be given effect to, I am prepared to give an acre of ground situated at the corner of Southampton Street and Karamu Road, Hastings, or if the site is not accepted will give £500 on condition that five other subscriptions of £500 and five of £250 are given. In making this offer, I am only carrying out the oft expressed wish of the late Mrs. Donnelley that something be done toward dispensing with the delay and tedious journey to Napier Hospital for persons meeting with accidents in Hastings and surrounding district.  There is a large native population in and around Hastings, and in formulating your scheme I would express a wish that the natives be remembered.

I would like to see a native nurse stationed at the hospital, under the discipline of the Hospital authorities, for the purpose of visiting and attending the sick natives in their homes and instructing them in the care and feeding of children.

Hoping that this offer will be an incentive for others to subscribe and therefore ensure a cottage hospital being established in Hastings.”

(The ultimate appointment of a Maori District Nurse is dealt with in the APPENDIX on District Nurses).


Mr. Donnelley’s offer came up again in November of the same year, when the Herald notes:

“A meeting of those interested in the promotion of a casualty ward in Hastings was held in the old Library on Monday evening (21st November).  Eight persons attended and the Mayor, Mr. J.A. Miller, presided.  The Mayor stated that he had talked the matter over with members of the Hospital Board, and he was satisfied that if Hastings found the land and raised funds for building the hospital, the Board would provide for its upkeep.

An offer of an acre of land at the corner of Southampton Street and Karamu Road had been made, or if the site were not accepted the sum of £500 would be provided if 5 other donations of £500 and 5 of £250 were given.

Dr. Wilson suggested that it would probably be better for a deputation to wait on the Hospital Board and ascertain whether in the event of a sum of money sufficient to purchase a site and build a casualty hospital in Hastings be raised, would they take charge of it and provide the upkeep.  He thought that if they got a definite statement from the Board they would then be in a better position to canvass the district.

The suggestion was adopted, and it was decided that the deputation consist of members of the Borough Council, Chamber of Commerce, Plunket Nurse Society, friendly societies, clergymen, doctors, and other citizens interested.”

Accordingly at a meeting of the Hastings Borough Council on December 1st Councillors Hart and Mason were appointed as representatives of the Council on the deputation to the Hospital Board re the establishment of a casualty hospital.”

Page 6

On the day the deputation was to meet the Board, – Monday, 12th December – the Herald noted that “Drs. Wilson, Barcroft, de Lisle and Storey, the Very Rev. Father Keogh, Rev. P. Ramsay, Messrs. G.P. Donnelley, M. Mason, E.H. Williams, W. Hart, F.C. Hartshorn, and W. Taylor have been appointed a deputation to wait on the Hospital Board to ascertain whether in the event of a casualty hospital being established in Hastings by public subscription and handed over to the Board, they would maintain it.  In the event of the Board’s decision being favourable, the hospital will consist of 4 beds and will be built so as to allow additions to be made.  Roughly £1000 is estimated as the cost of the proposed building and furniture.


On Monday, 12th December, 1910, the deputation, noted in the Board’s minutes as consisting of Messrs. E.H. Williams, M. Mason, W. Hart, and Drs. H.M. Wilson and Barcroft, duly met the Board which decided: –

“That the whole Board form itself into a Committee and that a special meeting be held to consider the question of maintaining a Casualty Ward at Hastings.”

A full report of the proceedings appears in the Herald of the next day.  As the main lines of many of the arguments later to be used can be found therein and a clear indication of the attitude of the Board to the idea is given, we quote the report in full: –

“A deputation composed of Messrs E.H. Williams, M. Mason, W. Hart and Drs. Barcroft, Wilson, Storey and de Lisle appeared before the Hawke’s Bay Hospital and Charitable Aid Board yesterday to urge upon the board the necessity of erecting a cottage hospital at Hastings.

Mr. Williams said that the deputation had come before the board on behalf of the citizens of Hastings, and explained the reason for their visit.  Mr. Donnelley had, he said, generously offered the Hastings citizens an acre of land on condition that they should raise the money to erect a building.  The deputation had come there to ask whether if the Hastings people raised £1000 to erect a building and furnish it as a casualty ward, the Board would run and maintain it in the future.  They wished to have the building erected in such a way that additions could be made to it when required without spoiling the building.  He did not think that it would be very long before further accommodation would be required – Hastings was a growing place, and unfortunately where people gathered together a certain number of accidents must occur.  It was, he considered, a dreadful drawback to Hastings to send accident cases as far as the Napier Hospital.  He asked that, provided the Board had the power, the request of the Hastings people should be favourably entertained.

Dr. Wilson said that the idea was not to erect a hospital, but a casualty ward for dealing with accidents in the Hastings district, or with any acute cases that might occur there.  He had not been in Hastings very long, but yet had had several cases which should not have been sent in so far as Napier.  Some accommodation should be provided in Hastings to deal with such cases.  It had to be remembered that Hastings was not a small place.  It was a place that was growing and one that would drain a very rich area of country, and he thought that all the people in the district should have more hospital accommodation than they had at present.

Page 7

The Chairman (Mr. W. Shrimpton) asked whether the deputation had drawn up plans.

Mr. Williams: “No; we wish to get the idea approved and then we could draw up plans”.

The Chairman said that he would like to have some definite idea of what would be required in order that the Board could deal with the question of maintenance.

Mr. H. Ian Simson moved that the whole board be formed into a committee to go into the matter.

The Chairman agreed that this would be the best suggestion to follow as four members of the board were not present.

Mr. C.H. Cranby asked whether the proposed building was intended for residents of Hastings or for the whole district.

Mr. Williams said that it would be for anyone in the district.

The Chairman said he understood that it was not intended to be a hospital, but merely a branch of the Napier hospital.

Dr. Wilson said he thought that four male beds would be required in addition to female requirements.

The Chairman said he did not think Hastings would have sufficient casualty cases to demand more than two beds.  He suggested that whatever arrangement was made, it should only be for immediate requirements, as it was a question of maintenance that the Board had to consider.

Mr. J.S. Large said Nurse Nairn’s hospital was used in such cases as those referred to. (c.p. on 6th January, 1911, there is a note that a severe accident case was taken to Nurse Nairn’s hospital in Hastings.  He suggested that some arrangement could be made with Nurse Nairn.

Mr. C.H. Cranby seconded Mr. Simson’s motion.  When he had been Chairman of the Board they had received a similar deputation.  The Board had then carefully gone into the question and decided that it would be advisable to put a hospital at Hastings.  In any case the board would have to get the approval of the Inspector General (i.e. of the Health Department).  He was afraid that it was only a suggestion to establish a hospital at Hastings.  The Hawke’s Bay district had been put to a great expense putting up one of the finest hospitals in the Dominion and at the special meeting he would certainly have to raise an objection to the proposal made by the deputation.  He quite realised that Hastings required and were entitled to consideration, but he considered that it would be quite as easy to remove patients to the Napier Hospital as it would be to deal with them at Hastings.  He said that the annual levy contributed by Hastings was £304, and it appeared to him that it would cost £300 to £400 to run the proposed casualty ward there, and still the bulk of the patients would come into Napier.

The motion was put to the meeting and carried.

Mr. Williams said that he wished to thank the board for having received the deputation.  He was quite sure that the question would be considered in no

Page 8

narrow local spirit, but in a spirit of responsibility to the whole district. The amount referred to by Mr. Cranby was, he said, only what was paid to (and thence by) the Hastings Borough Council, and not taking into account all the people outside Hastings.

The deputation then withdrew.


On the special meeting being held on Monday, 13th February, 1911, Mr. J.A. Miller having asked if a site were provided at Hastings and a hospital fully equipped – suggesting not more than 4 beds – would the Board take them over, more particularly as to upkeep etc. This information was desired before the Board committed itself.  The matter was therefore deferred for a month.

We also quote in full the newspaper report which appeared the next day: –

“At yesterday’s meeting of the Napier (sic.) Hospital and Charitable Aid Board a proposal to establish a casualty ward at Hastings as a branch of the Napier Hospital was discussed.

Mr. J.A. Miller said that for some time past the need had been felt of having a casualty hospital in Hastings, as accidents sometimes happened which required hospital treatment and which, owing to their nature, were difficult of removal to Napier.  A gentleman in Hastings had offered a section as a site for a cottage ward, and the money could be raised for the building by subscription.  It was thought that if the people of Hastings gave the board a properly equipped building the board could take it up and the expense of conducting it.  The hospital need not contain more than two wards, with two beds in each ward, and the necessary living rooms.  What the upkeep would amount to was difficult to estimate, but the board should have a good idea of the probable cost.

Mr. Garnett seconded the proposal, saying he was quite in sympathy with the idea, but desired to have fuller particulars laid before the board before it committed itself.

Mr. W. Shrimpton, the Chairman, said that £300 a year would be the least amount for nurses’ salaries, and Dr. Valintine (i.e. the Director-General of Health) established them at £500.  Another question was, what cases the hospital would refuse.  It was difficult to decide what was a casualty case.  The hospital would have to grow, and it might have to make provision for a dozen cases.  The cost of maintenance would have to be borne by the board at present, but later it could be charged to the rates.  Dr. Valintine had written to him saying that such an institution would have to grow and that later the authorities would have the usual application asking that Hastings be made a hospital district, which would have to be declined.  It would be better to have a well equipped ambulance station at Hastings.

Mr. H.I. Simson said he sympathised with the project, but thought that fuller information regarding the cost of upkeep should be supplied so that the board could better discuss the matters.  He moved that the matter be adjourned until next meeting of the board.

The Chairman agreed and said that meantime he would enquire into the cost and get particulars, discussion the subject would be deferred till next meeting.

Page 9


On the matter coming up again at the March meeting, it was deferred for “six months”, while the Chairman gave notice of motion: “That the time has arrived for the establishment of a motor ambulance to be kept in Hastings.”

The end of six months found the question still deferred, apparently, for no mention can be found of the hospital.

Page 10


The Proposal Revived

1913 – 14


It was not till two years later that the question of a Hastings Hospital again came up, the impelling cause being discontent at the large and growing levy paid by Hastings to support Napier Hospital; it being considered that Hastings should receive more for its money.

At the meeting of the Hastings Borough Council on May 20th, 1913, notification was received from the H.B. Hospital and Charitable Aid Board “that the levy due by the Council was £820”, asking “for the first half yearly instalment of £410.  Several councillors remarked upon the fact that the levy was getting larger each year, and suggested that something should be done in the direction of having a hospital at Hastings.
Cr.  McKibbin agreed that the amount paid by Hastings was large, and that Hastings was not receiving the treatment it should receive.  He suggested that the authorities be asked to do more for Hastings.

The letter was referred to the Finance Committee to consider ways and means of raising the amount asked for.

The Mayor (Mr. William Hart, then just elected) was appointed the Council’s representative on the Hospital Board.


A few days after, a letter was received by the Hastings Borough Council from Mr. A.A. George, who, to give the matter publicity desired, through the Hastings representative on the Charitable Aid Board, to raise the question of the case of a Hastings employer of labour with wife and other relatives debarred from Napier Hospital and went on to ask: –

“What do the burgesses get for their money?  We pay £860 or thereabouts in rates directly, from £200 to £400 in levies a year for new buildings, and £700 or £800 in voluntary contributions.  (In 1911 the Hospital Ball in Hastings raised £70 – £260 with subsidy – in 1912 something less, while Hospital Saturday in Hastings that year brought over £173.  In 1913 the Hospital Saturday yielded £172.  We may note that Napier Hospital expenditure returns given in April 1913 come to an annual figure of £16,676.  These would appear to be other sources of voluntary contributions from Hastings to account for £700 or £800)  If all burgesses have to pay a compulsory levy through the councils, why not equal rights?”

The Council’s representative, Mr. Hart, duly brought the letter up, just as its appearance in the newspaper was being remarked on and further particulars desired, at the June meeting of the Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, whereupon: –

Page 11

Mr. Miller said he understood that under the rules of the hospital, the poor were supposed to be admitted first.

The chairman said it was very hard to define who was and who was not to be admitted.  The general rule was to admit anyone if there was room.  He wished the board could define who was entitled to be admitted.

Mr. Hill – The rules clearly state that the poor have the first claim to admittance.

The Chairman – the poor are always considered first:  always have been during the time that I have been connected with the hospital.

The Hastings Borough Council’s reply to Mr. A.A. George was not found satisfactory by the latter, who stated that he had been credibly informed that it was one of the Hospital Board’s regulations that employers of labour were not to be admitted.

The issue was then apparently let drop.


The H.B. Herald of 18th July mentions a smallpox outbreak in Hastings, and the 7th August meeting of the Hastings Borough Council received correspondence from the Hospital Board, “asking the Council to allow the borough inspector to attend to and inspect any cases of infectious disease in Hastings, as their inspector was engaged in special duty in collection with smallpox.”

We mention the matter in passing, though we cannot trace any direct influence on the progress of the hospital idea, this epidemic, coming so soon after the re-awakening of the Hastings hospital question over levies, may just possibly have had something to do with what followed.


On the 28th August, “about 40 people attended a public meeting held in the Municipal Chambers for the purpose of considering the question of establishing a district hospital at Hastings.  The Mayor (Mr. W. Hart) presided.

The Chairman stated that some three years ago, a deputation from Hastings waited upon the Hospital Board and urged the establishment of a cottage hospital at Hastings.  The request was not granted, and he had called this meeting in response to a petition asking him to do so.  It had been said that the people of Hastings received no benefits for money they paid towards the upkeep of the Napier Hospital.  This statement was not correct, as many people from Hastings went to the Napier Hospital, and he assured the meeting that the hospital authorities were endeavouring to do all they could for the whole of the hospital rating district.  However, Hastings and the surrounding districts had a population of over 10,000 and he hoped that any decision arrived by the meeting would be practicable.

Mr T. Clarkson expressed the opinion that there should be some kind of a hospital at Hastings capable of meeting any urgent cases that may arise.  In many cases the loss of time in taking people to Napier was detrimental, and sometimes would be sure to be fatal.

Page 12

He moved: “That this meeting is strongly of opinion that Hastings needs and is entitled to, the facilities of a cottage hospital, and is entirely dissatisfied with a state of affairs whereby urgent cases have to be sent to Napier for treatment”.

Mr. S. Martell thought that the suggested hospital should be situated on the Havelock Hills, not in Hastings.  He was certainly in favour of establishing a hospital in the district somewhere near Hastings.

Dr. McKibbin, speaking on behalf of the Hastings members of the medical profession, said that they favoured the establishment of a hospital at Hastings for urgent cases, and the suggestion would receive their absolute support.  As to the situation, he said that it was usual to have the hospital in the centre of the town.

Mr. E.H. Williams thought that before carrying any resolution it would be as well to appoint a committee to go carefully into details and collect data.  He moved as an amendment: “That while sympathising with the motion in favour of the establishment of a cottage hospital in Hastings, this meeting is of opinion that a committee should first be set up to obtain full information on the subject and report to a future meeting to be called, such committee to consist of the Mayor, the members of the Borough Council and the medical practitioners of the town, with power to add to their number”.

Dr. Boxer said he had made enquiries and found that roughly about one third of the patients at the Napier Hospital came from Hastings.

Dr. Nairn said that the Napier Hospital was a fairly well equipped hospital, but if it had more money it could be better equipped.  If a hospital was established at Hastings it must mean that the Napier institution will suffer financially.  It seemed to him that the matter was being gone about in a most extravagant way.

On being put to the meeting this amendment was lost and the motion carried.”

The Formation of the Hastings Hospital Association

Mr. E. Stevenson moved: “That this meeting form itself into an organisation to be known as the Hastings Hospital Association, having for its object the securing of better hospital facilities for the public of Hastings and district.”

The motion was seconded by Mr. T. Donovan and carried.

On the motion of Messrs. Martell and Stevenson; Drs. Stor(e)y, McKibbin and Boxer; Messrs. E.H. Williams, T. Clarkson, H.A. Mossman, E. Stevenson, A.L.D. Fraser, J.T. Blake, W.C. Whitlock, S. Martell and T. Donovan were appointed to a committee (5 to form a quorum) to give effect to the foregoing resolution, and to collect data before interviewing the Hospital Board.


This committee held a meeting in the old Library Building on September 4, there being present Mrs E.H. Williams (Chairman), H.W. the Mayor (Mr. W. Hart), Dr. Boxer, Messrs E.A. Mossman, T. Donovan, A.L.D. Fraser, E. Stevenson, W.C. Whitlock, T. Clarkson and J.T. Blake.

Page 13

Mr. Clarkson, convener of the meeting, reported that on the suggestion of Mr. E.H. Williams, he had written to the Napier Hospital Board (sic.) asking for an appointment for a deputation to wait upon the Board next Monday, and he read a reply received from the Board agreeing to receive the deputation on the date mentioned.

A very full discussion took place in regard to suitable sites, the scope of the proposed hospital, and other aspects of the question and a resolution was carried: “That the Napier Hospital Board be asked to place a sum on the estimates for the present year for the erection of a cottage hospital in Hastings, with accommodation for 12 beds”.  Messrs E.H. Williams, H.A. Mossman, T. Clarkson and A.L.D. Fraser were appointed the deputation.


The deputation duly waited on the Hospital Board at its meeting of 8th September “with a request to establish a twelve bed hospital at Hastings to deal with emergency cases.  They suggested the appointment of a committee of the Board to meet a sub-committee of their association to consider the matter.

It was decided: “That a Committee (Messrs. Shrimpton, Chambers, Hart, Miller and Cranby) be set up to confer with a Committee of the Hastings Hospital Association at an early date and report to the next meeting of the Board.

A full report appeared in the Herald next day:  we quote portions: “Mr. Williams said that the Hastings people had no animosity in the matter.  They recognised that Mr. Shrimpton and his fellow members had done more for hospital work than the people could ever repay.  At the outset the Napier Hospital was a very small affair, but as time progressed, the development of the district had called for continued enlargement, and the hospital was now one of the best equipped and best managed in the Dominion.  Cases occurred in Hastings in which immediate relief was required, and it was not always wise to bring such cases a distance of over 12 miles to the hospital.  The desire of the deputation was to ask the Board to appoint a committee to investigate the matter and confer with a committee of the Hospital Association. … They suggested… the establishment of a cottage hospital with 12 beds to deal with accidents and other necesssitous cases.  A few years ago the population in and around Hastings was small, … now 10,000 and that being so, the time must come when the extension of the hospital facilities must be agreed to.  Mr. Williams suggested that the time had already come.

The question was raised about three years ago, when it was felt that the time was not opportune, but that the matter would have to be dealt with in a few years.  If a committee was set up the Hospital Association’s committee would undertake to supply all the necessary information with reference to the site and the cost of erecting the building.  Any further information that would assist the Board to arrive at a decision would be cheerfully given.

Mr. Williams asked the Board to treat the matter seriously and not to think that the request was made without full responsibility on the part of the Hastings people, who recognised that a large amount of money will be required.

Mr. Fraser expressed the admiration of the people of Hastings for the admirable way in which the Board had been conducted.  The people admired the clients of Napier and the Parade, but they lift their hats to the hospital.  (Not very relevant, but too good to leave out.  It might be thought that

Page 14

the deputation was the thin edge of parochialism, but it was not.  They hoped to be under the same administration for many years to come.  Mr. Fraser felt that if generous consideration was given to the matter it would open the hearts of the people of Hastings and would also open their pockets.  If the request was responded to, it would perhaps add one more monument to the good work of the Board.

The Chairman thanked the deputation for their courteous and generous remarks.  He thought the request was a very moderate one, in that all that was asked for was that a committee should be set up.  The Board would no doubt set up a committee to meet the deputation, which so worthily represented the cause.

We have underlined Mr. Fraser’s remarks re remaining under the same administration for many years to come.  It will be recalled (p. 9) that Dr. Valintine, the Director-General of Health, had earlier objected to the proposal on the score that “later the authorities would have the usual application asking that Hastings be made a hospital district., which would have to be declined”

The history of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board shows a long record of the establishment of subsidiary hospitals, as Wairoa, with later break-aways.  Some of the fragments, as in the case of Dannevirke, even split again (from Waipukurau 1924). The policy of the Department was hardening towards such subdivision, in favour of large, well-equipped, central institutions.  An impelling reason was probably the greater development of specialisation and technical services.  When the Hastings Hospital became an accomplished fact, the usual struggle between the new and the parent institution was finally resolved, on the administrative side, by the part absorbing the whole.  The next speaker’s remarks show how much this side of the question was present in everybody’s minds.

Mr. Hart, who called the meeting of citizens in Hastings, said he had board statements made suggesting the separation of Hastings from Napier, but the meeting showed that level headed business people were looking for something more practicable.

Mr. Chambers said the idea of a hospital in Hastings met with his approval, but he hoped that it would not mean the separation of the districts.

Mr. Shrimpton … felt certain that a more satisfactory arrangement would be arrived at.

On the 30th October the Herald mentioned that the question of erecting a hospital at Hastings had been deferred two months pending further information.


On 5th November we have the following explanation of the delay: “It appears that prior to the recent meeting between representatives of the Hastings Hospital Association and the Napier Hospital Board, in reference to the proposal to erect a cottage hospital at Hastings, the Board had issued circulars to the medical practitioners here asking them how many cases had come under their notice in which persons’ lives had been endangered, or how many persons had been inconvenienced or suffered owing to their being no hospital at Hastings.

Page 15


The Committee duly arranged the canvass at its meeting of 7th November, when it was “explained that as a result of the conference with representatives of the Hospital Board, it had been agreed to adjourn the proceedings two months with a view to the committee supplying the Board with evidence of the necessity for a cottage hospital and (2) of their ability to assist in its finance.”  This meeting was the first attempt to collect the data.  At a conference at Hastings, it was also suggested that the Board immediately acquire a site on shingle, and within a mile of the post office, and the representatives of the Board, he thought would not oppose this idea, because land was on the rise in Hastings.

The following resolutions were carried: (1) To draft a series of questions to be forwarded to the medical men for their consideration and to make arrangements for the whole committee to interview them so as to receive their replies.  (2)  To ask the Hospital Board to supply a return of the number and nature of the cases that went into Napier Hospital from Hastings during the past 12 months, and a return of payments made by the Board for motor-cars used as ambulances from Hastings.  (3)  Previous to making a house-to-house canvass of Hastings, Havelock, Paki Paki, Omahu and Tomoana to obtain the people’s views on the subject, the sub-committee prepare a list of questions to be submitted to the householders through the newspapers, requesting them to forward their replies to the secretary, Mr. T. Clarkson, in a space to be provided for that purpose.

The Hospital Board at its meeting of 9th November, 1913, received report of meeting held 28th October from the Committee appointed to confer with the Committee of the Hastings Hospital Association, but no details or comment are given.

The Herald of 10th November mentioned that Dr. McKibbin favoured the establishment of a cottage hospital at Hastings, he having made a statement to that affect.  We shall soon meet him again.


The Hastings Operatic Society was approached by the Hastings Hospital Association on 17th November to give a performance of “San Toy” in aid of the cottage hospital.  The Friendly Societies were asked to support the performance, which was held on November 21 and £91 17s. 6d. later handed to the Hospital Association out of total receipts of nearly £100, almost every service being free.


On the 12th December there was held a meeting of the committee of the Hastings Cottage Hospital Association, there being present Messrs.  E.H. Williams (Chairman), W. Hart, W.C. Whitlock, S. Martell, A. Wade, J.T. Blake, T. Donovan, A.L.D. Fraser, H.A. Mossman and T. Clarkson.  Drs. T. McKibbin, Macdonell, Boxer, Storey, Tosswill and Wilson were also present.

In reply to questions forwarded to the various doctors the following reply was received: –

“It is our opinion that an answer to each of the questions asked involved too much work.  A general synopsis of the position would help more.  It was

Page 16

determined that there were, as far as the eight practitioners here were concerned some 20 to 25 cases in the year that provision ought to be made for in Hastings.  We want it to be definitely understood that the 20 to 25 cases come under the head of what we call hospital cases in the broad sense of the word, and who were too ill to be moved to Napier on account of distance and who cannot afford private hospitals or nursing in their own homes.  The list does not include cases that can be moved to Napier without detriment, or those who cannot afford private hospitals or nursing in their own homes.  The list does not includes cases that can be moved to Napier without detriment, or those who could be moved, but who prefer to stop in Hastings.  Adequate arrangements are made in Napier for the first cases, but no provision is made for the former 20 to 25.  For dealing with those and other cases in the town we consider that an up-to-date commodious motor ambulance is an absolute necessity.  Arrangements should be made to treat these patients efficiently and economically and to meet this there are two schemes – namely: –

(a)    A cottage hospital:

(b)    Paying the fees of such patients in a private hospital where they would be under the supervision of the Hospital Board and looked after by their own medical attendant.  In order to effect this the Hospital Board would have to organise the scheme.  The cost of the cottage hospital, as worked out by the Hospital Board is £1200 to £1500 per annum.  This is apart from the capital cost, and allows for 10 to 12 beds or less in constant use.  Any reduction in the number of patients would affect the cost of provisions and drugs, but not the staff as outlined in their estimates to you.  We think that the tendency would be for the full number of beds to be occupied and that by many cases who could be well treated in Napier and that the annual cost would tend to gradually mount up and up.  We find that the Hospital Board could make arrangements with private hospitals for £2 head per week, and then a fair estimate of their stay in hospital would be four and a half weeks (the average treatment in Napier is 34 days.  There a big chronic ward increases the length of treatment.  Here probably four weeks or under would be nearer the mark.  How, if there are 20 to 25 cases to be provided for for 4½ weeks at £2 per week the cost would be £180 to £225.  The cost of drugs and dressings in the Napier Hospital varies from 5/- to 15/-, as if we allow £1 per case it ought to cover, thus bringing the total cost up to £200 to £250 per annum.  We consider that a resident surgeon for a 10 to 12 bed hospital would not be necessary.

The local men would attend all necessitous cases free, but would not extend this consideration to those able to pay and are not what we call hospital cases; in other words, our services would be free to the poor.  We should be pleased to meet your committee and discuss these matters.

Signed:  H.M. Wilson, B.S. Storey, J.C. Tosswill, R. Nairn, J.A. Macdonell, S. de Lisle, E. Boxer, P.J. Barcroft.

Dr. McKibbin, who did not sign the letter forwarded by the other doctors, said he attended a meeting of the doctors, and the number of patients which they considered were eligible to attend a cottage hospital varied, each doctor mentioning about 3 or 4 cases.  Dr. McKibbin said he did not have such a large practice as some of the doctors who had signed the letter, but in spite of that fact, he found that during the 12 months ending November 18th, 1913, he knew of at least 25 cases.  Since November 18th he had sent 2 patients to Nurse O’Callagan’s [ O’Callaghan ] private hospital when he considered eligible for a cottage hospital.

The whole question, of course, depended on how one bases one’s opinion.  He quite agreed that many patients could afford to pay something, but not £4 4s. per week in nursing fees in addition to doctor’s fees.  He considered

Page 17

that the Hospital Board should provide the necessaries and trained nurses.  For a cottage hospital there was a large discrepancy between his figures and the figures of the other doctors.  He considered the time had arrived when Hastings should have a cottage hospital.

The other doctors present verbally stated their opinions.  They freely answered the various questions put to them and said that whatever scheme was eventually decided upon, they would give their support if they considered it necessary.

At a meeting of the Committee held on 3rd February, 1914, “Dr. Boxer entered a protest again the manner in which the report of the majority of the doctors had been received at the last meeting.”  This protest was held over till the next meeting, and did not finally see the light of day till Dr. Boxer raised it once again at the meeting of 12th May, when it appeared that it was Dr. McKibbin’s statements when this report was being presented which had caused the annoyance, his being heard apparently being taken as the acceptance of a minority report. The Chairman pointed out that he was not, at that meeting, prepared to prevent Dr. McKibbin from speaking.  Dr. McKibbin, as one of the Committee, had a right to give his opinion, which he did.  He admitted that both Dr. Storey and Dr. Boxer subsequently withdrew while the majority report was being discussed, but there was no minority report handed to the meeting, as Dr. McKibbin had not put anything into writing.  There the matter seems to have ended.


Mr. Donovan stated that Mr. W.Y. Dennett, when Mayor of Hastings, held a sum of £55, 15s. 10d. Which was collected for the Indian Famine Fund.  Mr. Dennett had been approached on the matter, and was willing to hand the money over to the cottage hospital fund.  Mention was also made of the £91 17s 6d. for “San Toy”.  (This would mean a total of £148 13s. 4d.)

It was decided that the Mayor and the Chairman be appointed trustees of the fund and a sub-committee was appointed to draw up the questions to be submitted to the public.


These questions, as presented in the Herald of 10th January, 1914 were: –

(1)  Have you at any time during the last 12 months suffered serious inconvenience or financial loss through there being no public hospital at Hastings.  If so, state the facts briefly.

(2)  Do you consider that if existing private hospitals are by subsidy from the Board, made available for urgent cases in poor circumstances, this fact will render the establishment of a cottage hospital unnecessary in the meantime.

It is requested that the answers to these questions be forwarded to Mr. T. Clarkson, Box 195, secretary of the Hastings Hospital Association.  The name of those forwarding information will not be made public.  It is pointed out that this information is necessary in view of the demand of the H.B. Hospital Board for further evidence.

Page 18

At the next meeting of the Hastings Hospital Committee on February 3rd, only Mr. A.L.D. Fraser (in Chair), Dr. Boxer and Messrs. Whitlock, Clarkson and Blake were present, and it was therefore decided to defer reading replies to the advertisement in the papers.

Judging by the following, it appears that there was also not very many replies present: –

Messrs. Donovan and Wade had offered to supply canvassers for the purpose of finding whether it was desired that a cottage hospital be established in Hastings.  Owing to the small number of replies received in answer to the advertisement, it was decided to accept the offer…, when the same questions would be submitted as those already advertised.

However, at the meeting of 12th May, Mr. Donovan pointed out the difficulty he had of getting replies to the answers asked for when canvassing” and it was thereupon decided to get further information from doctors and others and wait until they could present a strong case before they again approached the Board, relations with which, as we shall see presently, had not meanwhile been bettered.

More Additions to Funds

The Motor Cycle Sports had added £40 to the Funds and the Club was willing to get up another meeting for the same purpose.  (This would bring the total towards the £200 mark – nearly £190).


The funds were now beginning to take on some substance, and adding thereto was therefore becoming an important concern.

When the question of Hospital Saturday, the annual collection for the funds of the Napier Hospital held in both Napier and Hastings and district of the H.B. Hospital Board in general came up at the 16th March meeting of the Hastings Borough Council, the Mayor, Mr. W. Hart, stated that he considered it advisable “to hold a Hospital Saturday collection on the 21st inst., on the condition that one-half of the amount collected will go towards the funds of the cottage hospital in Hastings, and the other half to the Napier Hospital”. A small committee was appointed to arrange details and by 19th March arrangements had been completed accordingly.

This was evidently going a little too far, for the Herald of 23rd March notes that: –

“The Mayor of Hastings… informed our representative that in consequence of the disagreement which had occurred over Hospital Saturday he deemed it wise to postpone until next Saturday the collection which was fixed for last Saturday.  It appears that the Chairman of the Hospital Board objected to any portion of the collection being devoted to the Hastings cottage hospital fund, and as the Hastings Mayor insisted on this, the Board’s Chairman refused to recognise the collection, even to the extent of refusing to forward the usual collection boxes.  In order to avoid anything in the nature of a fiasco, the Mayor therefore decided to postpone the collection and to put the matter in the hands of the public…A meeting of citizens has been convened for tonight, when it is hoped that a representative meeting… will decide the course of action to be taken.”

Page 19

This meeting was largely attended, many ladies being present.  We quote the proceedings practically in full, partly because the rights and wrongs seem a little too involved to take the responsibility of summarising.

“Mr. Hart (Mayor of Hastings)… explained the position and stated that after he returned from his holiday on the 25th inst. (evidently ult.) he called a meeting for the purpose of discussing the matter.  Then it was decided that a collection be taken up on the 21st inst., half the proceeds to go to the Napier Hospital and half to the Hastings Cottage Hospital.  He then discussed the matter with Mr. Shrimpton (Chairman of the H.B. Hospital Board).  On Tuesday (apparently 17th March) he rang Mr. Shrimpton up, but could get no reply.  On Wednesday he again rang up and was promised a reply on Thursday.  On Thursday he asked for the collection boxes, but was refused them.

He stated that there was no desire to hurt the Napier Hospital, but a cottage hospital was essential in Hastings and must be established.  Hastings might not be far from Napier, but there were the ‘surrounding districts’ to consider, such as Maraekakaho, which is a considerable distance from Napier.  The time had arrived when they should assert themselves, and take off the kids gloves and get a cottage hospital in the near future”.

The first real signal he got was a report of a meeting held in Napier of the H. B. Hospital and Charitable Aid Board to the effect that the Napier Board was not holding a collection in Hastings on Saturday.  He then called together a few of those interested, and decided not to have a collection on that date.  The matter was now in their hands.

Mr T. Clarkson congratulated the Mayor on the attitude he had taken, and was quite satisfied that the people of Hastings were in accord with him.  The Napier Hospital was one of the finest institutions in the Dominion, and no one grudges the taxes towards it.  It was unjust, however, that there should be no hospital in Hastings for the accommodation of the town.  There was about £200 in hand at present towards the funds of a cottage hospital.  They had been asked to supply more evidence than it was possible for them to do.  The people there were entitled to have a collection for a cottage hospital and he considered the Mayor more than fair when he offered the Napier Hospital half the proceeds.

He then moved the following resolution: “That this meeting approves of the action taken by the Mayor over the hospital collection, and in view of the refusal of the H. B. Hospital Board to accept half the net proceeds of such collection, the Mayor is now requested to arrange for a collection at an early date, the total proceeds to be devoted to the funds now in existence for the establishment of a cottage hospital in Hastings.”

Mr. J. Cassin seconded… and… stated that a cottage hospital in Hastings meant only a ward of the Napier Hospital.

Dr. McKibbin considered that the point was that it was the custom to have a collection on that day for the Napier Hospital, and that it was not fair to stop it.  There was nothing to prevent them from having a collection for a cottage hospital on some other day and he moved the following amendment: “That the H.B. Hospital Board be informed that we will give them every facility for a collection here, but that we also intend to make a collection for the cottage hospital.

Mr. W. Taylor… seconding amendment; said he considered it would be niggardly in the extreme to halve the collection.

Page 20

Mr. J.A. Miller said he felt in rather an awkward position, as he was in the confidence of both Mr. Shrimpton and the Mayor but Hastings required a hospital.  He admitted that the Mayor was under the impression that he would have a bigger collection by holding the two collections on the one day.  The whole matter lay in the fact that March 21st was set aside for the Napier collection and it should have been carried out.  It was understood that this was fixed, and it was unfair to have the two collections on one day.  There was nothing to prevent them from having a day for their own collections.

Mr. M. Johnson said that Mr. Miller had thrown a new light on the matter.

Mr. A. D. L. Fraser said they must look at the matter dispassionately and in a non-parochial manner.  The custom had been, from time immemorial, to hold a collection on that day, and no one had a right to interfere.  If a collection were taken up for both the subsidy would not be as great as if it were taken up for the Napier Hospital only.  A mistake had been made, but the intentions had been of the best.  It was not wise to strain relations too far with Napier.

Cr. Wade, in speaking to the resolution, said he did not see anything objectionable in it.  If they went with enough money to the H.B. Hospital Board, they could not refuse to build a cottage hospital.  The Mayor was to be congratulated on his attitude in the matter.  He considered the Chairman of the Board was lacking in tact in not meeting the first citizen of Hastings in a proper manner.

The amendment was put and lost and the motion carried.

Mr. Clarkson moved: “That the Chairman of the H. B. Hospital and Charitable Aid Board be informed that this meeting is in sympathy with his desire that a collection be taken up as usual in aid of the H.B. Hospital Board, and pledges itself to afford every facility for taking up this collection.”

Seconded by Dr. McKibbin and carried.

Cr. Wade moved: “That a collection be taken up in aid of the cottage hospital funds next Saturday.”

Seconded by Cr. Donovan and carried.

Mr. Clarkson hoped that the people would show that they were in earnest and contribute freely.  (An evident allusion to the poor success of questionnaire methods.  As the event showed, the people were less averse to a call upon their purses.  Even before the collection could be held, the appeal implied by the decision of the meeting began to bring results, and the very next day (24th March) a cheque for £50 (from Messrs. W.J. and A.P. Douglas) was received.)

The matter of fixing a day for the Napier collection was left over until next week, but we can find no further mention of it.


The Cottage Hospital collection was held on Saturday, 28th March, the following being part of the report:

Page 21

“The collection in aid of the Hastings Cottage Hospital was taken up in the streets on Saturday.  The morning being wet, it had been decided to postpone the collection till the following Saturday, but owing to the collection for the ambulance being arranged for that day, it was thought advisable to go on as originally arranged.  As the morning advanced, the weather became more promising.

A start was made about 10.30 am. and although the afternoon turned out wet, the result of the day’s canvass turned out satisfactorily .. Altogether 30 boxes were handed in, the total takings being £130, besides the promise of a cheque of £50.  There were still over 30 boxes out…  Some places not canvassed on account of the wet weather would be visited on Monday.   Altogether the total was expected to be considerably over £300”.

On 30th March the total to hand so far was £265 15s. 5d. With 7 boxes still out.  Private subscriptions brought in a further £9 14s.

The total, as given 4th April, was £305 14s. 2d., including some private subscriptions, expenses being £3 11s. 10d.

The collection for Napier Hospital on the Hospital Saturday the year before had been £168 10s.  The feeling of the people of Hastings was very evident.

Growth and Investment of Funds.

A meeting of the Hastings Hospital Committee, (which lapsed for want of a quorum,) was thereupon called for April 8th, so that the Secretary could receive instructions as to the investment of £332, made up of £30 (not £40 in the final upshot) from the cycle sports and £302 from the Saturday collection, which had not yet been invested.  The sum of £120 – £90 from the Hastings Operatic Society and £30 (the amount finally available) from the Indian Famine Fund – had already been invested.  This meant the total to date was £452.

By the Hastings Cottage Hospital Committee meeting of 12th May the total was given as £470, and “it was resolved that the whole amount be held over; trustees to be Mr. E.H. Williams (Chairman) and the Mayor (Mr. W. Hart) for the time being, for investment at their discretion.

Mr. Donovan mentioned a further donation of £5 (R. McGaffin).


At this same meeting, as we have previously noted, it was decided, on account of the difficulty in obtaining replies when canvassing therefore, to wait until they could present a strong case before again approaching the Board, which we also noted had meanwhile been antagonised by the Hospital Saturday affair.

The Chairman thought that if they could present such a strong case showing “why they should have some place in Hastings where urgent cases could be dealt with, the Board would then possibly consider the advisability of giving assistance.”  Till they had one to urge, it was better to wait.

Page 22

Mr. Clarkson (Secretary to the Association) pointed out that the Secretary of the Board had given them an assurance that any case could get assistance where necessary, if they were prepared to take advantage of private hospitals in Hastings, provided the application went through the right source.

It was resolved that the Secretary write to the Secretary of the Board, asking for full information on the above mentioned matter, and that such information be made public through the Press.

It was resolved that the meeting adjourn, that the Board be informed that the Committee would not be meeting it for some time, and that a further meeting be called to discuss more fully what they could lay before the Board.”

The matter was let lie now for some time, pending the working up of the aforesaid strong case, and the minutes of the H.B. Hospital Charitable Aid Board for 8th June, 1914, show that the Hastings Cottage Hospital Association wrote stating that they would not be ready in the immediate future to meet the Board as was previously arranged.


Meanwhile arrangements, of which we have the first information the same day, were in hand for a ball in aid of the cottage hospital.  This, with juvenile ball the next evening, was held on 24th June and brought in a net balance of £106, constituting a record.  (This would bring the total up to at least £458.).

The Great War now put a sudden stop to such activities, and we find no further reference to a hospital for Hastings till 1916.

Page 23


A Maternity Accommodation Proposal, 1916

The need for maternity, as well as general accommodation in Hastings, no doubt began to be felt quite early, but not till 1916 did this need express itself as a definite proposal, when we have a Deputation waiting on the Hon. G.W. Russell (Minister of Public Health and Hospitals) at Hastings, on 30th October, 1916, re a maternity home, with no mention of general accommodation.

Whether this had the effect, to be felt in later negotiations with the Department when the question of general hospital accommodation was revived, of directing the ideas of the Government and its Health Department along such  (i.e. maternity) lines, we have not the information to say, but it will be as well to keep this incident in mind when considering later developments, especially the turning of the Hospital to purely maternity uses by the desire of the Health Department, after its opening in 1928.


The deputation consisted of the Mayor of Hastings (Mr. W. Hart), and Mesdames Williams, McLeod and Lewis.

Mrs. Williams said that they desired to have a talk with the Minister on the subject of a Maternity Home for Hastings.  The private nursing homes in Hastings were insufficient to meet the existing needs, and in one case there had been as many as twelve babies in one of these homes at one time.  They wished to know what help could be expected from the Government in connexion with the matter.

The Hon. Mr. Russell said the question was largely one of finance.  He would like to know whether it would be possible to set up an organisation in Hastings by which public donations could be solicited to help to pay for the cost of the building.  (The life had long since departed from the Hastings Cottage Hospital Association, even if it still technically remained in existence, to later hand over its investments to a new body which was formed after the War.  About £500 had been collected in all, before the War supervened, but by the time the invested funds were taken over they had grown to £824 11s. 10d.)

There were two aspects of the matter to which he desired to refer.  The first was that he had in his mind a scheme for greatly extending the work of the Plunket Society, by re-organising the constitution of the Society.  The Minister then explained his scheme for having unit branches, Provincial Councils and a Dominion Conference, so as to bring about an extension of the Society’s work.

The other aspect of the matter to which he desired to refer was the establishment of St. Helen’s Homes for cheapening the cost of babyhood and for training midwives.  He then explained to those present the lines on which the work at St. Helen’s Homes is carried on.

Page 24

Mrs. Williams then asked what it would cost to establish a Maternity Home in Hastings, and the Minister in reply said it would probably want from £3000 to £4000 to erect the place, unless they happened to be fortunate enough to be able to buy a place already built which was suitable for the purpose.

The ladies stated that they quite thought they would be able to collect that amount to provide for the establishment of the Home.

The Hon. Minister proceeded to explain that there was another way in which the matter could be done and that was through the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board.  If the Board established the Home it would receive pound per pound subsidy from the Government on the cost of doing so.

The ladies then explained that they had in their minds the idea of establishing a Maternity Home under the control of the Plunket Society, and they wondered whether it would be possible to obtain a suitable nurse to take charge of the place.  The Minister said that if they provided such a place he would undertake to find a nurse for them.

The ladies then said that they would go into the question of a campaign to collect funds in the district, after which they thanked the Hon. Minister for the information he had given and withdrew.”

A good deal of Ministerial correspondence followed, but nothing concrete seems to have been done.  The Minister’s approval having been given to the establishment of a Maternity Home in Hastings (if the cost of building could be raised), however, was to find its place two years later.

Page 25




In June 1918, before the end of the War, the ball was set rolling again on the old grievance of levies at a meeting (on 27th June) of the H. B. Hospital and Charitable Aid Board and Napier and Hastings Borough Councils and Havelock North Town Board, at which the Minister of Health, the Hon. G. W. Russell, presided.

There is no record of the subject of a separate hospital for Hastings being actually mentioned at this meeting, which confined itself to a discussion of grievances connected with the rapid rise of hospital expenditure and corresponding levies.  Hastings made the point that its levy in 1912 was 1/11d.  In 1918 3/5d.  in the £1, also that 8 or 9 years ago there were 35 beds in the Napier Hospital, now 200, and that year would add another 50.  Nothing was done about the matter, and the levies, it was decided by the Minister, should stand.

The Hastings Borough Council, however, evidently decided to do something, and passed a resolution at a following meeting which reopened the whole matter of a hospital, on a war memorial basis, a suggestion having been made to that effect.


On July 30, a public meeting “Was held in Hastings for the purpose of considering a resolution of the Borough Council in favour of steps being taken to acquire a suitable block of land for a Maternity Home and a Cottage Hospital which it was proposed should be built at some future date as a memorial to the fallen soldiers of Hawke’s Bay.

The Mayor (Mr. H.I. Simson) was in the Chair.  He said Cr. Beamish had brought the matter before the Council.  He understood that the whole of the money required would be found by patriotic people, and that being so, he saw no reason why the necessary land should not be secured, as the longer the acquisition of it was delayed, the dearer it would become.

Cr. Beamish said his reason for moving in the matter was that many people expressed a wish that there should be erected in Hastings a permanent memorial to the soldiers who had lost their lives in this war.

His proposal was that 28 acres of land at the southern end of Karamu Road should be secured at a cost of £10,000.  He had spoken to a number of influential people, and they had promised to make substantial donations.  Other sites had been suggested, but he considered that the one he had mentioned was very suitable.  The question of site would, however, be decided by a committee which the meeting would be asked to appoint.

The Mayor moved: “That provided that the money is forthcoming, this meeting of citizens considers the time is opportune to secure a site for a Maternity Home and a Cottage Hospital in Hastings;  and further, that offers of sites be advertised by a committee of seven to be set up to secure a site.”

Page 26

The following were appointed a Committee:  Messrs. N.  Beamish, ? Cook, T.  Donovan, W.  Hart, F.  King, T. Styles and F.A. Cameron.

Mr Hart moved: “That this meeting requests the Minister in charge of Public Hospitals to approve of the erection of a Cottage Hospital in Hastings as a memorial to fallen soldiers.”  He explained that the Minister had already approved the erection of a Maternity Home.  (See reference above, Page 24).

Seconded by Mr. Donovan and carried.


The two proposals, the cottage hospital and the maternity home, were now combined.  The Hospital Board at its meeting of 12th August had to consider a letter from “The Secretary, Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Cottage Hospital Fund, making the Board’s co-operation in their efforts towards erecting a Cottage Hospital and Maternity Home in Hastings.”

It was decided that this be considered at the next meeting, a copy meanwhile being sent to each member.

The Committee was on the spot again next meeting of the Board (9th September), when a deputation “consisting of His Worship the Mayor of Hastings (Mr. H.I. Simson), Messrs T. Styles, F. King, T. Donovan and F.A. Cameron waited on the Board” to urge and back up the letter from the Secretary asking for the Board’s co-operation.

The Deputation stated that a Cottage Hospital would be erected and fully equipped and handed over to the Board if the Board would then undertake its control and maintenance”.

The Board thereupon passed the following two motions:

“(1)   That the Board has every sympathy with the request from Hastings for a Cottage Hospital.

(2)   That a Committee consisting of the Chairman (Mr. Shrimpton) and Messrs. Dennett, Chambers and Moeller and the mover be appointed to inquire into the questions submitted by the Deputation and report to the next meeting of the Board.”

The newspaper report the next day notes that Mr. H.I. Simson “stated that as the outcome of a resolution passed at a meeting of the Hastings Borough Council, that a Cottage Hospital and Maternity Home be erected at Hastings, a public meeting was called and a Committee, consisting of the members of the deputation, was set up to carry the matter to a successful issue.  The Hon. Mr. Russell was recently in Hastings and he was in sympathy with the movement, and now they wanted the Board’s sympathy.

Hastings did not want anything on a large scale like the Napier Hospital, but some stop-gap in case of urgent cases.  Hastings was to erect and equip the hospital and then hand it over to the Hospital Board to control it.  As regards the Maternity Home, it would be maintained by the Government.

Page 27

(We shall here quote a letter from the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. G.W. Russell) to Sir John” “in regard to the presentations made to you by His Worship the Mayor at Hastings (Mr. W. Hart) recently respecting the establishment of a Maternity Hospital at Hastings”, and dated 21st April, 1917: –

(“The position re subsidy is clearly set out in the report by my Private Secretary of the interview (given above as Chapter 4) and the accompanying memo…

(“The ladies present clearly promised to raise £4000 to provide the Home and I promised that if they did so I would take the place over as a St. Helen’s Home and run it.”

(“The other plan is for them to ask the Hospital Board to establish a Maternity Hospital and run it.  In this case I would agree to pay under the Hospital Act pound for pound, on the voluntary contributions for capital expenditure.  The Hospital Board would, of course, in that case be liable for maintenance.”

(It is evident from the foregoing that in thus applying to the Hospital Board, the Deputation was forfeiting all claim to Government assistance, apart from a pound for pound subsidy on capital expenditure.

(From this standpoint the combining, or rather associating of the two proposals does not seem to have been exactly a wise move.).

Mr. Styles wished the Board to know that they were not in any way antagonistic.  The time had arrived when Hasting should have something.  Dr. Frongley [ Frengley ](Inspector-General of Hospitals) had told them that a 10 bed hospital would cost £5000.  The hospital, when erected, he said, would be under the control of the Hospital Board.  In conclusion, he asked members of the Board as business men to give Hastings their sympathy.

Mr. King stated that it had been frequently said that Hastings was very close to Napier and consequently it would be impossible to build a big hospital in Hastings like the one in Napier.  Although the distance between Napier and Hastings was only 13 miles, there were areas beyond Hastings where, if a person took ill, he would have to travel perhaps 20 miles to get to the Napier Hospital.  Then there were cases in Hastings which could not get admission in Napier (apparently overcrowding) and had to be taken to a private hospital.  Within a four mile radius of Hastings there was a population of from 10,000 to 12,000 and he considered they had a just claim.  The hospital would be used for urgent cases and also for observation cases.

Mr. Donovan said that he was a member of the first Cottage Hospital Committee which had collected over £600 for this purpose.  On account of the War they had not attempted to collect any further money.  He felt sure the Board would consider their request, and if so, he assured them that the people in Hastings would be far more liberal in the future to the Napier Hospital.

Mr. Simson suggested that a small committee be set up to consider the matter.

Mr. Shrimpton considered it would not be necessary, as certain necessary information would have to be got from the Department before they could do anything.

Page 28

Mr. Hill asked if the Cottage Hospital would be maintained by the Board after the Hastings people erected it

Mr. Shrimpton replied in the affirmative, stating that it was a branch of the Napier Hospital.

Mr. Simson said the Hastings people were determined to have a hospital.  They did not want any friction, but felt that they were paying for hospital maintenance and were not receiving the privileges they should.

Mr. Shrimpton said that no opposition had been suggested, but he wanted details supplied in black and white before any decision was arrived at.

After further discussion it was decided that the Board set up a committee… to meet the Cottage Hospital Committee to go into details… (also report to next meeting and sympathy as above).



There is no record of anything further having happened, till 7th November, 1918, when the Hastings Borough Council held an urgent meeting to consider measures of dealing with the big influenza epidemic.


The Mayor (Mr. H.I. Simson) said he “had been in communication with Mr. Shrimpton, Chairman of the H.B. Hospital Board, who had authorised him to secure a building in Hastings suitable for an isolation ward, and to get nurses.  He thought the seriousness of the position had warranted his calling the Council together….  He took it that the Hospital Board would appoint a doctor.”

It was thereupon resolved: “That the Mayor, Crs. Styles, Pratt and Adams be a committee to deal with the whole matter, with power to secure a building as soon as possible.”

By 11th November “arrangements had been completed for a building to be fitted up as an isolation hospital at Hastings directly it became necessary.”  There were by now “several severe cases in Hastings”, one having been “removed to the Napier Hospital” the day before.

By the next day Messrs. Shrimpton, Roach, and Crosse had been appointed a Committee “to deal with any questions that may arise in Hastings as a result of the epidemic.”

By the 14th the position in New Zealand as a whole was evidently becoming serious and “a hastily convened public meeting” was held at Hastings “for the purpose of considering an appeal addressed by the Minister of Public Health to all Mayors and Chairman of Town Boards to create organisations in their different districts to assist the Government in dealing with the epidemic.

Meanwhile, according to Mr Shrimpton (Chairman of the Hospital Board) who was at this meeting, the Hastings Emergency Hospital was being got ready, the Drill Hall having been selected for this purpose (changed that same evening, at the Mayor’s request, to the Racecourse).  They needed all the outside aid they could get, especially for cases nursed in their own homes.  He was pleased to see such a large number of ladies at the meeting, because to them they must look in dealing with the epidemic.  A certain number of nurses would have to reside in the Drill Hall (at the Racecourse, as it turned out), where they would go on duty in shifts.  He mentioned these facts to make known what was required.  He had made arrangements for Dr. Boxer to take charge of the Drill Hall.”

Dr. Boxer said the hospital in Hastings would be available for any doctor who would be permitted to attend his own cases there.  He wanted that to be clearly understood.

A strong committee was appointed, to run block organisation and registration bureau and aid the hospital generally, consisting of:  The Mayor, Councillors Styles, Beamish and Pratt, Lieut. Cavell, Miss Elsie Williams (Women’s National Reserve), Mrs W. Watson (Red Cross Workers),

Page 30

Miss Isabella Smith (Girls’ Friendly Society) and Mrs. Pinkney [ Pinckney ] (Soldiers” Children’s Society.  Mr L.F. Pegler was appointed public health controller.

The Mayor of Hastings (Mr. H.I. Simson) stated on the 17th that up to seven that evening there had been 55 patients treated at the Hospital on the racecourse, and so far one death had occurred.  They had a number of bad cases owing to the people not advising them for some days as to their position.  During the past two days the Y.M.C.A. assisted by a number of workers, had made a house to house canvass of the town.

More ladies were required to help with nursing in the house and hospital, “as many of the willing band now working requires rest and reinforcement.”

The Borough Inspector had been made Health Inspector and no expense would be spared to clean up the town – which did not seem to have much effect on the epidemic.

On the 19th there were upwards of 60 patients at the racecourse emergency hospital, where there had been two or three deaths and also two or three somewhat serious cases.  It was remarked that there was no statement in Hastings, though there did not appear to be “such widespread prevalence as in some other centres.”  “So far all the doctors but one had escaped.  There was still a demand for the services of men and women in various capacities.”

“Many were visiting the inhalation chamber which had been opened at the Municipal buildings to assist”.  Evidently that did not help very much either.


On the 29th the epidemic was “increasing at an almost alarming rate.”  There were “about 90 at the emergency hospital – an increase of nearly 20 since the previous morning – probably fewer nursed privately.”  Some of the worst cases previously ill had relapsed – getting about before properly recovered.  Generally speaking, however, the condition of the patients did not “give cause for alarm.”

On the same day workmen were employed preparing the Catholic School in Heretaunga Street as a creche, where “children and mothers” of all denominations who are ill will be cared for by the Sisters of Mercy.”

On the 21st, however, it seemed that the climax was over in Hastings.  Barely a week since the emergency hospital had been opened, 100 patients had been admitted, but the number that evening was 90, the patients discharged exceeding the number received by about 10 – only a few were serious.

The Mayor, however, stated – apparently the next day – that “the position was not any brighter.  The hospital was overflowing with patients and many more, including serious cases, were refused admittance.”

Another emergency hospital was to be opened that day at the large grandstand.  He said that it was absolutely impossible to carry on without more help.  He had appealed on several occasions, but was still without the assistance required.  He had been in consultation with Col. McDonald of Palmerston North and had asked him to send orderlies from Awapuni.  This would be done if possible and would relieve the position.

The women had worked splendidly, but the men had not come forward as they should.  He needed more orderlies for the wards and to do general work, and more motor vans.  The need for help would be increased with the opening of a second hospital.  More volunteer nurses were also required as they were short-handed at the wards.  The present staff was completely overtaxed.

Page 31

He had received several calls from the district around Hastings for urgent help, but he was powerless to help them.  In his opinion, the general position was not so good as on Thursday (21st) morning.”

On the 22nd the position at the emergency hospital was:  admitted 126, discharged 23, deaths 10.

On the 21st, the Hastings Holiday Association had held a meeting at which it had decided “that businesses close at 12 noon on Wednesday, 6.0 p.m. on Saturday, and 3.30 p.m. on other days”, commencing that day.  This meeting was presided over by Mr. G.F. Roach, while the Mayor was present for a short time and explained the need of workers to combat the epidemic, and the necessity of the business people forming a committee and assisting.  The Deputy-Mayor, Cr. Styles, was placed in charge of the movement and a further meeting was held the next day.

At this next meeting “of Committee and helpers to clean town and assist in fighting the epidemic” the Deputy-Mayor stated the position was serious “in that more help was needed.”

The number of nurses in the hospital was 25, the number of people employed in the kitchen 20, 3 orderlies and serious cases 3.  15 more nurses were required and 9 more orderlies.  20 nurses were required for day duty and 20 for night duty.  He took it that the object of the meeting was to procure the necessary help.

There is no record of this meeting taking any actual steps, except re orderlies in this matter, however, and appeals continued to be made every day by the Mayor for more nurses.

Cr. Styles also reported that cleaning town, etc. was going on “and the Y.M.C.A. had made a house-to-house inspection.  The Borough Inspector, Mr. Fawcett, was worked clean off his legs.”

Committees were set up for canvassing and house-to-house inspection, for more orderlies, and for dairy inspection, and it was recommended to the sitting Borough Council that the incoming Council adopt more up-to-date methods of cleaning up the town, which should not have to wait on an epidemic, having only one official having been shown to be impossible.

He further reported that the Mayor had opened a subscription list, and that £60 and £70 had been given.  We shall hear more of this list.

The Mayor’s report of the 24th November showed a more stable and satisfactory state of affairs.

There were 105 patients undergoing treatment, and 38 patients had been discharged since the hospital opened 10 days before.  7 had died between Saturday and that day (Sunday, the 24th).

The staff of the Main Hospital was now properly organised, being under the control of Dr. Boxer, assisted by Mr. H.S. Bayliss in charge of the orderlies and Dr. Waterworth, Nurse Walker, assisted by Nurse Anderson of Kereru, now controlled the nursing staff.  Voluntary nurses were still required, especially for night duty. The Mayor said that he would be pleased to hear of ladies who were willing to undertake this work.  Many of the staff had been working very long hours in the past seven days and the strain was telling on them.

Page 32

It was therefore necessary to have reinforcements in order to keep going.

The patients on the whole were progressing satisfactorily, although 8 or 9 – owing to not receiving proper attention before being admitted to the hospital, were considered to be in a serious condition.

Owing to the fact that both the original wards and the new ward were full the Drill Hall had been secured … to “be fitted up as a hospital for the treatment of Maoris, with Dr. Nairn in charge as a Medical Superintendent”, the arrangement having been made by Mr. Shrimpton, as Chairman of the Hospital Board and the Mayor of Hastings.

The Mayor’s subscription list was up to £131.

On the 25th he reported “that the position was more satisfactory.  There had been 6 new cases admitted that day.  They still required nurses “whether voluntary or whether services had to be paid for”.


At a meeting on the 25th of the Mayor’s Executive Committee various reports were given of work done.  Dr. Boxer gave a resume of his, and Lieut. Cavell in charge of the office at the Hospital gave particulars of the work and organisation of branches.

A sub-committee was appointed to meet the Citizens’ Committee and endeavour to arrange better organisation for securing orderlies and assistance.

Mrs. Pinckney also gave particulars of the outside work, which was colossal – over 100 houses helped with food, medicine, etc.

The work was being continued in connection with the appeal for funds by the Mayor, who was unanimously elected Treasurer, and Mr. Pegler Secretary, while trustees had also been appointed.

It was decided that all funds not used were “to go towards the establishment of a hospital at Hastings.”

It was evident that this last object was not going to be long lost sight of.  After the long efforts and disappointments (1906-1918 – which were to be drawn out, incidentally, nearly as long again – 1918-1928), it is hardly to be wondered at that the Hastings people were now in a frame of mind that would not admit of long diversion from this object by any circumstances whatsoever.  As we have seen, even during the war, after a check, the agitation revived once again, and the epidemic was powerless to stop it.  Indeed the necessity for and the spectacle of an emergency hospital in Hastings only fanned the flame and gave fresh fuel for argument, even to bringing up the question of the separation of Hastings from the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board.


At the special meeting of the Hastings Borough Council on the 26th, the Mayor traversed the history of the outbreak of the epidemic in Hastings.  He said no town in New Zealand had grappled with the problem better and more quickly.

Page 33

In dealing with the epidemic, Hastings had no reason to thank the H.B. Hospital Board or its members, and the best thing Hastings could do was to get out of the hospital district altogether.  He did not blame Mr. Shrimpton, because he became ill in the first few days and a man of his age could not be expected to contend with such a strain.

(We shall give Mr. Shrimpton’s reply to this in due course.)

A convalescent ward was necessary.  Some of the patients who were ready to be discharged  had no house to go to, whilst others had no comfort in their homes.  Unless they were dealt with in a convalescent ward, some lives were likely to be lost within the next few weeks.

He had asked the Government to set aside money for boroughs with this object by a £1 for £1 subsidy on loan or grant. He had asked the other bodies in New Zealand to co-operate with him for that purpose.  Mayor’s action endorsed.

On Tuesday, the 26th, the Maori Hospital was opened in the Drill Hall, there being 25 patients in it on the evening of the 27th.  A trained Nurse, Nurse Calnet for service at the hospital, had been obtained from Auckland by Mrs Perry, and on the 28th the staff was noted as being complete.  The Committee, of which Mr. Mason Chambers was Chairman, was doing excellent work, and the hall was fitted up with every convenience.

The Mayor reported on the 27th “that Mrs. T. Tanner of Havelock North had placed her beautiful home at the disposal of the Mayor for use as a convalescent hospital, and thanked her for her generous offer, of which he availed himself within a few hours.

The 27th saw 14 cases admitted and 6 discharged, with 5 deaths, there having been 90 cases in the emergency hospital the evening before, while on the 28th the position was “very much improved”, Dr. Boxer believing they had turned the corner.  There were now 67 patients in the hospital, 29 patients in the Maori hospital, with no fatal cases.

The number of deaths in Hastings, as recorded by the Registrar (Mr. Brathwaite) that morning was 54, including 4 Maoris.

On the 29th, while the position in Hastings had been improving, with only 2 deaths since the previous morning, there had been a rise that day, and there was mention of the possibility of a second wave.  It was expected on the 30th at the Racecourse Hospital that several patients would be “removed to the convalescent home at Havelock North, kindly and opportunely lent by Mrs. Thos. Tanner.”

The 29th saw 42 Maori patients at the Drill Hall, with 3 deaths and it was decided at a meeting of Maoris to suspend shearing till December 9.  The 30th found 44 Maori patients, with one more death.

On the 1st December the Hastings position was favourable, with 60 at the hospital, 3 admissions that day (Sunday).  Since Saturday morning there had been 5 deaths, bringing the total deaths for the hospital to 38.

A full meeting of the Hastings Influenza Relief Organisation was held on Saturday afternoon, 30th November.  It would be outside our purpose to give a full report of the proceedings.

Page 34

We shall place on record those present:  The Mayor (Mr. H.I. Simson), Dr. Boxer (Superintendent Emergency Hospital), the Deputy Mayor (Cr. T. Styles), Crs. W.W. Adams, N. Beamish and E. Pratt, Messrs. L.F. Pegler (organiser), E.J.F. King (Maori Hospital), W.T. Chaplin (Food Distributing Depot), E.H. Williams (Trustee and Borough Solicitor), and Lieut. Cavell (Hospital Staff), Mesdames Pinckney (Food Depot), and Tosswill, Misses E. Williams, G. Gray and A. Smith.

We may also note that Dr. Boxer referred to the Insanitary conditions of many homes and stressed the point that a resident medical officer of health should be appointed in every borough.

The following resolutions are of importance:

“(2)   That the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Borough Solicitor of Hastings for the time being be appointed trustees of the Mayor’s  influenza Epidemic Fund, and that an account be opened in the Union Bank in the name of the trustees,  the account to be operated on by any of the trustees, and the Secretary (Mr. L.F. Pegler), the account being first certified by the trustees.

(3)  That the trustees of the Mayor’s Influenza Epidemic Fund be authorised to expend the fund in assisting necessitous cases with the necessaries of life, and that they have absolute discretion to administer relief for all cases where they, or a majority of them, are satisfied that relief is required and if there should be any surplus of the said fund when the normal health of the community is restored, such surplus should be held by the trust for a hospital to be hereafter established in Hastings.”

Mr A.I. Rainbow was appointed auditor of the fund.


The statement of the Mayor of Hastings at the Borough Council Meeting of the 26th November, that in the matter of dealing with the prevailing epidemic “he had no reason to thank the H.B. Hospital board or its members” brought a vigorous protest from the chairman of the Board, Mr. W. Shrimpton, who intimidated in a letter which appeared in the Herald of 2nd December that “As soon as influenza was reported in Hastings I attended at Hastings a meeting of Hasting medical men called by Dr. Boxer.  At that meeting I notified that provision will be made at once for taking in patients by the Hospital Board and I asked our sanitary inspector to look out for a site.

The next meeting I attended, with a member of the Board was a meeting of borough councillors and citizens, and speaking at their request, I informed them that a ward would be prepared as soon as possible.  I pointed out clearly, that in view of the great strain on the nursing staff at the Hospital they could only send one or two charge nurses, and that voluntary aid must be obtained for assisting in nursing, under the instructions of the charge nurses.  The Mayor then appealed for the necessary aid to deal with the nursing situation.

On behalf of the Hospital Board I appointed Dr. Boxer as Medical Superintendent of the emergency hospital that we intended setting up, which position he accepted.

Page 35

I understand that afterwards a strong committee of councillors and others was set up to deal with the question of aid.

After the meeting, sites were examined and the Drill Hall was selected as the most suitable, and Mr. Crosse, a member of the Board, and acting for them, at once engaged a staff of workmen and commenced the necessary alterations, and tenders were called by the Board for supplies, requirements, etc.  All aid was given by the Mayor and others interested.

Late that night the Mayor rang me up and asked me if I would approve of the buildings at the racecourse being used in place of the Drill Hall.  This site had never been suggested before, but Mr. McLeod, Chairman of the Committee of the Jockey Club, consented to let it be used for hospital wards.  I consented to the change of site, knowing that the conveniences at the racecourse were so suitable and required but little alteration and could be ready for occupation as soon as the Drill Hall.  The situation was perfect, and work was commenced there.  I went down next morning.  Mr. Gardiner, the Board’s inspector, was already there giving matters his best attention.  Mr. Scheele, the Board’s Secretary, was there going fully into the question of requirements for opening the wards, supplies, etc.

The Technical School had offered their aid in preparing and cooking food, and at my request. Mrs. and Miss Ellis, who have done such good work since, came in, and we inspected the kitchen and cooking apparatus and appliances and their valuable suggestions were authorised.  The Mayor and a portion of the borough staff were and had been giving alterations their best attention.

Later on the Matron of the Napier Hospital arrived (she had previously sent out a nurse):  and dealt with all the questions of arranging wards, etc. and made the required provision for nurses’ quarters.  Mr. Scheele appointed Mr. Cavell as clerk to do the necessary clerical work and deal with the question of ordering and supplies, etc.

Before the Matron left that evening one ward was ready for occupation and two of the hospital nurses were on duty.

In face of the above I fail to see how the assertion made by the Hastings Mayor that the Hospital Board or the members had done nothing to assist can be substantiated.  The Hospital board initiated the whole work and made it ready for occupation.

The Hospital Board have also opened another hospital in Hastings at the Drill Hall for dealing with natives.  This hospital was under the control of three members of the Hospital Board, viz., Messrs. T.M. Chambers, W.Y. Dennett and G.F. Roach, who have added to their committee from gentlemen in Hastings.  The Drill Hall Hospital is in full working order and fully staffed by nurses and volunteers.

In conclusion, I must say that the Mayor, councillors and committee formed in Hastings give the question of dealing with the epidemic their best and most earnest attention and their efforts in getting voluntary nurses and orderlies and arranging their outside nursing have been well carried out, and that able assistance aided many that otherwise could not have obtained the necessary attention.

W Shrimpton

PS: “I wish to point out that after the Hospital Board got the Hastings Racecourse Hospital into working order the Mayor and Committee took charge of the wards, acting presumably under the authority of the wire received

Page 36

from the Minister of Public Health, which constituted them a local body apparently with power to act.


The situation was now improving rapidly.  On 2nd December there were 50 patients at the racecourse hospital, 57 at the Maori hospital and 18 children in the creche.  By the 3rd there were 42, with 59 in the Maori hospital.   By the 4th, however, the figures were down for both hospitals, with 40 and 46 respectively.  A large portion of the staff of the racecourse hospital had now been released, while the report from the Maori hospital was excellent.  Dr. Nairn and his staff had “so far managed to combat the disease successfully, and fears that there would be a heavy death toll amongst the Maoris in this hospital” had not materialised.

The improvement continued through the 5th, when there were 36 patients left in the racecourse hospital, the original ward of which had now been closed.

On Monday, the 9th of December, however, it was reported by the Mayor that “although things were satisfactory at the main hospital and there had been no admissions for two days, on Sunday there were 4 new cases, which showed that it was still in the district.  There were also calls for a large number of nurses to nurse in the homes of the people, showing that a number of relapses and new cases were about.  It was impossible under these circumstances to meet the demand for nurses.

Personally, he thought the position came about through fear of the people to go into the hospital wards, especially when relations were not admitted to see the patients.

The matter would be considered at the meeting of the Executive and he anticipated that the result would be an increase of admissions to the hospital.”

Reference was also made to closing of hotels during the epidemic owing to the danger of infection and to the health of convalescents.

The meeting of the executive of the Hastings Influence Relief Organisation was duly held the same day (Monday).

The Chairman, Dr. Boxer, having given the position of affairs at the Emergency Hospital, the question of the exclusion of relatives and friends of the patients was lengthily debated.

The meeting decided to support the Mayor and the hospital superintendents in any action they might see fit to take, acting under the Public Health Department’s authority, to prevent the spread of influenza.

The Secretary-Organiser (Mr. L.F. Pegler) and Miss G. Gray (in charge of the out-nursing organisation) reported that they had dealt with over 400 families, and that latterly there seemed a tendency to appeal for help from this source in many cases where hospital treatment was essential.

It was thereupon received, that public notice be given calling upon the householders of the borough to give notice to the Mayor at the Racecourse Hospital of all cases of influenza and that all patients (unless in the

Page 37

convalescent stage) be removed to the Racecourse Hospital, and that failing such removal on the order of Dr. Boxer or any other medical man, nursing assistance from the Racecourse Hospital to out-patients be withheld.

The next day there were 3 admitted and 5 discharged, leaving 25.  To date there had been 44 deaths in Hastings, it was stated, but this conflicts with Mr. Brathwaite’s figure of 54 previously given.  Apparently at the Racecourse Hospital was meant.  The following day there were 5 cases admitted, but they all came from 2 families.  On the 12th there were only 2 cases admitted.  Here the figure of 44 deaths is repeated specifically for the Racecourse Hospital.

The convalescent home, we may note, had had about 20 now discharged and there were 25 still in the home.

However, the Mayor (Mr. H.I. Simson) stated that evening “that he had received advice from Wairoa that the nurses at the hospital were down.  Owing to the staff at Hastings being exhausted or not in a position to help, Mr. Simson communicated with Napier.”

The next day “Mr. Mason Chambers, Chairman of the Maori Hospital said his committee had taken charge of Mohaka, which was in rather a bad state and 2 orderlies (Messrs. Aldridge and Ayling) left the Drill Hall for that district.”

There being no admissions the previous day, it was decided that afternoon on the 14th December the emergency hospital would not be open to receive further cases. Apparently there did not appear to have been as many hospital cases being treated in their homes as had been thought, as the decision of the Executive re the removal to the Racecourse Hospital of any such patients does not seem to have produced any very great effect.


There now only remained the petering out of the supply of patients in the emergency hospital – any stray fresh cases were of course sent to the Napier Hospital – and general clearing up.  By the 16th there were 18 patients at the racecourse and 17 Maori patients at the Drill Hall.  All patients were being “cleared up” who were “in good enough health to enable them to be discharged.”  The Herald of the 19th December states that “all the subsidiary hospitals have now been closed down” and mentions several cases having been discharged from the Hastings Emergency Hospital, so we may presume that was all that was left by that date – say the previous day, the Herald being a morning paper.

We may mention here that at the Hastings Borough Council meeting of 17th December, praise was given the District Nurses who had operated during the epidemic.

This epidemic had revealed some inadequacies, and made others more keenly felt.

That the committee of 8 appointed on November 22nd for canvassing and house to house inspection was on November 28th recommended to the Borough Council to help with sanitary inspection arrangements “at least twice a year” showed that there was a sharply felt inadequacy in Hastings’ health

Page 38

inspection services.  While active participation by such organisations of volunteer citizens might be expected to die down as soon as the emergency was past, there was  one need that would still continue to be felt and one effect of the epidemic that would be lasting, and that would be for it to swell and give a sharper note and stronger direction to the agitation for a hospital.  Which is exactly what happened, or we should not have given so much space to this incident of the epidemic.

The Citizens’ Committee appointed at the public meeting of November 22nd, on the 22nd of December made a report, in which it was stated: –

“It has been clearly demonstrated to the committee, as a result of the recent epidemic, that a fully equipped hospital is an urgent necessity for Hastings.”

This report was signed by:  Deputy Mayor T. Styles (Chairman), Messrs. J.S. McLeod, John H. Colebourne, M. Johnson, T. Clarkson, H.A. Fannin, William Hart, F. Perrin, Geo. F. Roach (Members of the Committee), and A.I. Rainbow (Hon. Secretary).


To sum up the epidemic period, and the measures taken to deal with the situation in Hastings, we give the report of Mr. W. Shrimpton at the special meeting of the H.B. Hospital Board of 30th December, 1918.
“Racecourse Hospital.  So soon as the epidemic spread in the district attention was given and the matter was taken in hand at once and wards were opened by the Board at the racecourse buildings.  The main buildings were utilised as wards and the tearooms occupied for nurses and accommodation for cooking, etc attended to.  A matron and nurses were sent out and patients were admitted on November 15.  Dr Boxer was appointed by me as Medical Superintendent in charge.  Under the proclamation issued by the Minister of Public Health constituting the Borough of Hastings as the local authority, the Mayor of Hastings assumed sole control and conducted this hospital.”

Drill Hall Hospital.  Owing to the spread later of the epidemic among the Maori population, many of whom were engaged n shearing and necessarily congregated together, the Board opened the Drill Hall at Hastings as a ward of the hospital and appointed a committee of control, consisting of Messrs. Mason Chambers (Chairman of the Committee), Crosse, Dennett and Roach, members of the Board, who added to their number Messrs. King (Y.M.C.A.) Rev. F. Bennett, Taranaki te Ua, J.H. Colebourne, J.S, McLeod and ex-officio the Chairman of the Board and the Mayor of Hastings.  Dr. Nairn was appointed the medical officer in charge.

The Committee devoted the whole of its time to the effective management and control of this hospital.  Nurses and helpers were sent out under its supervision to Omahu, Bridge Pa, and all the native settlements in that large district.

Nurses were also sent out to attend to natives at Petane and elsewhere.  A very large number of natives were also treated in their homes by the Rev. Mr. Bennett, voluntary nurses and others.

Page 39

The figures are: –

Admitted   Discharged   Deaths   Remaining
Racecourse   222   174   48   –
Drill Hall   87   76   11   –
Convent Creche   39   39   –   –

Keeping in view the possible chance of a recrudescence of the epidemic, … Napier and the Drill Hall at Hastings have not been dismantled. The necessary furnishings, beds, etc. are kept in readiness.

At the Board meeting of 12th May a letter was received from the Defence Department grating the use of the Hastings Drill Hall as a temporary hospital in the event of an outbreak of influenza and refusing the use of the Napier Drill Hall.

There had been difficulty over nurses, continued Mr. Shrimpton, owing to their contracting the disease.  What nurses could be spared had been sent to the various emergency hospitals in Hastings and Napier.

Mr. Hill asked if the Minister of Public Health had power to delegate power to other local authorities.

The Chairman said that he did not know whether he had the power, but he had done so, as at Hastings.

The Hastings organisations, it appeared, had run their own finance, the Board having no control over the Hastings emergency hospital, members of the Board having been refused admission.  The Board had been relieved of the responsibility, and it would pass accounts at the request of the Department.

The Chairman read a letter from the Department … would meet expenses in connection with special hospitals … and cases where other local bodies had taken control accounts also had to be forwarded to the Minister.”

Page 40


The Renewal of Effort After the Epidemic 1919 – 1926

At its first meeting of the New Year, on 23rd January, 1919, the Hastings Borough Council passed a resolution: –

“That the matter of the erection of a hospital etc. be pushed on.


However, the meeting of 27th March received a letter from Mr. L.W. Fowler “bringing under the notice of the council the fact that the movement to get a hospital for Hastings which began some six months ago, was still practically dead, and respectfully suggesting that a meeting of ratepayers be called to discuss the question of bringing a Bill before Parliament next session to create Hastings a special hospital district.  This was referred to the “People’s Hospital Committee” which had evidently been set up by the Borough Council as a sub-committee of itself.


A letter signed “Pro Bono Publico on the 16th April brought up once more the matter of a Hospital as a War Memorial.  He said that Hastings seemed in a great hurry to spend or waste a lot of money on peach celebrations.

If Hastings had so much ready money, hadn’t it better be beginning to think – because of the epidemic that had passed, and epidemics that were likely to come again with the returning troops – of providing herself with a public hospital for the use of her own people?

It might become a Peace Memorial.  It was rather a disgrace that a town of the size and importance of Hastings, that was always boasting of its progressiveness, should not have its own hospital, but be content to send its sick and wounded 12 or 13 miles away to the almost always overcrowded Napier hospital.  Private hospitals did not count – their very high prohibitive charges made them a luxury for the rich – and they were not as a rule as well staffed as a public hospital nor did they have a resident doctor – the strong point in favour of a public hospital, and in a sense the latter was the people’s own institution.  The only drawback of a public hospital was the want of privacy.  Suggestion of cubicles for women.  References theatre, cinemas, parks, recreation ground – surely means and interest for a public hospital.


The whole matter was definitely reopened at the Hospital Board meeting of 11th August, after the May Municipal elections, when the new Mayor Hastings, Mr. Geo. Ebbett, the tenacious negotiator who finally saw the matter through to a successful issue, waited upon the Board.

“Mr. Ebbett addressed the meeting to some length, and stated that he had interviewed the Hon. the Minister of Public Health on the subject and

Page 41

was of the opinion that that gentleman would favourably consider the suggestion.  He hoped that the ward would be erected by Public Subscription, and would be opened free of cost to the Board, who would be responsible for the general maintenance and management of the Institution.

It was resolved that a special meeting be held on Friday, 15th inst., when the Hastings Casualty Ward question would be thoroughly discussed.

At this meeting “considerable discussion took place, and the following motions were put and carried: –

‘That the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board approve generally of the proposal to establish an auxiliary Hospital and recommend that this should be referred to the Honourable the Minister of Public Health, with a view to an estimate of annual cost of maintenance being obtained, this data to be submitted to the next meeting of the Board.’

and: –

1.   That the Board obtain from the South Canterbury Hospital authorities the number of beds provided and the cost of maintenance of the Waimate branch, apart from that of their main hospital.

2.   That this information be also obtained from other Hospital Boards governing similar institutions

3.   That the report of the Mayor of Hastings with respect to an application for the erection of Casualty and Maternity Wards be supplied to members of the Board.”

The next meeting (8th September) after a lengthy discussion re “Hastings Casualty Ward and Maternity Home”, decided to discuss maintenance in open Board, while buildings etc. were to be considered in Committee, and passed a motion: –

“That this Board approves of the erection of buildings at Hastings for hospital purposes but the question of maintenance be deferred to a later meeting when further information will be available.”


Evidently the matter of a Maternity Hospital was given a prominent place, for at the Board meeting of 13th October, on correspondence being received “from the Minister of Public Health approving of and agreeing to subsidise £ for £ up to £4000 (as in 1916 – see Chapter IV) a Maternity Home at Hastings,  after a considerable amount of discussion the following motion was carried: –

“That this Board approves of the establishment of a Maternity Home at Hastings of not less than 15 beds and on an area of not less than 12 acres.” but it decided: –

“That the question of a Casualty Ward at Hastings be deferred to a full meeting of the Board.”

The minimum stipulation for a Maternity Home is significant, and will bear noting.  An extra home, at Hastings, was definitely felt to be a desirable addition to the Board’s maternity accommodation.

Page 42


However, at a special meeting of the Board in Hastings on Friday, 31st October, “The Chairman considered that on the face of information now before the meeting all previous motions on the subject should be rescinded, so that the matter might be fully and thoroughly gone into today, the matter to be proceeded with afresh with a view to reaching finality”, and a motion was passed: –

“That this Board favourably considers the question of a Maternity Ward and Casualty Ward at Hastings.”

“Mr. Hill stated that he desired to see the Institution established on the lines laid down in the Inspector-General’s letter of the 14th October, 1919 (we have no copy of this, but it appears very likely that this letter provided the “information now before the meeting of which the Chairman spoke). “The Board were of the unanimous opinion that the estimated cost of grounds and buildings would be in the vicinity of £20,000 (quite a reasonably close estimate, they actually came to rather more.), but that it must be understood that the whole Hospital and property would be a free gift to the Board and handed over free of any encumbrance.

Mr. Ebbett asked what would be the exact use of the hospital and Dr. Gilray explained that it would really be a ward for emergency, casualty and medical cases, any contagious case would not be able to obtain admission as such could be taken to the Napier Hospital.

It was decided that no committee (of the Board) be set up until the money was obtained, when the proposed site and works would be submitted to the Health Department and to the Board, for approval, this being granted, the Board would then set up a committee to co-operate with His Worship the Mayor and his Committee.”

Further discussion as to the area of the site then took place, and eventually it was stipulated: – “That the area of the property be not less than seven acres.”

On the matter of the Board forming a Committee being brought up again, the Chairman stated his intention of obtaining a sketch from the Board’s architects when they visited Napier the next week, but he thought nothing further should be done until the money was obtained.

It was further suggested that where negotiations for land were being made it would be advisable to obtain, if possible, a section already laid out in gardens, etc., so that when the hospital would be erected it would save a very considerable period of time in placing the grounds in good condition.


The Hastings Hospital project, after long years of existence as an idea, can now be considered as fairly launched on its way as a practical undertaking.

Mr. Ebbett “convened a Public Meeting in Hastings and submitted a proposition that the people of Hastings and the surrounding Districts should provide such an Institution as a Memorial to their Fallen Soldiers. The proposal was most favourably received and with the addition that Monuments should also be erected at Hastings and Havelock, it was adopted unanimously

Page 43

and enthusiastically and a Committee of 60 including seven representing the Maori race was set up at the meeting.”

The members were: –

Chairman:  Geo. Ebbett, Esq. Deputy Chairman:  Mr. Wm. Hart. Esq.
Borough Councillors: W. White, T. Styles, J. O’Neill, D.E. Davis, A.W. Hamilton, C.J. Tipping, N. Beamish, L.W. Fowler and T. Donovan.
Hastings Members:  Messrs E.H. Williams, F. Perrin, M. Johnson, Thos. Clarkson, Geo. Cameron, Robt. Gooseman, H. Baird, L.F. Pegler, J.S. McLeod, G.K. Sinclair, J.H. Colebourne, A. Ellingham, P. Tombs, J.R. Lanauze, H. Gascoyne, H. Hassall, F.E. Nelson, H.N. Campbell, M.P., Sir. A. Russell, Lieut.-Col. Holderness, Father Mahony, Revs. Brocklehurst, Edridge, McBean and Ramsay, Capt. Hayes (Salvation Army).
Mesdames J.H. Williams, Tosswill, Tuohy, T.W. Lewis, F. Nelson, Geo. Ebbett, Liddell, Wm. Keith and Lady Russell.
Misses C.T. Anderson, Elsie Williams and Roach.
Havelock North:  Messrs. E.C. Clarkson, J.H. Joll and J. Phillips.
H.B. County:  Messrs. Mason Chambers and Thos. Crosse
Labour Unions:  Messrs. C. Dunkley and P. Nihil.
Hospital Board:  Mr. W. Shrimpton
Y.M.C.A:  Mr S. Peck
W.C.T.U.  Mrs. Lovell-Smith
Returned Soldiers’ Association:  Dr. Boxer, K.L. Bunn.
Maoris:  Messrs. Taranaki Te Ua, Hori Tupaea, Tangiora Puke Puke, D. Ellison, P.H, Tomoana, Rev H. Bennett, Mrs. D. Ellison.

“At a subsequent meeting of the Committee, an executive consisting of Messrs. W. Hart, J.H. Colebourne, F. Perrin, D.E. Davis and Joe O’Neill, with Mr. Geo Ebbett as Chairman was elected.  Mr. F. Perrin was appointed Hon. Secretary and Mr. A.I. Rainbow Hon. Treasurer.


During the rest of 1919 and the first half of 1920 the collection, pushed forward energetically by Mr. Ebbett, grew rapidly – we may note such sums as £1000 from Lilly H. (Mrs J.H.?) Williams and £500 from Sir Andrew and Lady Russell – till by July 31, 1920, it had reached the amount of £18,000. In a letter of that date to the Hon. J.A. Anderson, Minister of Public Health, Mr. Ebbett states that this figure, and after referring to the previous Minister’s agreement to “a Maternity Home and Auxiliary Hospital here” with promise of £ for £ subsidy up to £4000 goes on: – (see 1916)

SITE CHOSEN AND ACQUIRED: Conditionc and Arrangements with Department.

“We have chosen a site, and yesterday the Chief Health Officer visited Hastings for the purpose of inspecting it and he expressed his unqualified approval of this site known as “the Ridge” containing 18 acres about one mile from the centre of the town (c.p. previous stipulation to this effect), and 20 chains over the Borough Boundary.

Subject to your approval Dr. Valintine (Director-General of Health) agreed to make the following arrangement: –

Page 44

“1.   He approves of the site.

2.   We are to acquire it and pay for it and to erect thereon a Maternity Home together with Nurses’ quarters, the necessary kitchen and laundry requirements and certain hospital accommodation.

3.   We intend to equip the Maternity Home, and he agrees to accept it and carry it on as a St. Helens Maternity Hospital – women from the Hawke’s Bay district to be trained free, and the charges for the patients to be the same as all other St. Helens Hospitals; these being, we understand 20/- per week before, and 30/- per week after, a confinement.

4.   The building is to be so arranged that a portion of it will be available for the hospital treatment, and this portion not to be less than six beds is to be equipped and taken over and controlled by your Department in the same way.

5.   There may be an Advisory Committee, but you have sole control.

6.   We are to have plans prepared but they must be submitted to your Department for revisions, if necessary and final approval.

I have asked Dr. Valintine to confer with you and obtain confirmation of this as soon as possible, so that it may be submitted to the Committee here, and if agreed to we are ready to commence as soon as conditions allow.”

The “Ridge” property of 18 acres was duly acquired from the Garnett Estate and the Hastings Rugby Sub-Union, which latter had a playing field there, a deposit of £100 being paid in August, 1920, £1345 6s. 1d. in September and £354 13s. 11d. in February 1921, which with a donation of £900 from the Garnett Estate, made a total of £2700 (net cost £1800). There were also some small amounts to pay for rates etc.

Page 45




We cannot pass over a private letter of 17th September, 1920 from the Director-General of Health to Mr. Geo. Ebbett, as the variance over hospital policy between the Minister and the Departmental officers spoken of was to crop up again and play no small part for years to come.

The letter states: –

“Unfortunately the report as to the Minister of the Department being at variance with its medical officers over it’s hospital policy is only too true and will, undoubtedly, result in a large increase in the demands for hospitals.  I may say that the Officers of the Department are absolutely unanimous as to the policy that has been laid down as regards Hospitals, i.e. that it is better to have a few well constructed, thoroughly equipped and adequately staffed hospitals than a number of secondary institutions where the work of the medical officers cannot be under adequate supervision. I quite realise that this unfortunate disagreement between the Minister and the Medical Officers of the Department will handicap us as regards limiting the scope of the Institution which we had mutually agreed upon as suitable for Hastings District, but the matter cannot be helped and I must face the question when I am before your meeting as best I can.”


Mr Ebbett’s reply of the 25th September gives us further details as to the arrangements made.  He states: –

“I beg to confirm the arrangement which has now been finally made between us.

We are to erect an institution providing 10 maternity beds and 10 for the accommodation of emergency cases and children (note later), together with the necessary provision for nurses, kitchen, outbuildings, etc. on the site already approved by you, and your department will take over and accept transfer of the institution and control and administer it from your office through a local advisory committee.

You to equip the maternity side and we the hospital side.  All our previous arrangements in other directions as to approval of the plans by your Department and the whole of the general arrangements to be under your supervision still to apply, but it is agreed if we decide on two separate buildings as close as conveniently may be for the purpose of management and administration, you will not object.

Any children who are ill or in need of nursing attention and care to be admissable.  The age is still to be fixed, but children under 12 to 14 years have been suggested.  (Note Children’s Ward of 1940-1).

Since this was agreed on, Miss Anderson has suggested, and should Committee agree, you will approve, that instead of 10 beds for Maternity and 10 for other cases, there should be 8 for maternity and 12 for other cases.  This I will submit to the committee and will let you know the result.

[no Page 46]

Page 47


Preparation of the Grounds was gone on with, permission being received from the Hawke’s Bay County Council, on August 24, 1922, to carry sewer and water pipes under the County road.  The connection with Borough sewer and water supply finally costing about £820.

On the 25th August the Minister of Health (Hon. C. J. Parr) informed Mr.  Ebbett – also Mr. H. M. Campbell, M. P. for Hawke’s Bay – that he had recommended the placing of £3000 on the estimates that year, in order that a commencement might be made with their building programme.


The purchase of the Grounds, architects fees, monuments, and sewer and water connections, were, or would be, as we have seen, heavy items, and in a letter of 10th October that year, to the architects, Mr Ebbett stated that there would be only “about £17,000 actually available” for the hospital buildings.”  There were, in addition, a number of outstanding subscriptions, but the executive were quite determined that they would not recommend the committee to make themselves liable for anything for which they had not actually got the money to pay.  They did not desire to depart from the original plan, but that meant that only a portion of the buildings could be erected at that time.  He asked the architects to please consider the matter and determine what portion in their opinion could most conveniently be cut out so that the cost might be reduced to not more than £17,000.

This they duly agreed to do.

On the 13th of October, Mr. A. I. Rainbow, the Hon. Treasurer, forwarded to Mr. Ebbett a balance sheet showing £11,054 11s. 11d. actually in hand and invested on the 30th of September, with £4468 8s. owing in yet unpaid promises, of which a list was given in full. The “slump” interfered with payments somewhat.


Apparently as a result of the proposed change of plans, a hold-up developed re the Government subsidy.  Mr. Ebbett telegraphed to Mr. H. N. Campbell M. P. asking him to do what he could, adding in another telegram of 20th October that he could find nothing on the estimates of the Hospital subsidy.  Mr Campbell replied that same day: –

“Have seen Mr. Parr (Minister of Health) re hospital. He will endeavour to put an amount on supplementary estimates but cannot give an absolute assurance.”

Therefore the chance of obtaining anything from that source, at least for that year, seemed small. The reason why building that year should depend on such subsidy being available was that the Memorial Committee’s funds were on fixed term deposits with Bank or Building Societies, and only one of those, of £1000, was due in 1922, and that in December, while

Page 48

the remainder were due at various dates between February and June the next year.

While speaking of funds, we may meanwhile note here that in May 1922, £361 4s. 9d. of the Old Cottage Hospital Fund, which had been invested  over the Great War period, was paid in to the Memorial Committee and on October 24th of this same year Mr. E. H. Williams, writing for Logan, Williams and White, who held the money, stated there was £463 6s. 8d. still in hand, which was later likewise handed over. The total amount paid in from this source was therefore £824 11s. 5d.


On 26th October the architects were “able to state” that the whole of the Emergency Hospital, Out-Patients Block, Matron’s quarters complete, and a portion of the Nurses’ Home providing for five bedrooms, bathroom and  sitting room, together with a temporary laundry, could be erected for the sum of £17,000, including “the whole of the work complete with hot water heating, all sanitary fixtures, cork lino to corridors, composition floors and tiling to all lavatories, but not movable stuff such as beds, medical and dinner trolleys, utensils, etc.” which they took it would be supplied by the hospital authorities.

This provided for 18 beds and the service requirements for future extensions, including the Maternity Home.

The Out-patients Block provided for the daily treatment of patients living at their own houses, thus making the Emergency Hospital a complete unit.

All water, drainage, electric light and gas connections as at the Omahu Road boundary had been allowed for, but not my entrance gates, drive or layout.


A general meeting of the Memorial Committee was called, and on 2nd November the following report was submitted by the Executive: –

“Re Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital Fund.

We have pleasure in submitting a report in connection with this and dealing with the position generally since the last meeting.

We disposed of the old pine trees at the Ridge by tender, and they realised £39.  We decided to allow the gum trees to remain.  We have had fenced off and planted, a plantation along the South and South Eastern boundaries, of the site.

The money on hand in fixed deposit has earned in interest up to 1st October £1196 10s. 7d. and we have received £34 0s. 4d. in grazing fees. The earning power in this direction has been greatly handicapped owing to the absence of water.  The total amount now on fixed deposit for short terms is £11,054 11s. 11d.

Page 49

The subscriptions promised but still outstanding amount to £4468 8s. 0d. of which £3150 is represented by 8 subscriptions of £100 or more, and the balance in smaller subscriptions is thus £1318.  Of the total, we estimate £3968 is good and will ultimately be collected and of this sum we consider £1000 can be collected at once.  Of the balance of £2968 we think (crossed out in the original) the bulk of it will ultimately become good but in order to be on the safe side, we suggest we should not build on more than £2000. We have therefore in hand on deposit £11,054, accrued interest £247, credit on current account £101, balance of cottage hospital fund £463, subscriptions immediately collectable £1000 and subsidy £9000 or altogether £21,865.

Mr Climie estimates that the cost of connecting the site with the Borough sewer and water (4 inch main) will be £690, architects fees and supervision will probably absorb £1400 or altogether £2090, leaving £19,775.  The cost of the building as originally planned was estimated about £35,000 and we estimate the cost now at £28,000, so that if it is proceeded with at once, there must be a serious cut.  Your executive met a committee from Havelock  to discuss monuments and it was agreed subject to your approval, that £1500 should be devoted to this purpose £850 to Hastings and £650 to Havelock and that if this is approved the balance actually available for building is £19,775 less £1500 or £18,275 plus the value of outstanding subscriptions and the question is when will these be available.  No one knows because no one is able to say when conditions with the farming and business community will again become normal.  Your Executive has made every endeavour to secure a proportion of the subsidy this year and although this has been conditionally promised by the Minister of Health, at this moment the matter is in doubt

That is the position and it is a matter for the committee to decide whether the building is to be proceeded with immediately.  If it is so determined, we would strongly recommend that its outside estimated cost should not be more than the money actually in hand or as good as in hand, viz. £18,275 unless guarantors can be found before any contract is signed for payment of the deficiency which may be found to exist at the finish.

We consider it will be wise to connect the site with the Borough water at once.  Fire Brigade Superintendent Keith recommends a 4-inch pipe should be connected so as to make adequate provision for fire prevention and we have accepted that as being necessary.  If the sewer is taken to the site we think that in the meantime it should not be taken too far over the boundary until it is known at what part of the building it will connect.

The matter of a monument and its site is one which your executive  regards as of the greatest importance and it has received long and very serious consideration and much attention at their hands.

Your determination before any subscriptions were solicited was in addition to the hospital a monument in Hastings and one in Havelock and it is on that basis the whole of these contributions have been made and in the opinion of your executive this undertaking cannot now be departed from.

If you confirm the arrangement with Havelock we have a sum of £850 available for this purpose in Hastings.

Page 50


We are indebted to Mr Climie, Engineer, who took levels and prepared gratis an estimate of the cost of connecting the site with the sewer and water, and also to Mr Rush, architect, who has prepared, also gratis, a picture of the monument as it would appear for your inspector.

We also wish to express our appreciation of the extremely satisfactory manner in which the accounts have been kept by the Hon. Treasurer – Mr. A.I. Rainbow.

In arranging all the preliminaries as far as they have gone, we have kept the expenses down to the lowest possible limit.  Nothing has been done hastily or without full consideration and everything in connection with the undertaking has been carried out on sound, solid and practical lines.

The whole cost of administration from the beginning so far is £139 12s. and if the amount available is taken at £21,865 this amounts to about 44/1100 part of a penny in the pound. We trust this policy will meet with your approval.

Wm. Hart, J.H. Colebourne, D.E. Davis, Geo. Ebbett (Chairman), F. Perrin (Hon. Secretary)”

Mr O’Neill had died since the formation of the executive.  Mr. D.E. Davis left Hastings later. (These positions were left unfilled, till in 1927 Mr. G.A. Maddison was added.)


On the 21st December that year (1922) Dr. Frongley, Deputy Director-General of Health, wrote that the plan of the proposed Maternity Block left by Mr Geo. Ebbett had been considered and the suggested alterations as shown by the drawings appeared to “fit in nicely with the original scheme and should prove satisfactory”, and that he was retaining the plans to discuss with Mr Ebbett should he return to Wellington.

The 1st February next year brought a telegram from Mr. Johnson of the Health Department: –

“Plans proposed maternity hospital were considered favourably and returned to architects.”

These plans were somewhat altered from the fresh set we have already noted, for on 6th February the architects wrote saying they were of the opinion that the “final scheme submitted to you could be erected for the sum of 17,000 ”, which estimate “would include the whole of the Emergency Hospital as originally planned, with temporary provision for the Maternity cases to be housed therein:  the Outpatients’ Block and Matron’s Quarters portion of the Nurses’ Home and a temporary Laundry, “ with the exclusion as before of “ moveable stuff such as beds, medical and dinner trolleys, utensils, etc.,” and “any exterior layout such as drives, entrance gates, etc.”

Page 51


On 22nd March a proposal was made by Mr. Ebbett that the hospital site be transferred to the King (Government) in consideration of the £9000 subsidy, but as the Department intended immediately the hospital was ready for occupation to hand it over to the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board, Dr. Valintine thought (27th March) that it would be much simpler to do that directly instead of first to the King.

Mr. Ebbett, in reply, stated on April 16th: –

“I presume you will remember that our agreement which is distinctly on record more than once, was that your Department was to finance and administer the institution – of course, you may intend to make an arrangement with the Hospital Board to do it on your behalf and I am wishing merely to remind you of the position, of which the Board are aware and if we offer to transfer the land to them the members will be sure to know where they are in the matter.”


We insert here portion of a letter of 29th March from Mr. G. Spence to Mr. G. Ebbett: –

“I cannot agree that there should be any reference to the Hospital on this monument.  The monument should contain no reference to anything but the men themselves, in my opinion.  The moment you make it refer to anything else, or any other collateral memorial, you take away from its significance and dignity.  The only idea, to my mind, which it should induce in the mind of the beholder, be he stranger or local resident, is memory of the men whose names it bears – not an enquiry as to where the hospital is or why it was erected.  The hospital will doubtless have its own inscription and will make itself felt in quite a different way – through its alleviation of suffering and its usefulness in the community.  In saying this I am merely voicing my own ideas and those of everyone with whom I have discussed the matter.


On the 14th May Mr. N. Beamish, on behalf of the Hawke’s Bay County Council, wrote to the H.B. Hospital Board asking for “The number of patients admitted to Napier Hospital during the year ending 31/3/23, and those admitted from the Hastings Borough. “A return of those was prepared for the next meeting of the Hospital Board, and later published in the press by the County Council: –

Page 52

District   No. of Patients   Cost per Patient

Napier Borough   730   £5. 10s
Hastings Borough   590   £5. 16s
Havelock   50   £6. 14s
Taradale   80   £3. 9s
Hawke’s Bay County   370   £36. 7s

The hospital levy on the county for the ensuring year was £13,450 16s. 7d.  At the meeting of the council which received the above statistics it was decided to pay the levy as it was collected.  (This last point is to be noted as cropping up in the 1930-5 Depression, when the County Levies were paid only as collected, which was by no means in full, thus occasioning or being the main factors in the Hospital Board deficits of that period, and this matter of levies is also to be noted as perhaps having influenced the representation in the 1935 Hospital Board elections.)


The matter of whether Hastings was intended in any way to rival or take any of the functions or the Napier base hospital, or be a purely auxiliary hospital now came up, and on 31st May Mr. Ebbett writes to Dr. Valintine: –

“I have yours of the 30th for which I thank you.  I note your remarks “a central base hospital containing all the modern equipment, staffed by a team of specialists and divided into the numerous specialists and divided into the numerous departments now to be found in every up-to-date hospital.

In the other centres of the District would be subsidiary hospitals, equipped and staffed only to take cases that do not require specialist treatment.  I presume that practically all cases require specialist treatment except ordinary casualty cases and cases that are being held for observation.  If that is so it puts a different complexion on it.

“Personally I am in accord with that and in the natural order of things at the present time Napier must be the base.  I think you should approach the Hospital Board with your suggestion to take over this hospital and at the same time suggest a conference which would be the easier way of arriving at an understanding.”

This conference took place on 28th June, 1923, Dr Valintine and the Hastings Executive (Messrs. Ebbett, Colebourne, Davis, Perrin and Hart) meeting the Board.  Mr Ebbett “outlined the scheme suggested by his Committee, i.e. the erection of a casualty and Maternity Ward costing approximately £17,000 with accommodation for 12 Hospital Cases and 6 Maternity Cases.  He wished it to be understood that the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board should take over control of the Institution, the erection of which would be provided for by the appointment of a Committee in accordance with Section 64 of the Hospital and Charitable Institutions Act, 1909”.

Dr Valintine expressed sympathy with the proposal as outlined, and the Board desired the Committee to put the suggestions brought forward in writing in a letter for consideration at the Board’s next meeting.

Page 53


Though we can find no record of any further decision of the H. B. Hospital Board, nor of any such letter having been presented at its next meeting on 16th July, Mr. Ebbett seems to have had reason to feel he had something to go on (apparently as a result of an interview with Dr. Valintine in Hastings sometime after the 21st July), for on 3rd August he wrote to the architects that “the Executive had determined if at all possible to call for tenders on or about September 1st” and should be glad if they could have plans, etc. ready by then.  This the architects duly promised to do.

The H. B. Hospital Board minutes of 13th August note receipt of sketch plans of proposed hospital from Mr. Ebbett and letter re same, also statement that his Committee would be ready to call for tenders before the end of the month and suggestion of Joint Meeting, which it was thereupon decided should take place on Monday, the 27th – changed, however, to the 20th in a letter sent to Mr. Ebbett by the Board on the 15th, apparently as fitting in better, but owing to the sickness of the Board’s Chairman, Mr. J. B. Andrew, it had to be postponed.

Meanwhile Mr. Ebbett received on the 17th August the following telegram from Mr. Gilbert McKay, M. P. for  Hawke’s Bay: –

“Interviewed Dr. Valintine this morning have pleasure informing you sum £9,000 granted Hastings Maternity Hospital placed consolidated estimates public works department instalment £3000 available when required give press please.”


The H. B. Hospital Board, at its meeting of 17th September, decided on “accommodation” for 6 maternity cases and “buildings” for 14 emergency cases, “number of beds to be used” to be further discussed by the Board.

The Joint Committee was to meet and submit plans to Board for approval pending which the setting up of a Committee to proceed with buildings, the purchase of materials and appointment of a supervisor, and the question of management of the Institution were to be deferred.

The Committee’s proposals re Entrance Gates and calling the institution “The Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, were approved (All except the last two of these decisions promised delay, at the very least.

Dr Valintine, in a letter of 10th October to Mr. Geo. Ebbett, commented as follows: –

“I was interested to receive your letter of October the 4th and to hear how matters are going on.

I am somewhat surprised, however at the action of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board. I thought that they would be quite amicable to the Hastings proposal, but I suppose someone must have been going behind things.

I quite agree with you that under the circumstances it is very much better for your Committee not to press matters.  Certainly nothing should be done with a view to trying to force the position.

Page 54

I certainly rely on your Committee doing everything calculated to bring about an amicable arrangement with the Board with the Hastings Hospital in sight.”

The Hospital Board meeting of the 16th October decided to have a combined Committee meeting on October 24th to report to the Board, which was duly done, the report being received by the November meeting, without any comment being put on record in the Minutes.

On the 17th October Dr Valintine wrote to say that he had recently had the plans gone over again by Mr. Allen, one of the Department’s Technical Inspectors, and he had assured him that a saving of £4,000 could be effected in the erection of a building providing for exactly the same number of cases, if there was “any difficulty with the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board”, a piece of information he was passing on “ in case the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board raise any objection”.  The repetition is significant.


The Balance Sheet of the Memorial Committee as at 7th November, 1923, showed an invested balance in hand of £10,375 17s. 6d. or, with £281 16s. 6d. cash in current account £10,657 and 14s.

Payments out so far were: £2,796 18s. and 9d. on property (£2,707 on actual purchase and £78 12s. on fencing and trees, etc. with £11 6s. 9d. in legal expenses; £116 2s. 4d. had been paid out to the architect on account of Plans accepted;  £605 4s. 0d. had been paid out on sewer and water supply; and £1,877 was the cost of monuments   (£877 for Hastings cenotaph and £700 for the Havelock North War Memorial.

These payments give us a total of £15,752 19s. 1d. which had been paid into the fund one way and another and either spent or still invested awaiting the actual building.

Donations promised, but not yet paid, amounting to £3,468 8s. 0d. had not been taken into account (the £18,000 spoken of in Mr. Ebbett’s letter of 31st July, 1920, must surely have included these) nor interest accrued to 7th November, 1923, on Fixed Deposits.  (There was a cold comfort that delay increased the amount from this source.)

We must also remember that a Government subsidy of £9,000 could be counted on.


On the 10th November, Dr Valintine wrote again re new plans to save £4,000, on the lines suggested by Mr. Phillips of Hyland & Phillips and Mr Allan of his Department, this time to provide twenty beds as against twelve as originally planned, and which he thought would be more suitable for the Hastings district, both to meet the need for economy and the wishes of the Hospital Board.

He considered, therefore, that though, if the new sketch plans were found acceptable by the Hastings Committee and the Hospital Board, it would mean drawing fresh full-dress plans, the extra cost would be found to be justified.

Page 55

The reason why Mr. Phillips, of Hyland and Phillips, the Memorial Committee’s architects, is mentioned as being concerned in the drawing up of the new sketch plans, is that he had just been down to Wellington and seen Dr. Valintine.

Mr Ebbett replied to the effect that the new sketch plans appealed to him more than the old ones.

They also appealed to the Hospital Board, at it’s meeting of 10th December, and it was decided that if the Joint Committee was satisfied, they should be sent to Wellington for Ministerial approval, upon receipt of which a special meeting of the Board was to be called.  The Joint Committee met on the 13th February, but no special meeting of the Board was called, the next Board meeting being held on the 11th February, 1924.


The abandonment of the first set of plans, with the consequent necessity for the preparation of a completely new set, brought a fresh difficulty.

The architects, Messrs. Hyland and Phillips, naturally claimed payment in full (£901 0s. 8d.) for the original plans, while on the new plans “further fees amounting to some £700” would be payable, “apart from any question of supervision in connection with the new buildings.”

Mr. A.I. Rainbow, the Treasurer, communicated this position to Mr. Ebbett in a letter of 13th December, saying that: –

“Through no fault of the Executive Committee the original plans have had to be scrapped, and the position is that the fund is faced with the cost of two or more sets of plans at full scale rates, less a discount of £200. To put it in figures, some 10% of the subscribed funds are due to the Architects before a single brick is laid.”

He also commented that Messrs. Massey, Hyland, and Phillips seemed to have “quite missed the spirit which made possible the work upon which they were engaged,” and felt that he should be failing in his duty to the subscribers if this matter was not fully ventilated before further payments were made.”

£321. 0s. 8d. had already been paid, and as a further £300 had been discussed by the Executive and passed, he was signing the cheque therefore, but he desired Mr. Ebbett to know that he would sign no further cheques “until authorised to do so by a full meeting of the Committee, such meeting to be called by letter setting out the above matter in detail.

This, for reasons which will be explained later in their place, was not found advisable. (see pages 58-61)

The architects, in reply to Mr. Ebbett’s request, informed him politely in a letter of 17th December that having already made a donation of £200 (noted above as discount), they did not see their way to contribute further to the Memorial Fund.

Page 56

Seeing that, as Mr. Ebbett afterwards learned and acknowledged (December 21)  a member of the firm who had retired some short time before had been allowed his full share in connection with the work done on the plans, etc. of the hospital in mutual adjustment of the accounts, on the basis that the full fees would eventually be received by the architects, any further concession by Hyland and Phillips was indeed, from their point of view, obviously impossible.

Mr. Ebbett thereupon promised that when the matter came up at the meeting, in fairness to them, he would explain this. Meanwhile it was necessary to refer the whole circumstance to the Committee before they did pay.

On receipt of this information, the architects (on 24th December)  made it very clear that they would not in such an event be able to accept any compromise, citing their great expenses, of which they appended a schedule, giving actual costs apart from expenses and time, and their long careful labour, and remarking that they thought they were going to be asked to “donate a greater subscription, in proportion to our means than most”.

They also mentioned that other work had had to be shelved and therefore not paid them so far, on account of the Hospital plans, and thought that they had clearly shown that up to that time they could consider their energies on the Hospital unremunerative “and frankly we cannot afford to submit to such a proposition.”

Mr. Ebbett considered that they had at least some ground for refusing a further reduction unless they (the architects) were prepared to make some sacrifice – and unfortunately they (the Committee) had found their attitude in the matter does not indicate such sacrifice on their part.”

This was part of a letter of February 14th, 1924, which Mr. Ebbett had found it advisable to write to Dr. Valintine, the Hastings people having got as far as they could with the architects and failed to get them to reduce their charges for the abandoned plans.  He went on to say: “We must have a meeting of the Committee almost at once and I would be glad if you  would furnish a reply to our request that your department should meet the architect’s charges for these plans for reasons set out in my previous letter and for which I submit we were in no way responsible.”

We recognise that for reasons probably beyond your control you had to ask if you could be allowed to withdraw your undertaking but we hope you will agree that we should not be penalised on that account.”


Meanwhile the Hospital Board had been preparing further sketch plans of its own sending them to the Department.  Dr. Valintine wrote on 6th March enclosing for Mr. Ebbett’s approval a reply to its communication he was sending to the Hospital Board and stating: –

“We have undoubtedly got into rather a mess over the plans, but I cannot see that the Department is to blame.  The original plan was not approved by the Board.

Page 57

“If we adhere to the original plans there will be no difficulty with regard to the architect I presume your Committee will pay for the first plans without question.  But will this embroil with you the Hospital Board?”

There was good reason for this last question, seeing that according to his enclosed letter to the Hospital Board, a draft plan had been received from the Board’s Architects, along with a letter asking the Department’s approval thereto, but with, however no estimate of cost, which was necessary before the Department could give a decision.

Dr. Valintine continued: –

“Owing to service rooms and lavatory accommodation having to be approved for three small units, it would appear that the cost of building will be considerably greater than that furnished by the first plans submitted by the Hastings Committee; also, will prove more costly than that outlined by the sketch plan made by Mr. Phillips and the Department.

Placing Nurses’ quarters over a ward is not viewed with favour by the Department, neither is the position of the sanitary accommodation.

In the event of the latest proposals being preceded with entirely, new plans and specifications will have to be drawn up for a building which will cost a greater sum than the original.  Moreover, the Architects are likely to claim for the preparation of the first plan.

Should this assumption prove correct, and in view of the fact that the first set of plans met with the Department’s approval is your Board prepared to meet the cost of these original plans?


In a private letter to Mr. Ebbett on the same date Dr. Valintine remarked that the Hospital Board’s proposal would cost as much as working by Hyland and Phillips’ original plan, which last the Department was willing to approve.  The responsibility for the “charges in connection with the plans” therefore rested with the Committee.

Mr. Ebbett’s reply of March 10 we quote in full: –

“I have your letter of March 6th. I am sorely afraid the issue which is now being raised will be the undoing of an agreement with the Hospital Board which has necessitated months of hard work and almost infinite patience to bring about.

We have managed to get the Board to approve unanimously of a plan which we are willing to accept  but a number of the members are not sympathetic, they have expressed themselves as definitely opposed to the original plans and I do not think there is a chance of them agreeing to them, and moreover if the question is raised now that will probably mean as I have said the ‘utter shattering of the whole arrangements.’

Not only is it not wise, but I don’t think it is fair to ask the Board to pay the cost of them.  That plan was prepared between your department and ourselves on the distinct agreement that your Department would take over

Page 58

the institution and the Board did not authorise them, were not consulted about them, in fact did not even know of them officially and were not identified with them in any way and it is not very likely they will view favourably a suggestion that they pay for them. If they would agree to adopt your original plans that does not help the position a bit because the plans of the second building proposed will probably cost as much as the plans of the other.  Any suggestion that the Board should pay for the plans will raise difficulty at once, because the foundation of the agreement with them is that we erect the building and pay for it and hand it over to them.  Candidly I think in all fairness your department should pay for them and after all if you escape the undertaking you have given, isn’t it a cheap way out?

Without committing anyone to anything, I think that every member of the committee here is willing to meet you but, not at a cost of £500 or £600 in connection with something for which we are in no way responsible.

I am most certainly of opinion that you should come through here as soon as possible (which Dr. Valintine had thought advisable, as he felt much could be cleared up thereby), because the public are most impatient, and we can’t go on much longer without revealing the position fully and that would be exceedingly unwise unless we are able to disclose a satisfactory position.”

Dr. Valintine duly arrived and discussed the matter on the 24th of March, and as we shall see, as a result of his visit the architects were finally brought to terms.  (see Page 59).


Concerning supervision the Hastings Committee had “always intended to arrange” it’s own, because it looked upon supervision by an architect “on the job only at intervals as being worth little or nothing.” However, owing to the circumstances which had arisen and provided they could give some assurance that there would be at least reasonable supervision, it agreed (March 28th) to give it to the architects on the condition that their charge was 1½%.  That meant it paid £400 for the first plans, ordinary full fees for the new ones, except the supervision and 1¼% for that.

The architects were not prepared (April 1st) to enter into my agreement regarding the time they should put in on the site, or the number of visits they would make, but said they would give the building thorough Architectural supervision, and the lack of an agreement would make them none the less thorough in that respect.

On April 12th the Architects stated that whether or not they were employed to do the supervision, it was their intention “to supply a thoroughly a complete set of drawings and specifications, including ½” scale and full size details, “sufficient, if the supervision was reliable, to properly complete the building.

Mr. Ebbett on the 14th thanked them for the information “as far as it goes”, noting that if the Committee employed a supervisor, whose duty it was not to interfere in any way with their instructions but merely to see that they were carried out and to refer all questions to them, were they and all the partners of their firm prepared to work with the supervisor in a proper helpful spirit and with the object of assisting to have the

Page 59

construction carried out smoothly and satisfactorily.

This assurance was duly given.


With a satisfactory arrangement now made with Messrs. Hyland and Phillips the work was at last ready to be pushed on as soon as the architects had finished preparing the plans and estimates, for which a letter of May 5th advises Mr. Ebbett to worry them, so that there would be “no further delay than is necessary and inseparable from these public works.”

A letter of 6th May from Dr. Valintine noted that the Committee had come to a satisfactory arrangement with the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board re the plans, as also with the architects, and conveyed Departmental approval of the plans, congratulating the Committee on its tact and forebearance.


The plans and estimates were evidently now the main factor of delay, and on 8th July they were still incomplete.

The architects noted that they had “purposely postponed making out the estimates until the working drawings reached a more complete state in order that the quantities would be accurate and consequently the estimate reliable,” and were of the opinion that the estimates would be ready for consideration within a fortnight, while the completed drawings and specifications, which they had considered would be ready at the end of the month, would require say three weeks more.

They also wished to know exactly the position on the proposed site for taking levels.


The estimates were finally ready on July 22nd and came to a total of £20,700, made up as follows: –

“Main Building, comprising Male and Female accident wards, Maternity Section, Kitchen Block, Nurses’ Home, etc.   £19,500

The Laundry and Man’s Room, which is detached from the Main Block   £1,200

The above was the cost of the Buildings complete, but not including the lay-out of paths and drives, gates or Architects fees.

As the above amounts were in excess of the sum allotted for the buildings, the architects awaited further instructions, which took the form of asking if the plans could not be modified in some way to be less costly.

Page 60

The architects promptly (23rd) replied that they were “of the opinion that, by certain modifications of the existing plans, the main building could be erected for   £18,500, and the Laundry and Man’s Room   £850, making a total of £19,350”.

They were convinced that a new scheme would have to be arrived at if the cost was to be any less than the above figures.


On the Board being written to the next day (24th), information was sent back on the 29th that Messrs. J.B.  Andrew (Chairman), W.J. McGrath, W.P. Griffith, J. Harris and C.O. Morse had been constituted a sub-committee of the Board to confer with the members of the Memorial Committee regarding plans, etc.

Mr. Ebbett wrote back on the 1st August that the site having been paid for and the sewer and water connections made and paid for, there was no [now] in actual cash on deposit about £10,700 and a Government subsidy of £9,000 promised or together £19,700.

As against this the cost of the buildings complete “with lighting, water, heating and also baths, basins and such like” but not including layout of paths or architects’ fees, was estimated at £20,700.

The only suggestion the architects could make re reductions was “to cut out the nursery and use a room about the centre of the building for that purpose and to cut out the drying room in the laundry which would bring the cost down to £19,350.

The Committee thought such a proceeding would be regrettable but if it were not done the building cost of £20,700 with architect fees say: £1,300, making a total of £22,000 would leave on the £19,700 available a deficit of £2,300.

As against that, outstanding promised subscriptions amounted to £3,455. 7s .0d. but a proportion of these no doubt could not be collected.  £2,377 (see list of items on pages 187-8 of source notes) was considered good, while a number of smaller ones were thought to be quite good, and would “certainly bring this sum up to £2,500.  There was also the chance that the estimate was high.

“We are, however,” continued Mr. Ebbett, only a private committee with no power and if there was a small deficiency we could have no means of getting it except to go round again with a hat.

On the other hand if we cut out what the architect suggests, we think that it certainly would tend to spoil the whole structure which we consider very good as it is and the architects say that any further attempt to reduce the cost means a new scheme altogether which would mean going through the whole process again and another very long delay.

We would be glad if your Board would consider the position and we ask that they also consider the matter of assuming the responsibility should it happen that there is any deficiency.  We might say that so far we have not endeavoured to collect these amounts outstanding but once the building was under way we

Page 61

would immediately commence to canvass to collect then and unless something very unforeseen happens, we have little doubt we can get them.  I suggest it might be wise to take this matter in Committee.  “Whether or no, of course these names (i.e. list of outstanding items as page 187-8 of source notes) must not be published and if your Board does agree to assume any responsibility there may be,  it would not be advisable to publish that because we still particularly want to be able to say we must have these outstanding subscriptions to furnish the building”.

As Mr. Ebbett saw the Chairman, Mr. Andrews [Andrew] , and discussed it with him the letter was not actually sent.

Mr. Andrews was of opinion that it would be wise to call for tenders and  see what they were, and if it appeared there would be a deficiency, then to approach the Hospital Board, in the meantime just writing to the Board and informing them that the plans had been settled and asking them to approve of the proposal to call for tenders.  He concluded by suggesting a general meeting the following week.

As Mr. Ebbett said in a letter of August 6th to Mr. W. Hart: –

“I can see the point of this but it leaves us in this unfortunate position.  The Board have our undertaking to pay for these buildings and hand them over clear.  If the Board refuses now to take any responsibility the plans can be altered.  If the plans are completed and the specifications are prepared and tenders called and the lowest tender shows that there will be deficiency for it we are committed to go on with the job and shoulder the liability ourselves or else pay for these plans, etc. and adopt another less expensive scheme.”

Messrs. Hyland and Phillips were meanwhile instructed to cease work on the plans and specifications pending clarification of the position, as the Committee was determined not to build unless it had sufficient money to carry out any plan adopted.


A meeting of the joint committee from the Hospital Board and the Hastings Memorial Executive was held on Tuesday, 19th August, and a general meeting of the Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldier’s Memorial Committee on August 22nd.

We give in full the report of the Executive (Messrs. J.H. Colebourne, Wm Hart, D.H. Davis, F. Perrin and Geo. Ebbett) at this general meeting, as giving a useful resume of the events which had taken place, as seen by the most closely engaged participants therein: –

“Since the last general meeting a number of difficulties have arisen in connection with this undertaking.

It will be remembered that at first it was proposed this should be a state institution controlled and administered by the Government and in the course of time during which the architect made two or three journeys to Wellington to consult with the Health Office experts and specifications were prepared and were practically ready for submission on that basis.  Your executive, however, always had the gravest doubts as to the wisdom of this method of control. It is clear that a Hastings hospital cannot provide for all

Page 62

hospital cases which may arise in Hastings and the surrounding districts and that those requiring special treatment and others must of necessity go to Napier for it.

In this proposal we could see an everlasting contest between the Department in Wellington and the Hospital Board in Napier as to whose responsibility any particular patient or class of patients was and the patient would continually be the chopping block for days or perhaps longer while this question was argued out.  Having this in view we could see it was very improbable, under the conditions which would exist, that these two bodies could work amicably together and that the position would be {sic.} very unsatisfactory to those who were unfortunate enough to require treatment.

The Health Department evidently saw difficulties also and they requested us to consent to the institution being controlled and administered by the Napier Board.  After consideration we decided this would be the wiser course and we agreed, but as we have pointed out the plans and specifications for a building on the former basis had already been prepared, and as they provided for buildings and an institution generally more expensive than we could possibly afford they had to be abandoned and we asked the Health Department to pay the cost of preparing them.  The Department would not agree to this but offered to prepare the plans, etc. and supervise the construction of a suitable building by its officials from Wellington.

We saw this meant considerable delay and left ample room for confusion and irritation and misunderstanding with this Committee and we thought it inadvisable to agree.  A difference of opinion then arose with the architects as to the amount of the fees payable for the discarded plans.

They asked a sum which they, no doubt, considered to be justified.  We thought it was too much.

There was no ill feeling and we were both no doubt honest in our opinions.  After much negotiation the matter was finally settled on a basis acceptable to both parties.

The plans of a suitable building within our means were then commenced and their preparation has occupied months of our time, much longer than it would under ordinary circumstances, but the Health Department in Wellington and a committee of the Hospital Board in Napier had to be consulted as to each proposal in connection with them.  They have been considered and reconsidered and altered and rearranged to such an extent that the plan now settled has little resemblance to the one originally submitted, and on this we have received very valuable assistance from the department and from the hospital subcommittee.  It is largely owing to the trouble they have gone to and the interest they have taken that we are now able to say, considering the money available and all the circumstances these plans are as good as they can be made and in our opinion they cannot now be improved without additional cost.

We met the Hospital Board Committee last Tuesday and they have agreed that tenders be invited as soon as the plans etc. are ready.

We desire to place on record our appreciation of the manner in which the board have met us.  In every case they have been very reasonable and considerate and we desire to especially mention our indebtedness to the members of the Hospital Board sub-committee whose experience in Hospital matters enabled them to render assistance which has been of the greatest help to us in framing this design and which was always willingly given.

Page 63

We believe these buildings will prove to be satisfactory and we have no hesitation in saying that without that assistance the design of them could not have been made nearly as thorough and satisfactory as we believe it to be.  The front of the building is two storied and will face the East and it is 88 feet wide.  The building has been designed and the actual site on the land so fixed as to provide the most shelter and the maximum sunshine for the patients.  Its total length as seen from the North is 238 feet.  It provides for 7 female patients and 8 males and 8 maternity patients, there being separate entrances for each class of patient and the wards for each class are as far apart as the building will permit.  It is so designed that some of the beds may be used for either class.  If necessary 10 more beds could be provided by utilising verandah space.

There is also a labour ward, Doctors’ room, operating theatre, Steriliser room, sink room, and all necessary bath rooms and convenience downstairs.  Upstairs provision is made for the accommodation and comfort of the nurses and matron, 10 bedrooms, 2 sitting rooms and 2 large balconies, and also upstairs, but having no connection with the nurses’ accommodation 5 bedrooms have been provided for the use of the staff.  The laundry and drying room and a man’s bedroom are contained in a detached building.

There is still outstanding in promised subscriptions a sum of £4466 8s. and if these buildings are to be completed and paid for, it is imperative that these accounts should be collected.

It is most difficult to arrange expenditure unless one knows for certain what one has to expend and we trust that those responsible for these promises will see that they are fulfilled at the earliest possible date.

We are again indebted to Mr. Rainbow for the excellent manner in which the accounts have been kept and for the clear and explicit statements as to the financial position supplied to us whenever replied”.


Mr. Ebbett further explained the whole position very candidly and also very fairly in a letter of 26th August to Mr. H.W.C. Baird, who had not been quite satisfied with the amount of information given out at the meeting and wanted particularly to know why general meetings had not been called more frequently.

Copies of the letter were also sent to Messrs. Wm. Hart and Holderness and to Mrs. Williams.  It runs as follows: –

“It was easy to see at the meeting on Friday that you were not quite satisfied owing to the fact that meetings of the committee had not been called more often.  I am writing because we have not the slightest earthly objection to you or any other ordinary discreet member of the committee knowing the whole facts but when you know then you will recognise that they could not be made public as there are 60 odd members of the committee a disclosure to the committee means a public disclosure.
As you know the plans were practically ready on the assumption that this would be a government institution.  Then it was agreed for reasons which you also know that the Board should take it over.  It is true that long previously and before any hospital committee had ever been formed in Hastings I took the matter up where it had been left and I got the Board to agree to the principle of hospital accommodation in Hastings but then we had to collect the money,  the building restrictions intervened and there came the boom when owing to the cost of building it would have been stupidity to have commenced and in the meantime practically the whole personnel of the Board had changed and when

Page 64

we met them again we found them most reluctant to consider it.

We put the proposal to them and we saw at once the position required the most delicate handling and the atmosphere at all the meetings was such that we dare not press the proposal.  We went to a number of meetings and accomplished nothing because they would not volunteer to do anything and we were unanimous that we dare not attempt to force them.  We knew the resolution affirming the principle was on their minute and we were determined to give them their own time so that there could be no excuses to evade it and we knew that we dare not push the matter, without taking a serious risk of a breach and a termination of all the negotiations.

Bear in mind we didn’t blame the Board.  It is easy to see these things from your own point of view, but much more difficult to see it from the other man’s and the establishment of a second Hospital in this district was a big question, not because of the initial cost, but because of the maintenance  and the entirely new position and grave responsibilities which were being brought about as between Napier and Hastings and we saw it required very serious consideration at the hands of the Board.

I think we waited six or seven months, but our patience was well rewarded.  After a time they examined the plans already prepared and subsequently intimated that they could not accept them and we agreed because that building was estimated to cost £33,000.  Through the whole of that time we couldn’t call a meeting and tell the public that we could do nothing with the Hospital Board because they would not move. We know the feeling which exists over this question and we realised that this Hospital had to be administered by the Board for all time and that if we couldn’t get them to take it up in the right spirit better by far they shouldn’t take it up at all.

The former plans had to be abandoned and the Architects (selected by the Committee) were instructed to prepare the plans of a modified scheme.

We requested their account for the first plan with the intention of getting the Health Department to pay it.  They sent in an account for £901.  Seeing they had the job with full fees attached to it still before them and that the abandonment of the former plans was brought about by circumstances entirely beyond our control and through no fault of ours, we thought that full fees were out of the question and we asked for a reduction and we were met with a blank refusal.

We continued to correspond and negotiate with them with great forbearance, but our representations were of no avail and we were at last forced to go to Dr. Valintine with the full account.  He expressed himself as being simply astonished at the charge considering the circumstances and refused to pay it.  Finally after two or three months he came to Hastings and we all met the Architects.  Dr. Valintine would not pay, but suggested that the matter be taken out of their hands and he offered to have the plans prepared and the new building supervised by his officials in Wellington.  You can see there was no wisdom in this, but it brought the Architects to terms and we settled the question of fees and got an appreciable reduction in their fees in respect of the new plans.

(Their claim had been £680 for fees and supervision on the first plans, plus 6½% of £18,000 for the same on the second, making a total of £1,850.  Mr. Ebbett offered £400 plus 4% on £800 – £720 – plus 1¼% on £1800 – £235 – less £225 for supervision on the first plan making ₤1345.

Page 65

Dr Valintine’s offer would have cost £700, so the difference was to be ₤650 if the architects accepted.  The architects then offered to reduce to ₤380 for the first plans plus ₤1200 for the second and supervision, making ₤1580, and giving Dr Valintine’s offer an advantage of about £900, which it was pointed out would be difficult to refuse.

Finally the architects came down to ₤1435, including supervision, against an offer of ₤1345, and the matter was finally settled on a non-supervision basis.)

During all this time surely no one will argue that it would have been wise or in the interests of this undertaking to call what was really a public meeting and publish the details of a difference of this kind.

We then commenced on the new plans and I admit they have taken time, but if we were doing them again we would require the same time because what we do we do as thoroughly as circumstances will permit.  We push the matter all we know, but whether we take one month or six doesn’t matter so long as it’s done well in the end and seeing a Department in Wellington and a Board in Napier had both to be consulted on every occasion I assure you we lost no time.  You may say a meeting could have convened anyhow, but then I would have been questioned and I won’t lie.   I may know how to evade things, but under these circumstances it wouldn’t do my reputation any good because later on it would have been known that we deceived everybody and the reason for it would not then have been appreciated.

But what purpose did it serve to call a general meeting before the plans were settled.  There was nothing to discuss and you will agree that we couldn’t explain matters.  I dare say there are a good many experts in hospital construction on the Committee but that it would not have helped any.  When the plans were settled five or six weeks ago we got an estimate of the cost, ₤22,000.  With the cash in hand and the cash we were reasonably likely to receive we could build on ₤22,000 to spend and that assumed the estimate was sound and allowed not a penny for contingencies.

We could not arrive at the actual cost without calling for tenders and we could not do that without completing the plans, etc.

If we did that and called for tenders and the cost proved to be above the estimate we were committed to the job with a certainty of deficiency at the finish and no money to pay for it with and if we didn’t go on with it we were committed to the architect for another ₤700 or ₤800 in fees because we were advised that any appreciable reduction in the cost meant a new design altogether.  For about six weeks we have been trying to get the Hospital Board to undertake the responsibility of the deficiency if there is one and they have not undertaken it yet, but they have authorised completion of the plans, etc. and the calling of tenders and while there is no promise, the indications are that if there is a deficiency and it is not too big, they will agree to pay it but if they don’t there will be more difficulty and delay, because I at any rate am determined that no contract will be signed unless we can see our way reasonably to complete payment for it.  I am not going to have a contractor clamouring after me for money and nothing to pay it with and I think my colleagues will agree with that.

Finally we have always kept in mind that on the completion of this building our relations with the Board don’t cease.  If they did it would be an entirely different thing.  They must continue and if they are not friendly no success can attend the administration of this institution and it is therefore of paramount importance that cordiality should be maintained between us at any cost.

Page 66

I think this will help you to understand the cause of the delay and why meetings have not been called.  You can rely on it that if they had been and these things had been publicly discussed on the street corners, the hospital would have been a long way further off than it is.  It would have been another harbour question inside five minutes and nothing could ever have been accomplished.

Our relations with the Board are good at present; we have them quite friendly towards this enterprise and even now it would be very unwise to discuss these things publicly.  Still you’re a member of the Committee and we do not desire to conceal anything and the risk must be taken.  In your case it is small but in others it may have been great.

The whole question is one of confidence in the executive and if the Committee haven’t got it the sooner some others are in our place the better.  I have worked on it continually for getting on to five years and I’m sick and tired of it.  Had I devoted one half of the energy and perseverance which I have given to this to my own interests I could have earned at least ₤1,000 and yet it has occupied a lot of my time and has brought me endless work and worry and I realise there can be no reward”.

Page 67


On The Way 1924 – 1926


From now on, though slowly, and with frequent halts and delays, definite progress was made.

What we may call the first sod of the Memorial Hospital – apart from preliminary water and sewer connections previously carried out – was turned on August 27th, 1924, when the architects (Messrs. Hyland and Phillips) visited the site and pegged out the position and took the necessary levels.  They required, however to know the formation below the surface, and asked for immediate authority to employ a man to dig three or four trial pits.


They also stated that while they had received a letter from the Secretary of the H. B. Hospital Board, giving the instructions to proceed with the plans for the Memorial Hospital, Mr. Ebbett’s letter of the 8th inst. had advised them to withhold work on the Drawings until further notice, and they therefore considered that to put the business in order, notice to proceed should come direct from him.

This was duly given, but the drawings took a good deal more time, partly as the architects explained in a letter of 8th November, in answer to an enquiry why they were not completed within the estimated time, because they were drawing all the full size and ½” scale details  then, whereas the custom was to prepare these as the building proceeded and the details were required; a course rendered necessary on account of the independent supervisor probably being employed, in which case they considered he should be provided with all the information at the commencement of the work.

Mr. H. Eric Phillips also candidly admitted the he had completely underestimated the time required. The firm was now of the opinion that “the whole of the drawings, specifications, details, etc.” would be ready in five weeks time.

Pending the completion of these plans, a request came from the Hospital Board, following its meeting of 17th November, that the Honorary Staff, in conjunction with the Medical Superintendent, be given an opportunity of perusal of the suggested plans, as they had desired more opportunity for examination and consideration thereof.


The plans came to hand by the next meeting of the Board on December 15th, when the Honorary staff was asked to expedite its report.

(These plans were apparently advance drafts, for the Architects notified Mr. Ebbett on the 17th December that the complete set of Plans, Specifications, ½” scale Drawings and Full Size Details for the Building would be completed and handed over to him that week.)

Page 68

The Honorary Staff, on inspecting the plans, reported (19th December) that they could arrive at no final conclusion without further information as to how the Hospital was to be staffed and how it was to be conducted. If it was to be conducted as a clearing station for the Napier Hospital they would say that it was too large, whereas if it was to be conducted as an independent Hospital they would say it was too small. If it was to be regarded as an emergency Hospital for the Hastings district then they would point out that there would be frequent accident cases, which would be impossible to treat without an X-ray outfit.

They therefore reported that they could not criticise the plans finally until further information was available.

With the opening of 1925, it was now the turn of the completed Plans, etc. to go before the Board. As the plans first sent were merely drafts, Mr. Ebbett to avoid a possible cause of delay, asked the Architects to send a covering letter, (which they duly did, on February 11th, 1925) assuring the Board that the full drawings and specifications they would receive through the Hastings Memorial Committee were in accordance with the draft plans which had “already been approved” by the Board.

In informing the Board of his asking the architects to send this covering letter and notifying the forwarding by his Committee of the complete plans, Mr. Ebbett stated that if the Board came to a decision at its coming meeting the Memorial Committee intended to send the architect to Wellington to interview the Health Department and obtain its approval and thus avoid any undue delay in that direction.

We may note here that on 12th February the funds invested totalled ₤10,518 12s. 1d., while ₤370 accrued interest and overdraft ₤285 6s. 6d. more or less balanced.

The Board at its meeting of 16th February approved the complete plans, with comments by the Honorary Staff, and decided to have them sent to the Department of Health, they being sent back to Mr. Ebbett for this purpose, through Mr. Hyland. The Hastings Committee was also supplied with a copy of the Honorary Staff’s report. In forwarding the plans to the Minister, Mr. Ebbett was asked to draw attention there to the suggestion that an X-ray plant would be required, as if this was necessary it would probably mean some internal structural alteration.

Mr. Ebbett duly sent the plans to the Director-General (Dr. Valintine), who was glad to learn of the Hospital Board’s approval and stated that providing of course that there had been no change in plans there would be no difficulty in the Board going on with the work at once.

If it was found necessary to send for the Architects responsible they would telegraph to save all the time they possibly could.

On 24th February a circular was sent round to those who had promised amounts to the Memorial Fund.


At a conference which had been held in Napier with the Hospital Board and the Department’s representative, Mr. Allan, it had been agreed to approve of the plans subject to an alteration suggested by the Department, and

Page 69

the Hastings Committee at once instructed the architects to make the necessary alterations and call for tenders, which were duly advertised.

In writing to the Director-General on March 12, however, Mr. Ebbett did not “think it would be wise to withdraw the matter” at that stage and said that in any case no great harm could be done as long as no contract was entered into. He said he was having a meeting of the Committee convened immediately, but would make every endeavour to go to Wellington with the Chairman of the Hospital Board to discuss the matter with Dr. Valintine.

The hitch was due to further stipulations and suggestions by the Honorary staff at the Napier Hospital, and reference was made at the Hospital Board meeting of March 16 to the amount of Press criticism the honorary staff was receiving on that account.

Arrangements re building were meanwhile continued, and on March 20 an agreement was made with Mr. E.J. Harman to act as Clerk of the Works.

An interview as desired was arranged between Dr. Valintine and Messrs. Ebbett and J.B. Andrew (Chairman of the Hospital Board and then Mayor of Napier) for the 25th March, and arrangements were made meanwhile to extend the closing date for the reception of tenders.


The matter at issue was apparently cleared up at this conference, and by the Hospital Board meeting of 18th May the Memorial Committee had received the tenders, the lowest being about ₤25,000 as against the Architect’s estimate of about ₤22,000, and as funds in hand and available were between ₤21,500 and ₤22,000, there was a deficiency of between ₤3000 and ₤4000. The only way to possibly raise more money was a “Hospital Day”, which might bring in ₤1000. A deputation from the Memorial Committee therefore asked the Board to place a sum on the estimates to meet the deficiency.

The Board thereupon decided to allocate ₤3500 for this purpose and also decided that subject to the Health Department’s approval of the foregoing arrangement, the Sub-Committee of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board and the Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Committee act jointly in accepting a tender.


On May 22nd Mr. Ebbett wrote very fully to Mr. Chas. S. Allen, the Building Supervisor of the Health Department, setting out in detail the situation to date and what was desired. We therefore quote it in full: –

“We invited tenders for the construction of this building locally, in Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston and in one or two other places. We received five tenders and the lowest was ₤24,900, about ₤3000 more than the architect’s estimate and about ₤3500 more than the money we have in hand or as good as in hand. As your department is aware, we have already had to pay for and then scrap one set of plans owing to an alteration in your policy.

Throughout we have continually stressed with the architects the importance of designing a building the cost of which was within our means but it seems that in these days under estimates cannot be avoided. We had a full meeting of the Committee and it was suggested we would abandon these plans and start on still a third lot. This was met with a unanimous and stormy protest.

Page 70

A deputation was appointed to wait on the Hospital Board which they did and in view of the circumstances and the fact that the people of the District had subscribed about ₤17,000 for this purpose the Board agreed to make a grant of ₤3500 towards the cost and to place that sum on their estimates for next year. We are aware that your Department has to approve of the Board’s estimates. Now that Doctor Valintine is away and the acting Director will have no such intimate knowledge of the circumstances as he had I surmise the issue to some extent will remain with you. In view of the effort which has been made by large numbers of people to get this money together and of the almost interminable delay which has already taken place and the tremendous worry involved I hope the department will see its way to approve so that we may have an end of the matter. We will still have ₤1000 to collect for architects’ and supervision fees but we will find means to get that. We have kept a tenderer hung in suspense for three weeks already and I trust it can be dealt with soon.

I am sure nothing but these plans which have been approved by the Board and the Department will be accepted, even if it means that the whole of Hastings has to come to interview the Minister. After all the position of Napier and Hastings has no parallel in New Zealand; there are no other two towns of such size and importance so close together, and might I ask you in considering this matter to remember that we had the department’s unreserved promise to take this institution over and maintain it and that for no consideration the department asked to be allowed to withdraw from the promise. As a matter of fact, we have never agreed to it. On December 14th 1923 I wrote to Dr. Valintine setting out the whole facts and dealing with this request I stated our attitude thus “we resolved not to commit ourselves in the meantime because if an arrangement could not be made with the Board we might find ourselves with the money or with an institution which nobody would take.” And further in the same letter “subject to there being no further hitch which may demolish the whole thing we would be unanimously prepared to recommend that the proposed arrangement be confirmed etc.” (No copy found of this letter, Mr. Ebbett’s copy apparently in other file almost as big lost in earthquake”.) The “proposed arrangement” meant the proposition to allow the department to withdraw its promise and get the Board to take over. In short, we did not intend to agree until such time as we were sure we could get on with a hospital satisfactory to us under an amicable arrangement with the Board.

This is not a threat in any shape whatever but I submit it is a sound, solid reason why your department should facilitate this project in every way it can and I trust it will do so.”

Mr. Allen thought the matter was one of policy which only the permanent Head of the Department could deal with, and therefore left decision until he could see and speak with Dr. Watt, who, like Dr. Valintine, though not for so long a period, was also out of Wellington.


The Hospital Board had also written to the Department after its meeting of May 18, but receiving no satisfaction, nor reply (Dr. Valintine was out of the country and Dr. Watt did not have his knowledge of nor consequently interest in the matter), decided at its meeting of 15th June to send a joint delegation to Wellington to interview “The Minister in charge of hospitals, and endeavour to obtain a definite answer in regard to the ₤9000 placed on the Government estimates, and the ₤3500 promised to be placed on the estimates

Page 71

of this Board for the Hastings War Memorial Hospital.” The Chairman was to go as the Board’s delegate “in conjunction with the Hastings Committee, whom the M.P.s for the district were to be requested to back up.

In writing on June 26, to the M.P.s to secure their assistance to the delegation, Mr. Ebbett stated that it was now about five weeks since the application for approval was made by the Board to the Health Department and no reply had ever been received, and that both Hastings in Mr. McKay’s electorate (H.B.) and Havelock in the electorate of Sir Geo. Hunter (Waipawa) were concerned in this matter, and he had heard that Sir Geo. Hunter had already been approached and asked to assist by some of the subscribers to the Fund in Havelock. (Mr. McIlvride (Napier) was not asked, it evidently being considered he was not directly concerned. The Hospital Board brought this up at its July meeting and apologies were made. The next time there was a delegation – October – Mr. Ebbett went out of his way to see that he was included.)

He believed every member of the Hospital Board was in favour of the project except possibly one, and under those circumstances it would, he thought, be entirely contrary to the custom of the Department to oppose the Board on a matter of that kind.

On the same day that Mr. Ebbett wrote thus to the two members, the Secretary of the Hospital Board had forwarded him a letter dated 22nd June from the Acting Director-General of Health, Dr. H.H. Watt, who wrote that he had proposed to visit Napier in the near future for the purpose of discussing the matter with the Board and the Hastings War Memorial Committee, but as there was going to be a deputation he was going to defer action meanwhile.

Mr. Ebbett immediately thought, in replying to the Hospital Board Secretary on the 27th, that it would be infinitely better if Dr. Watt could come to Napier and also visit Hastings as he had stated he had proposed to do and let them discuss the matter with him there, showing him the site and explaining the position on the spot where it could be much more easily explained, instead of sending a deputation to Wellington to see him and the Minister there.

If it was necessary they could subsequently go to the Minister, but he doubted if that would be necessary.

He suggested that if the Chairman of the Hospital Board (Mr. Andrew) agreed, he, Mr. Ebbett, should write to suggest Dr. Watt coming if the Board would also write and inform Dr. Watt that they were in accord. He thought that there was no need to substitute Dr. Watt’s visit for the deputation, but simply to ask Dr. Watt to come and say the deputation had been deferred until after his visit.

On the 30th June Mr. Ebbett received a telegram from the two M.P.s followed by a letter written that day.

They had met Dr. Watt, who explained that the reason for his not having replied to the Board, to approve of its placing the extra ₤3500 on its estimates, was that he had received a letter of 16th June from the Board, re a deputation to see about the increased vote for Hastings, and he was therefore waiting for the deputation. The Department’s attitude was that Hastings should find the balance of the money or accept the department’s plan, and it was not going to increase the vote of ₤9000 (subsidy). Dr. Watt

Page 72

promised, however, to visit Hastings in three weeks’ time.

(This visit he later deferred to the end of August.)

(Meanwhile we may note that there seems to have been a reason behind these delays, as in a letter of 2nd July to a friend, Mr. Gilbert McKay, M.P. made the following significant statement: – “There is a fly in the ointment and that fly should be located by the Hastings Committee.”  The friend, (the late Major A. Blake Greene) was, as he knew, a friend of Mr. Geo. Ebbett, into whose possession the letter duly came.)

It was decided at the July meeting of the Hospital Board to carry on with the sending of a deputation to Wellington, after Dr. Watt had conferred with the Board, which wished him to do this first, and met the Hastings Memorial Committee.

On July 28 Mr. Ebbett wrote to the Acting-Director to see that the ₤9000 subsidy which had been promised and which had twice before been on the estimates was again placed on them that year and it was very probable that the erection of the building would be proceeded with in the near future.


The end of August went by, September came, and still the Acting Director-General tarried. However, by mid-September news came that Dr. Valintine was returning, and as the reasons for Dr. Watt having to come and see for himself did not exist with Dr. Valintine who already had full and intimate knowledge of the matter, Mr. Ebbett advised the Board that such a visit was no longer necessary, and suggested that the deputation previously appointed by the Board accompany some Hastings Memorial Committee members to Wellington to interview Dr. Valintine re a further grant, as soon as an appointment could be made.

This the Board was willing to do, considering that there had been no change in the position since the June meeting, when the delegation had been decided on and the M.P.s written to; only arrangement as to time was therefore required.

Acting on the Board’s communication of 19th September to this effect, Mr. Ebbett on the 21st wrote to Dr. Valintine officially asking re time when deputation could see him re Hospital Board’s agreement and intention to make a grant.

As it turned out, Mr. Ebbett, who had stated the matter as having been left by the Board for the Memorial Committee to arrange, had read the Board’s letter rather hastily – it had ended with: – “so if your Committee decided to send its deputation to Wellington in the near future, I should be obliged if you would let me know so that I may make what arrangements are necessary.”

Mr. Ebbett duly apologised, it having been a case of pure inadvertence, and the matter was thus satisfactorily disposed of, the only result being that Dr. Valintine received the request re deputation immediately the Hastings Memorial Committee had been able to decide on the matter, instead of its having had to refer back to the Board before the Director-General was communicated with.

Page 73


Meanwhile, on the 18th September, Mr. Ebbett had written to Dr. Valintine privately (He thought it possible, indeed probable, that Dr. Valintine would show the letter to Mr. Allen and Dr. Watt, and drew it up with that in mind.) saying: –

“I am sorry that as far as the actual construction of this building is concerned we are just exactly where we were when you left. As far as The Hospital Board is concerned we have made much progress and our friendly relations have been greatly strengthened and at the present time every member of the Board except one and there is another who is perhaps neutral. Our opponent is the Chairman, Mr. Andrew, but naturally while in Napier there is no open opposition, they can’t deny the merits it has, still there is no enthusiasm and as Mr. Andrew’s position as Mayor depends on the votes of the people of Napier I can see that to some extent it is policy on his part to keep that in mind.

When the second set of plans were ready we met the Board and your supervisor Mr. Allen in Napier. We heard Mr. Allen talking about a sketch subnitted [submitted] by the Department which had come before us and which we had turned down. None of us could understand what he meant and I did not like to interrupt him. However as the meeting progressed the air was cleared. It appeared Mr. Allen had discussed it with the architects and had given the sketch to them. Some time later they informed him we would not consider the proposal at all. As a matter of fact none of us ever saw the sketch and none of us ever knew it existed or ever heard of any proposal and we explained that to Mr. Allen. However for several weeks he had been under the impression that we turned his proposal down flat and I am afraid he is rather prejudiced against us, but we have nothing against him. We can easily appreciate his ability and I like his methods. You know what he means. He suggested one alteration in the plans to which we all readily agreed and the plans as altered were approved.

We then invited tenders for the construction of the building in Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston and locally and we received five and the lowest was ₤25,900, about ₤3000 more than the architect’s estimate and about ₤3500 more than we have in hand or that we can safely rely on getting.

Throughout I have continually stressed with the architects verbally and in writing the importance of designing a building within our means but in these times it seems to me under estimates cannot be avoided.

We then had a full meeting of the Hastings Committee and in view of the position it was suggested that these plans be abandoned and we commence on a third lot. You will remember the circumstances under which the first were discarded. That, however, was met with an emphatic, unanimous and stormy protest. It was pointed out we had subscribed about ₤17,000 and that had this gone through the Board in the first place we would have been entitled to a subsidy on it AND NO ONE WOULD HEAR of starting again from the beginning for a third time. A deputation was appointed to wait on the Hospital Board, which they did, and the position was explained to the Board. We were met very sympathetically and in view of the circumstances the Board agreed without dissent to make a grant of ₤3500 towards the cost so as to enable us to proceed on the plans which have been approved by everybody, such sum to be placed on the Board’s next year’s estimates.

Page 74

I don’t know, but I suppose that in a case of this kind it is only right the Board should consult your department and the matter was referred to the Department by the Board. Nothing was heard of it for some time and the Board without any instigation on our part then appointed a deputation which it was intended should wait on Dr. Watt and the Minister in Wellington in conjunction with a deputation set up by the Hastings Committee. The Hastings Committee, however, had never MET or known Dr. Watt in the matter at all and as far as they knew he had no intimate knowledge of the undertaking. We therefore asked the Board to allow us to request Dr. Watt to come to Hastings so that he could get a first hand knowledge of the position on the spot and let the joint deputation discuss it with him afterwards. To this the Chairman of the Board consented and at our request Dr. Watt agreed to come at the end of August but apparently he has not had an opportunity.

As a matter of fact we requested this because we thought it was hardly fair to Dr. Watt to ask him to make a decision before he had a good grasp of the position. Under similar circumstances, were I in Dr. Watt’s place, I would say, “I can see no extreme urgency in this matter, the Director-General himself has handled it from the beginning and knows all the facts in connection with it. He will be back in a few weeks, let him continue to deal with it.” If that was Dr. Watt’s attitude I should think it was quite a reasonable and proper one.

The whole matter has raised an interest here even more intense than at any previous time and you can perhaps imagine the reluctance of the subscribers, who have already paid for and abandoned one set of plans, to pay again several hundred  pounds for a second set which have been approved by the Board and by the Department and which are acceptable to everybody and then abandon them and commence a third lot.

We all think that the institution as set out in these plans is admirable and that everybody concerned including your department has good reason to be satisfied with them and it would be a most regrettable thing if they had to be scrapped.

The Board recognises the hardship involved, and being willing to make the grant and agreeable to urge it almost unanimously, for the Hastings Committee who have laboured hard on the matter for six years to say that they hope your department will not object to the Board’s proposal, is but a very poor expression of our feelings. The interminable delay in arriving anywhere has caused endless disappointment to everybody. We know it has been unavoidable but the people don’t appreciate that. However, I believe that if what we have asked for and what the Board desires can be given effect to, it will enable us to attain what we have so long striven for and we all hope sincerely you will see your way to allow it to proceed on the plans as settled last.

We are endeavouring now to arrange for the joint deputation to go to Wellington to see you and if necessary the Minister in connection with it. It is probable the Board will communicate with you with the object of making an appointment and if so we would be glad if you would be good enough to fix it for an early date so that we know where we stand with regard to it.”

As shedding further light on developments in Mr. Ebbett’s own words, as the one most deeply concerned, we also give, even at the risk of some

NOTE: Underlinings and capitalisings not in original letter but used to single out important points.

Page 75

repetition, much of his letter of 25th September to Mr. T. Donovan, who had “been joined with Mr. Fowler in a request to the Hospital Board to expedite the joint deputation to Wellington with the object of getting the approval of the Department to a grant by the Board in aid of the erection of an auxiliary Hospital in Hastings.

(Mr. Donovan, we may note, was at the time a Hastings member on the Hospital Board, and at the Board’s meeting of 14th September is recorded as having seconded a motion to write to the Health Department asking the “specific date” when Dr. Watt might be expected to visit Napier to confer with the Board.) To continue with the letter: –

“As a matter of fact, the executive of the Hastings Committee determined several weeks ago that if Dr. Watt did not come to Hastings an effort should be made to arrange for the joint deputation to wait on Dr. Valintine as soon after his return as a day could possibly be fixed.

On the 16th inst. I wrote to the Hospital Board pointing out that Dr. Valintine was due back in New Zealand in a few days and asking whether delegates appointed by the Board would be agreeable to go to Wellington and meet him as soon as a date could be arranged with him. I got a reply from the Secretary which I took to mean that if I could get a date fixed he would see that the representation of the Board was arranged.

On the 19th September I wrote to Dr. Valintine informing him of the circumstances and asking if he would kindly, while studying his own convenience, appoint a day as early as he reasonably could to meet the deputation. Dr. Valintine arrived back in Auckland yesterday so that if he has not already got that letter it will be on his table when he walks into his office in Wellington.

When the Board proposed some months ago that a deputation should wait on Dr. Watt the Hastings Committee had no knowledge of his attitude, but were aware that he knew nothing whatever about this proposal and they exercised caution. I took steps to find out privately what Dr. Watt’s attitude was. I learned that Dr. Watt would not give a decision which would commit the Department to anything whatever and we saw that if he was forced to give an answer it would be a refusal.

Not on the merits, we don’t know whether he is in favour of a Hastings Hospital or against it, but on the ground that he knew nothing about it and that as the Director-General had dealt with it from the first he should continue to do so. I got this information in confidence but I can assure you it is absolutely reliable, and can be depended upon. I can understand that in Dr. Watt’s view there was no extreme urgency in connection with it and personally I think his attitude was a proper and wise one.

Then we know that Mr. Allen, the Department Building Supervisor is hostile to this grant and his opinion has weight.

We can’t be blind to the fact that there are some people, even one member of the Hospital Board, who would be sufficiently ill advised as to walk blindly into this trap and thus play right into the hands of those who still hope to see this object defeated, but we avaoided [avoided] it.endless disappointment to everybody

It was simply inviting a set back and further delay, because if Dr. Watt gave a decision refusing the consent of the Department, it would be much more difficult to get Dr. Valintine to give a decision over riding and directly contrary to a decision which had been given by his predecessor, than it is for Dr. Valintine to deal with it in the first place.

Page 76

At the same time we can’t make these things public because we don’t want to get into open hostility with Mr. Andrew who will possibly be Chairman of the Board when the affairs of this Hospital are being administered nor do we want to make an open enemy of Mr. Allen who, as the Department’s Supervisor will be supervising the construction of this building and in whose hands it may easily be to make things go smoothly or to create endless difficulties. On general principles it will be perfectly clear to you that seeing we have plenty of opponents it would be directly opposed to our interests and detrimental to our object to have these phases of the matter discussed publicly.

The delegate appointed by the Board to go to Wellington is the Chairman, Mr. Andrew.

I haven’t a word to say against him, but it is a matter of common knowledge that he is much inclined to be antagonistic and his mind on that point is easily read and will be quite clear to Dr. Valintine. I have emphasised and stressed with Dr. Valintine that a big majority of the Board are now in favour of facilitating the progress of this work, but when he looks round the room he will see only one representative of the Board there and he opposed to it and he will sum it up that the support of the rest of the Board must be only lukewarm, seeing that none of those supporting it are present. I gather from the Board’s Secretary that the matter may again be discussed by the Board before the interview in Wellington and if that is so and you want to do something helpful it would be a good thing if you could get a resolution passed appointing say two other members of the Board who are in favour of this, to go to Wellington in addition to Mr. Andrew. (An amendment to this effect was proposed by Mr. Priest and carried at the meeting of 12th October, Mr. Donovan seconded the following motion, stipulating the personnel, who in accordance with the amendment previously passed had to be one from Napier (Chairman), one from Hastings and one from the County, thus being thoroughly representative.

We are not at all sure that we will get a favourable answer from Dr. Valintine and I think the presence of at any rate two other members of the Board who are prepared to strongly urge the matter would be a great advantage. Under the present circumstances, the only representation (sic.) from the Board will not advocate the proposal and in the absence of anybody else from the Board Dr. Valintine won’t be impressed at all by the fact that practically all the rest of the Board are in favour. Of course if there is no further meeting of the Board you can’t do anything in this direction.

You will note this letter is marked “Private and Confidential”. There is never any objection to your knowing everything there is to know about the proposal but it is necessary that you should be careful.

I have full faith in your integrity and I know that you will respect the conditions under which this information is supplied to you but all the same, I repeat that there is need to be careful. A copy of it is being sent to Messrs. Donovan, Harris and Priest as private individuals and not as members of the Board. (It is to be noted that the amendment of October 12 enlarging the deputation to 3 was proposed by Mr. Priest, seconded by Mr. Harris, the motion following, stipulating its members – Mr. Andrew as before for Napier, Mr. Fowler for Hastings and Mr. Priest for H.B. County – was proposed by Mr. Harris and seconded by Mr. Donovan.)

In addition to our actual opponents there are idlers and meddlers in plenty only too anxious to seize on anything out of which they may promote criticism, which not only never achieves anything, but which is really a big handicap.

Page 77


On 29th September a reply came to Mr. Ebbett from Dr. Valintine, regretting the delay there had been and welcoming the idea of a delegation, saying that he would write immediately to the Board suggesting that its Chairman and also some of its members come to Wellington soon to meet members of the Hastings Committee and himself, and suggesting Tuesday, October 13th. On account of the Hospital Board meeting being on Monday, the 12th, it turned out to be necessary to change this to Wednesday, October 14th, at 10 a.m. It was intended that the deputation should see both Dr. Valintine and the Minister.

We will now stop to note here that on 10th October the architects were again communicated with to ask them to cut out from the plans whatever might be needed to come within the ₤17,000 actually available for building. While there was a number of outstanding subscriptions, the executive remained determined that they would not recommend the committee which was to meet at an early date, to make themselves liable for anything for which they had not actually got the money to pay. They did not desire to depart from the original plan, but that meant that only a portion of the buildings could be erected at that time.

As we have already noted, the Hospital Board meeting of 12th October reconsidered its representation on the deputation and (with a communication from Dr. Valintine no doubt present in their minds) decided – after considerable discussion – that Messrs. Andrew, Fowler and Priest should go; a very pleasing decision.

The day before the deputation was due to be received (Oct. 14), Mr Ebbett received word from the Hastings Treasurer (Mr. A.I. Rainbow), that the approximate amount on fixed deposit and in current account was ₤12,000. (Meaning ₤21,000 with the ₤9000 subsidy.)


Dr. Valintine refused to approve of the Hospital Board making a ₤3500 grant, however, being of the opinion that the work could be carried out with the money already in hand, and he had instructed the Department’s architects to submit plans for a building which could be erected within that amount. (i.e. approximately ₤21,000 as noted above.)

Mr. Ebbett duly received the Department’s plans via the Hospital Board. On November 5 on making acknowledgement of their receipt to the Board, he stated that a meeting of the Hastings Committee would be held on November 13th to consider the matter, and the Board would be informed of what decision was come to. The plans, assuming the Board’s permission, were being kept meanwhile for examination by the members of the Hastings Committee.

A little tangle seems to have now arisen over an earlier matter of some sketch plans. Mr. Ebbett writes to the Board on November 9th: –

“The members of your Board will be aware that there appeared to be an omission by the architects to furnish to the Board a sketch plan in this connection submitted by the Health Department.

Page 78

The Department’s officers talked about a plan presumably prepared by them and submitted by them to the architects. I understand there was a plan, embodying the ideas of the department’s officers but prepared by Mr. Phillips in conjunction with those officers, and it is said that plan was submitted to myself and Mr. Griffith a member of the Board, but it is admitted that it was not stated that this was especially the plan of the department. This may be true. I saw a number of plans but never one which I understood was submitted by the Department nor which would cost appreciably less than the plan of the architects. Messrs. Hyland and Phillips wish Mr. Griffith and I to see this sketch plan in order that we may be able to say whether we can remember having seen it before. If necessary it need not leave your possession. I claim no special virtue in this connection, but I am anxious no injustice should be done. I am equally sure neither the Chairman nor any member of the Hospital Board would be unjust and I am sure Dr. Valintine would not. Will you please ask the Department to forward the sketch to you so that Mr. Griffith and I may see it? It is possible that the position which has arisen is to some extent at least the result of a misunderstanding and if so we would all no doubt like to see it cleared up, even if it goes only part of the way, because although I may have seen this plan, I am certain I never saw one which I was informed was the department’s or which would cost less money.”

The matter seems to have been soon cleared up. Mr. Ebbett apparently being lent a copy of the plans in question, and no more was heard of it.


Mr. Ebbett’s next letter to the Board, of November 14th, is important enough to quote in full: –

“I return the sketch plans submitted by the Health Department. The offer of the Health Department to undertake the construction and completion of the buildings on the lines indicated by these sketch plans was considered at a meeting of the Soldiers’ Memorial Committee last evening when it was decided to accept the offer.

We do not desire to make any conditions but we rely on Dr. Valintine’s unqualified assurance the plans and specifications would be proceeded with at once and the job pushed on to completion with all reasonable speed. We would also suggest that your Board submit the plan to the Medical Staff. It would for instance appear to some members of this Committee that a single bathroom in the maternity ward is likely to prove insufficient and we think the medical staff might consider such matters as this.

We also desire to ask that the specifications when complete be submitted to us. Our only reason for asking this is so that we may fully comprehend what it is intended to do in order to identify this institution as a Memorial to the Fallen Soldiers of this district. The money was subscribed for that purpose and in the construction of the building we are anxious to see this object is not lost to sight.

The result of this arrangement is that we may have to meet a claim from the Architects for fees and we assume this may be left with us to settle. It can be taken that the sum available from us is about ₤12,000 less whatever sum if any we have to pay the architects and also any sum we have to pay

Page 79

the lowest tenderer on the former plan. This will be small. Practically the whole of the money is on fixed deposits, in various sums and falling due at various times but all within a matter of months. The question was not discussed last night but subject to the approval of the Committee we propose to pay this money to your Board together with interest as each sum matures.

After your Board has considered the matter you will no doubt be communicating with the Department, but you will note I am sending a copy of this letter to Dr. Valintine.


At the Board meeting of 16th November it was decided that the plans be referred to the Honorary Medical Staff for any suggestions they might have to make, these to be referred to a sub-committee of the Board (This, consisting of Messrs. Andrew, McGrath, Fowler and Morse was thus duly set up, as previously decided, as soon as the matter got to the consideration of plans and arranging of building stage), and thence to the Hastings Memorial Committee.

Dr. Valintine’s reply, when it came (20th November), to the copy sent to him of Mr. Ebbett’s letter to the Hospital Board, did not favour the idea of the matter going through the Honorary Medical Staff.  He stated: –

“I hope you will not refer matters to the Medical Profession, otherwise they are bound to have their ideas on the subject, and it would lead to the erection of the hospital being delayed. As a matter of fact I think I can say without undue conceit that we know a great deal more about hospital matters than the average medical man.” While waiting for word from the Hospital Board, Mr. Allan was to push on with plans, etc., as soon as possible.

The department was expeditious, and by the 10th November the Hastings Memorial Committee was sending a site plan to the Public Works Department (Napier), receiving it back next day.

The Honorary Medical Staff was less expeditious and at the Hospital Board meeting of 14th December, 1925, it was resolved to notify the Honorary Staff that if no suggestions were forthcoming within a week the plans be returned to the Hastings Committee.

The Honorary Staff had its report ready on the 22nd.  It considered: –

“There should be direct communication between the duty room and babies’ nursery.

The operation room needs an annexe for changing clothes, etc. and for anaesthetic.

No provision is made for an office.

There is no bedroom or sitting room for a doctor, who will be needed for the allotted number of cases, as presumably they will all be too serious to move to Napier Hospital.

The sister’s bedroom should be in the Nurses’ Home.

Page 80

The consulting room needs a lavatory annexe, and better lighting and there should be direct communication between consulting room and waiting room.

If this Hospital is to be self contained it will, of course, be costly to maintain. Separate rooms are more expensive to run than wards. There can be no communication of duty between the nurses in the hospital and in the maternity ward – that is, the hospital nurses cannot help in the maternity ward, and vice versa. The only economy we can see would be to have fewer beds, which should be feasible if patients are transferred to Napier Hospital as soon as possible, where consultations, X-rays, laboratory and operation room equipment are available.

Centralisation of Hospital work means efficiency.

We might suggest, in view of the fact that in a few weeks Dr. MacEachern, the hospital expert will be here at the invitation of the New Zealand Government, his valuable opinion on the question might be obtained.

Drs. Mayo’s and MacEachern’s opinions were quoted in favour of Napier in the base hospital controversy of 1931.)

The Hastings Memorial Committee, on seeing the above report, preferred not to discuss the points raised, as meaning further delay, and merely asked the Board to forward the plans, which Mr. Ebbett returned for the purpose, and a copy of the Honorary Staff’s report to the Health Department, with a request that they be considered and the matter be expedited.

In a letter to Dr. Valintine, of which Mr. Ebbett let the Board have a copy in thus returning the plans, etc. on December 24th, Mr. Ebbett confined himself to recommending the report for the Department’s serious consideration. The only thing he did very much want was the details of the entrance hall “so that we may be fully aware of what your staff proposed to do to identify the institution as a Memorial to the Fallen Soldiers from this district. On this we may ask to be allowed to make suggestions for your consideration, because we look upon this aspect of the matter as most important.

(On 27th March, 1926, a coloured sketch of the Central Entrance Portico, with Memorial Waiting Hall, was sent up by the Government Architect, with sketch elevation to show relation to whole building – See reference below.)

To avoid delays, the Hospital Board now facilitated matters by arranging that the sending to and fro of plans and correspondence thereanent be between the Hastings Memorial Committee and the Department direct.

In such a letter, of 2nd January, 1926, Mr. Ebbett confined his expression of opinion on the Medical Staff’s suggestions to saying that, while they appealed to them, the Hastings Committee were content to let the plans go as they were, because if all these nine or ten suggestions of the medical staff were to be discussed between them it would mean probably weeks more delay. He asked, if it was not agreed that they were necessary, to please proceed with the matter at once so that there might be no more delay. The Committee had plainly indicated that irrespective of everything else, they desired the building to be gone on with and the executive would therefore be clear of any responsibility.

Page 81


At its meeting of 15th February, 1926, the Hospital Board officially decided to approve of the Department “preparing the plans of the Hastings Hospital provided there is no cost to this Board.”

At this same meeting the report of the Honorary Medical Staff on the plans of the Hastings Hospital was officially received.

It was evidently lack of such official cognisance in the vacation interval between the December and February meetings which had led to the report not having so far been forwarded by the Board to Dr. Valintine, who had been complaining in January about its non-arrival.

On the 17th March, Messrs. Allan (Departmental Building Inspector) and B.F. Kelly came up to inspect the site of the new hospital and Nurses’ Home, plans of which were now well advanced. They had a plan showing a position on the site selected by Mr. Griffiths in August, 1924, which they had wished to verify with the Hastings Committee on the spot and also select a position for the Nurses’ Home. Nothing was done except to confirm the actual location of the buildings as previously fixed.

According to a note made at the time it was not expected the plans would be complete for 5 or 6 weeks.


We have already made reference to the sketches sent up on 27th March. On 16th April Mr. Ebbett received the following letter from the Government Architect (Mr. John T. Main):-

“I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 31st ultimo, together with sketches of the above. (This would be return of those sent 27th March) I now forward, as requested, a sketch of the interior of the Memorial Waiting Hall, showing the bronze tablet containing the names of Fallen Soldiers. To place the whole of the inscription suggested by you, viz. “H.B. Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, Lest we forget, 1914-1918” on the facade would require letters so small as to be readable only at close range and appear crowded. I have therefore placed the latter portion viz., “Lest we forget, 1914-1918” on the memorial tablet inside the Memorial Hall, and suggest that the inscription on the facade be “Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital” only, as this will give a much better appearance for a building erected in the district, and should be a sufficiently descriptive title. If it is considered essential to have the name added, this could be done as shown on the small sketch with little detriment to the appearance.

I trust this sketch will suffice for your purpose, and I shall be glad to hear whether the design meets with your approval. If so, will you kindly forward the approximate number of names to be inscribed on the bronze tablet.”

Page 82


On the 26th April the Hastings Committee having intimated its approval of the sketches submitted and also the suggestions made regarding lettering, etc. the Government Architect (Mr. Main) had to state on the 3rd May in his reply to this intimation that to make the coloured sketches of the facade and Memorial Hall, it had been necessary to take the draughtsman off the working drawings while pending receipt of the Committee’s reply work on the drawings affected had been suspended. So an intention to have the plans, etc. ready for advertising for tenders the first week in May was not realised. This was a merely mechanical delay, however, resolvable by time and straight effort, and on June 2nd the Government architect wrote to advise that plans and specifications were completed.

The Hospital Board was being written to by the Director-General of Health and immediately upon the necessary approval being obtained, tenders would be called.

The Director, in his letter to the Hospital Board (June 5th), notified them that a copy of the plans and specifications would be forwarded to them in a few days, and went on: –

“The Hastings Hospital Committee has requested this Department to call tenders through the District Engineer, Napier and to supervise the erection of the job. Will you please say if this course meets with your approval and if the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board has signified its concurrence in the Committee’s action.

He also wished to know whether they had received “any definite and enforceable undertaking from the Hastings Committee that it will, upon the building being completed, hand over the same unconditionally to your Board.

The Board forthwith took action, at its meeting of June 14, to obtain such an undertaking, sending a copy of the Director’s letter to the Hastings Committee, and also approved the calling of tenders.

The Hastings Committee was very willing to give the undertaking and Mr. Ebbett in replying enclosed a letter, dated June 17, which he was sending to Dr. Valintine, and in which he assumed that tenders would be invited after the Department had been advised of the Board’s decision.

Concerning the suggested undertaking, he took it that they would transfer the site, with which, of course, would go the building, to the Hospital Board.

He had not been certain whether it would be vested in the Department or the Board, but he presumed from Dr. Valintine’s letter that if they transferred the land to the Board, that would meet with his approval.

(It did, Dr. Valintine further remarking that the institution was not being taken over by the Government as a St. Helen’s Hospital, so a transfer should be made out to the Board.)

On the copy of Mr. Ebbett’s letter being read, word came back from the Board on the 19th of June that it had “only approved the principle of calling tenders through the Public Works Department, and the supervision being under the District Engineer.” They had not seen the completed plans, the only plan which had been before them recently having been a sketch plan, which they referred to the Honorary Staff, who made certain suggestions. Whether these had been embodied or not in the present plans the Board was unable to say, but it was, and always had been assumed, that the final plans would be placed before the Board for inspection before tenders were called.

Page 83


This matter of the plans was destined to cause a hold up for two months. Meanwhile news came from Dr. Valintine, on 6th July, that he had received notice from the Assistant Under-Secretary of Public Works that the estimate on the plans and specifications, now in readiness for the invitation of tenders, was ₤22,000.

The Department, however, could not undertake work on behalf of a Committee without a specific appropriation. “Cabinet has considered the matter and has decided that the Minister of Health is first to decide whether this Hospital should be gone on with, and if so an item is to be taken on the Estimates to permit of the work being carried out by this Department; also that tenders be invited by the Public Works Department, but no tender to be accepted until the amount of the tender proposed to be accepted has been paid to Public Account and a guarantee given for the payment of any further sum that may be required to cover extras incurred during the course of construction, as well as the cost of supervision, advertising, etc.”

The Assistant Under-Secretary therefore asked Dr. Valintine to place the matter before his Minister for his consent, on receipt of which tenders would be advertised.

He further suggested that his Department should meanwhile arrange with the Hastings Committee for it to be prepared to pay to Public Account the amount of the most suitable tender in order that no delay should occur in the acceptance of the tender when submitted for Dr. Valintine’s approval.

Dr. Valintine therefore asked the Hastings Committee to pay the amount it held in trust for the work “into the Public Account and forward the Bank Receipt to this office. As regards the ₤9,000 which appears on this Department’s estimates, this will be paid over to Public Works also on demand by them.”

The Minister’s approval was duly obtained, and the only causes of delay now left to operate were the maturing of the Hastings Committee’s Bank deposits, and the advisability of not making them available before their maturity dates in about three months time in order to have the benefit of the interest, and the matter of the Hospital Board and its seeing the completed plans.

We have no indication of the reason for the delay in the Department’s forwarding them and the Hospital Board’s receiving them, but delay there was.

At the July meeting of the Hospital Board (12 July) it decided that to expedite matters the Building Sub-Committee, together with Mr. Maddison (a Hastings representative on the Board, be authorised to deal with the plans with power to act – that is, as soon as they came to hand.

On the 14th July Mr. Ebbett was written to by the Board requiring him to send a copy of the plans if he had them in his possession, whereupon the sub-committee could be called together.

However, he did not have the plans; a certain sketch – i.e. the Memorial part he had wished to particularly examine – he had had, and it had been returned within twelve hours. On the 19th he wrote to Dr. Valintine about the matter, as well as about an Executive meeting, which had decided it would give the Department “an order on the Bank authorising them to pay the amounts of the deposits into the Public Account as they fall due” and had

Page 84

also decided to give the Hospital Board an unconditional undertaking re transfer of the site immediately on completion of the building.

Thus these two matters were satisfactorily disposed of. To return to the matter at issue. Mr. Ebbett noted: –

“I have also received from the Board a letter pointing out that they have not seen the completed plans and I presume they wish to see them.”

He went on to say that it was a matter for Dr. Valintine to determine, but in the opinion of his Committee, he repeated, it seemed a wise policy to submit them to the Board, which had appointed a small committee to deal with the matter so there would be no delay.

I was also asked to inform you,” ended Mr. Ebbett, “that building in this district is dull and that it was a very opportune time to invite tenders. There is also considerable unemployment which would be relieved to some extent by the work involved in the carrying out of the contract”.

In those circumstances they trusted that the matter would be expedited as much as possible.

In writing to the Hospital Board on the 20th, Mr. Ebbett explicitly stated: –

“I have already suggested at least twice that the plans should be forwarded to your Board and you will understand that no action of this Committee has been the cause of a single day’s delay.”

He also gave the undertaking re transfer of site, in the form of a resolution of the Hastings Committee: –

“That the Chairman be authorised to give a written undertaking to the Napier Hospital Board that the land purchased by the Committee as a site for the Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital will be transferred unconditionally to the Napier Hospital Board immediately on the completion of the building.”


Re the question of holding bank deposits for interest due, the Assistant Under-Secretary, Public Works Department, wrote on July 24: –

“If I understand the matter aright, the total monies in the hands of Mr. Ebbett’s Committee is ₤11,863 10s. 8d. and as the proposed building is estimated to cost ₤22,000, it would be a pity for his Committee to lose interest that will accrue on their deposits by paying ₤11,863 10s. 8d. to Public Account now, because this Department cannot advertise for tenders until the total estimated cost of the building has been duly lodged in the bank to credit of the Public Account.

Of curse [course], it is possible the Committee has other funds than those on fixed deposit because it is observed from a communication addressed to the Government architect by Mr. Ebbett dated 31st March, 1926, that the sum of ₤15,000 or ₤16,000 had been subscribed.

If, of course the Committee has additional monies to those on deposit and can lodge ₤10,137 from such source, the Department would not ask them to

Page 85

sacrifice the interest that will accrue on their deposits. The lodgement to Public Account of the deposits aggregating ₤11,833 10s. 8d. as each falls due (the final being on the 12th October, 1926) would be quite satisfactory if the guarantee referred to in my memorandum of 2nd July (quoted by Dr. Valintine on 6th July) respecting extras etc. is forthcoming.”

Mr. Ebbett replied on 4th August: –

“This Committee has no other funds in hand. It is true about ₤16,000 was available, but the site cost ₤3000 and laying on the water and sewer another ₤700 and there were other small outgoings.

This Committee is quite willing to hand over the deposit receipts to the Public Works Department, and with interest they should realise about ₤11,950. With the Government subsidy of ₤9000 the sum available will be ₤20,950 approximately. The estimated cost is ₤22,000.

My Committee has requested me to ask whether you can arrange the difference and whether they can hope that tenders will be invited at an early date.”


Meanwhile the Board had finally received the Plans, Dr. Valintine having come up, also Mr. Allen, and discussed them with the Chairman (Mr. J.B. Andrew) and Messrs. McGrath and Hill (both Napier), and on the building sub-committee’s recommendation the Board meeting of 16th August formally approved the plans, which were forthwith forwarded to the Hastings Memorial Committee.


On the 19th Dr. Valintine, in answer to Mr Ebbett’s appeal (of the 4th August), said he had suggested to the Public Works Department that they should call for tenders and then it would be known whether the amount of the lowest tender was such that it would be within the amount of funds available.

This matter of funds was now the only one remaining at issue to hold up proceedings.

Mr. Ebbett had apparently written again before receiving Dr. Valintine’s note of the 19th, for on the 20th the Director writes again privately, answering his “letter of August 14th” (unless 4th is meant, or as it was evidently a private letter no record may have been kept in the file), and saying that he could only repeat that the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board gave every indication that the members desired to push on with the work of the Hastings Hospital as soon as possible.

Tenders are about to be called, but if the expenditure comes to more than there is money for, including the subscriptions that you forwarded and the subsidy of ₤9000 from the Government, it will be necessary to make some alterations in the plans so that the expenditure can be kept within bounds as the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board is determined not to spend any more money than is available from your subscribers and the subsidy thereon.

Page 86

The Hawke’s Bay Board will have to face considerable expenditure not only as regards general maintenance of the Hospital but also the cost of furnishings.

In replying to these two letters on 23rd August, Mr. Ebbett sent back the plans “in the hope that tenders will be invited shortly”.

In so doing, he crossed a telegram from Dr. Valintine, which he received on the 25th. It read: –

“Please return plans to Government Architect Public Works Department, Wellington. Have recommended Public Works call tenders.”


However, nearly a month now went by, and on September 22nd we find Mr. Ebbett appealing piteously to Dr. Valintine: –

“Is there anything new at all in the position bearing on this? Have you any information as to when tenders will be asked for? Unless something is done soon another whole summer will be gone and still nothing achieved. Is there anything at all we could do to help us out to some finality? The Executive would be obliged to you for any information you could give.”

It turned out that Dr. Valintine had been away from Headquarters for about a fortnight (during which the matter had apparently been let lie), but he assured Mr. Ebbett that he did not think there would be “any trouble now.” This was on 30th September.


Dr. Valintine wrote a further letter on 5th October, saying sympathetically: –

“I have to inform you that this Department has asked the Public Works Department to call the necessary tenders for the Hastings Hospital. I do hope that the matter when once started will not entail such trials on your patience as you have heretofore experienced.”

On the 13th October the Government Architect at Napier (Mr. John T. Mair) at long last advised Mr. Ebbett “that tenders will be advertised in Saturday evening’s papers.”

Everything now hinged on the amounts of the tenders. If the available funds were exceeded it could only mean fresh change of plan and further – perhaps very long – delays.

Mr. Ebbett must have drawn a long breath of relief when Dr. Valintine sent him advance information of the figures. The lowest tender was ₤19,800.

“The Tenders Board,” said Dr. Valintine, “had recommended the acceptance of the lowest tender (Hillen and Howard), so that at last the Committee’s and your efforts are to be rewarded.

A commencement with the building should now be possible within the next few weeks.

Page 87


On 9th December, 1926, there came a telegram from “Health”, Wellington: –

“Re Hastings Hospital Public Works advise that if you pay money held into Public Account and send Bank receipt to Assistant Under-Secretary Public Works Dept. tender will be immediately accepted.”

Mr. Ebbett acted at once, and on the 10th the money was sent. The matured deposits were represented by their Bank Receipts and as the maturity dates of the others were close, the problem was readily solved by sending post dated cheques, the whole, including interest to date of maturity, representing ₤12,033 8s. 5d.

On the 13th December the Public Works Department acknowledged these Bank Receipts and post-dated cheques, finding the arrangement eminently satisfactory, and the Assistant Under-Secretary had “much pleasure in informing you that the lowest tender has today been accepted, and it is trusted that the work will be put in hand shortly after the Christmas holidays.”

The receipt of this information must have given even more pleasure than its sending.


Now, instead of elusively abstract difficulties and interminable delays, seemingly heading nowhere, there were good, solid, practical matters to discuss, and whatever was done there was something to show for it. Such a question came up immediately at the Hospital Board meeting of December 13th, when it was decided that heart timber, which had not previously been specified throughout, must be used, while the District Engineer gave assurance that “any pigments used for colouring will be used in quantities that will not affect the concrete.”

So 1926 ended very pleasantly and tangibly.

Page 88



1927 – 1928


With 1927 the building began.

The Board stuck to its guns re heart timber, in spite of the Department’s experts considering the class of timber chosen to be suitable. Though the Department said it could not depart from its original specifications, the Board had given its engineer authority to “supervise the sterilisation, heating and water systems for the Hastings Hospital, as laid down in the Public Works Department specifications.”


All now continued smoothly during the first half of the year, the only matter for discussion being the merits and practicabilities of gas vs electric cooking systems. (Decided at the November Board meeting in favour of electricity, with an “Ideal boiler for heating.)

Late in June, however, advice was received that on account of the expense of engraving the great number of names desired, the Memorial tablet – with its ₤50 marble surround – would cost ₤250 instead of the originally estimated ₤150. Furthermore, the engraving of so many names was going to take so long that after a special sized plate had been imported, there was little chance of its being in position when the building was ready for occupation.

As there could be no question of having the names painted instead of engraved for such a purpose, nor of reducing the number (300), the extra cost was paid, and the delay simply had to be put up with, the plate still being on its way from England when the Hospital was opened – though not ready for occupation.

The grounds came under the Board’s attention at its August meeting, “G. Maddison, Esq., asking what steps the Board intends taking regarding the lay-out of the Hastings Hospital grounds.

The Secretary stated that, in conference with the other parties interested, it had been agreed to recommend the Board to proceed with the work of planting rose trees, building front wall and forming road with concrete kerbing by means of day labour, preference to be given to Charitable Aid cases; and that application had been made for subsidy as a relief work.” This was adopted by the Board.

(This matter of allowing of subsidy as a relief work caused trouble all through the year. It was not till February 1928 that it was finally settled, when two members of the Hospital Board had to go on to the Unemployment Committee.)

Page 89

The building was meanwhile going ahead very effectively, and at the September meeting of the Board: –

“Mr. Maddison stated that the Hastings Hospital is likely to be completed within the next two months, and stressed the urgency of the question of obtaining furnishings, etc. for this hospital. He also asked that the Board consider the question of administration and staffing.”

The Secretary and the Medical Superintendent were asked to confer and to gather and report information.

At the October meeting Mr. R. H. Pope’s offer to supervise the manufacture of furniture for the Hastings Hospital was taken advantage of, while the Secretary and the Acting Medical Superintendent duly reported re equipment, estimated at ₤3000, and the staffing of Hastings Hospital. The cost of running was estimated at ₤5000 per annum. These amounts were to make some difference to the Board’s levies next April.


The people of Hastings and district continued to take a welcome and practical interest in the Hospital, now that it was being built.

The Board’s October meeting had to acknowledge a donation of rose trees from Messrs. Wilsons’ Nurseries, while the Hastings Radio Society had offered to instal a radio set in the hospital free of cost to the Board, an offer which was most appreciatively accepted.

The December meeting was informed of a ₤6 19s. 7d. donation to the Radio Society for the set, while the Society intended holding a meeting and fix a date for the start of a big campaign to raise the necessary funds, hoping to raise sufficient to instal the radio by the opening date on Anzac Day, April 25 (1928).

We cannot pass by without mention of Misses Gladys and Ruth Knight who communicated with the February meeting re their making a collection from Maraekakaho Station for a bed in the Hastings Hospital for station hands, asking details of the cost of such a bed and annual cost of maintenance. A letter of commendation was sent them, it being mentioned that this was not the first of such public spirited actions on their part. (Feb. 1928).

By April 1928 two beds had been donated, one by the Hastings Fire Brigade, and the other by Mr. Isaac Van Stavoren [ Staveren ], a Wellington merchant.

At the April Board meeting word was received of an offer to equip a bed by the Taradale R.S.A. and it was then decided to affix a brass plate with the name of donor over each bed so given.

In August 1928, we may also note here, Mr. and Mrs. O’Connell, licensees of the Albert Hotel, Hastings, very thoughtfully arranged an unusual annual gift of sheets and pillow cases for the bed recently presented by the Hastings ex-servicemen, while it was noted that the Taradale R.S.A. offer had actualised.

Page 90


“The Hastings Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital,” states the Herald of April 11th, 1928, “has now been completed and handed over to the Public Works Department and all is now ready for the formal opening ceremony to be performed on Anzac Day, either by the Prime Minister (The Hon. J.G. Coates), or by the Minister of Health (the Hon. J.A. Young)…

“The idea of building a hospital as a memorial was first put on a definite footing at a public meeting held in Hastings on November 28, 1919. A collection was begun under the direction of the Hospital Executive Committee; and the total sum derived from subscriptions, interest and from miscellaneous sources such as the sale of trees (and grazing fees), amounted to ₤18,579. To that amount was added the Government subsidy of ₤9000. Almost the whole of the money has been absorbed by the cost of buying the land and building the hospital. (Also something for monuments, sewer and water, etc.)

When a scheme had been definitely formulated, the Committee urged that the Health Department should go on with the building of hospital to be used (at least so far as the near future is concerned) as an auxilliary to the Napier Public Hospital.

The Health Department then undertook to build a hospital suitable to the requirements of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board, and in its turn, the Health Department handed over the task to the Public Works Department. (Historical account very elliptical, compare with foregoing chapters of this work.)

The authorities responsible have gone to some pains to ensure that so far as is practicable, the whole of the furnishings will be of British manufacture. Some of the linoleums, cots, and other articles of furniture are being indented from Great Britain, and others have been bought in New Zealand.

It is doubtful whether every detail of furnishing will have been completed by Anzac Day, for there have been so many things that had necessarily to be left until the completion of the hospital could indicate whether or not they would be needed, that the ordering of them had to be delayed. Nevertheless, the hospital on the opening day will be so nearly like what it is intended ultimately to be that the difference will be negligible.

The opening ceremony will begin at 3 o’clock, and the Hastings Returned Soldiers’ Association and the local group of territorials have been ordered to take part. The Hospital Executive Committee and the Returned Soldiers’ Association are working in co-operation so as to avoid any clashing with the usual Anzac Day memorial services, and the Hastings Citizens’ Band also has expressed its willingness to assist in whatever way may be thought fitting.

So far as present decisions go, the only speakers will be one of the Ministers, named, Mr. George Ebbett (Chairman of the Hospital Executive Committee), and Dr. Valintine who, as Director General of Health, has been consistently helpful and interested ever since the building of the hospital was first decided upon.

The final formality at the opening ceremony will be Mr. Ebbett handing over the building to Mr. J.B. Andrew as Chairman of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board.

Page 91

Though a general invitation will be extended to the entire public, formal invitations will be given only to Dr. Valintine, Mr. H.M. Campbell, M.P. and the Chairman of local bodies.

By courtesy of Mr. Rae, Government Clerk of Works, a “Herald” reporter has been permitted to make an inspection of the Hospital.

The building was designed by Mr. John T. Mair, and both inside and outside does him and its builders high credit. One could not apply to it the word ‘imposing’ …: rather it is neat, bright, cosy-looking and honestly pretty. Though its motto is service before self, and though it is necessarily without any flourishes and is free from any effects of architectural flights of fancy, it is undeniably an ornament to its surroundings.

It is a low widespread building, of real brick, and cream facings without and of glazed plaster, rimu and blue and white silvered tiles between.

The middle of the building consists of a large central block which is entered through two sets of handsome doors leading into the memorial entrance hall – so called because it will in time contain a vast bronze plaque bearing the names of 300 fallen soldiers, and which will be set in a marble slab. It is expected to arrive from England in about a month or six weeks.

Extending from either side of the main blocks are the other two wings, both of them being connected with the central block and making one complete unit. The depth of the building is at the maximum, 136 feet, and the entire frontage to the Omahu Road 224 feet.

Sun porches and pergolas give an airy and lightsome touch that is quite uncommon in such buildings, and length, depth and height are so nicely balanced that compactness and roominess, though one would imagine them mutually exclusive, are in this instance blended to a nicety.

The building stands far back from the road, and has grounds of its own measuring eighteen acres in extent. The approaches are still in the process of formation and, though it will take some time to put them into permanent form, yet a good deal has already been done in the way of laying out garden plots, and putting down paths for pedestrians.

The main entrance from Omahu Road is a hundred feet wide, and narrows to sixty. A main carriage way leads up to the main door of the Hospital and branches to either side of it, and is broken by ornamental flower beds, rectangular and circular, picked out in limestone. On either side of the carriage way are the footways, and they in turn have flower beds following their whole length.

These flower beds have already been planted, and at present make a picture whose beauty will not, it is hoped, have faded by the opening day. The concrete path from Stortford Lodge corner is being busily extended to the hospital gates, and should be ready for use on Anzac Day.

When funds allow, the Committee will no doubt make an ornamental fence and gates at the entrance to the hospital; but as matters stand at present, work must be done gradually and cautiously.

Nevertheless, by the time the opening day comes the grounds will be in excellent trim; and their prettiness and the handsomeness of the building will without doubt surprise the visitors.

Page 92

The finishing of the building will not have been completed by that time, but will have reached such a stage that the public will be able to form a fairly exact idea of what the interior will look like when the whole of the furnishings are in place.

It is expected that the hospital will not be ready to receive patients till about the middle of May.

As for the building itself, we do not intend to be so tedious as to describe it room by room; but will restrict ourselves to a fairly general description of its lay-out.

On the Hastings side of the main block is the nurses’ home, a separate building similar in design to the other parts of the hospital. It is equipped with a sun porch, has 12 bedrooms upstairs and downstairs … and will be most comfortably furnished. Fireplaces and steam radiators will add to the cosiness of the home; it is far enough away from the actual hospital buildings to enable tired nurses to be out of sound and mostly out of sight of their working surroundings. (Trees later.)

The central block of the hospital contains the memorial entrance hall already mentioned, the matron’s living quarters, nurses’ dining room, kitchen and pantry, doctor’s living quarters, dispensaries, and other administrative offices.

The left wing (on the Hastings side contains the general sick wards (one or two beds in each), operating theatre, and sterilising plant. Emergency accommodation is provided by a large sun porch. The nursery is particularly well equipped, and with the sun porch will form ideal quarters for the heavenly immigrants (sic!)

Copious lighting, both natural and artificial, has been ensured; the roofs and ceiling of the two main wards and the passages connecting them with the central block are absolutely fireproof; and the whole of the interior gives one an impression of airiness, cleanliness, and thoroughly sound workmanship.

As has already been said, there will be little or none of the furnishings and equipment that are not made in Britain or New Zealand.

One of the most interesting as well as expensive units is the sterilising plant attached to the operating theatre. That plant was made in Christchurch and cost ₤400, and a good deal of the plumbers’ fittings are also New Zealand made.

Another particularly interesting item is the chandelier in the operating theatre. It consists of a circular arrangement of electric lights set in reflectors so that no matter who is standing in the theatre, and no matter where, there is not and cannot be a vestige of a shadow; and the direction of the path of light can be adjusted as the need arises. This plant is British made and though we may have a more suspicious eye than most for portents and omens one could not help musing (for our own future reference) upon the fact that as the patient lies upon the operating table, 13 lights guide the knife in the way it should go. The total strength of the light amounts to 2,000 candle power.

The beautiful porcelain silvered tiles, and the porcelain sanitary fittings are also of British manufacture.

Page 93

It is all fine looking equipment – smart, ornamental, yet obviously servicable [serviceable] and durable.

The wards provide accommodation for 20 patients inside (including 7 maternity cases) and there is room on the sun porches and verandahs for another 10. (Total 30)

Access to each part of the hospital is provided by ramps leading on to the porches and through wide doorways, so that patients may be carried or wheeled in without any risk of discomforts or a jolting.

Lastly, having in mind the spirit which prompted the decision to build the hospital, we will quote the words inscribed on the foundation stone: –

Erected 1927
By the People of the District
In Everlasting Remembrance of Our Honoured Dead

We are informed by Mr. F. Perrin, Honorary Secretary to the Committee, that the Committee feels itself indebted by the courtesy that has marked the whole of the negotiations on the part of those Government departments and local bodies that have had any part in the scheme; and that their assistance and co-operation has (sic.) been given, and still was (sic) being given, with a most complete willingness.”

We have quoted this account at length, as in spite of its redundancies, it gives a very detailed picture which cannot but be of increasing historical value.


It came up at the April 16 (annual financial) meeting of the Hospital Board that the estimated ₤3000 for capital equipment and ₤8000 for maintenance annually, to which we have already referred, had necessitated increasing the local body levies by ₤1312 19s. 9d. for capital and ₤2065 14s. 9d. for maintenance expenditure respectively.

It will be seen that the Napier Hospital had to bear the extra burden not covered by levies; its own capital expenditure had to be cut down as compared with the previous year, likewise maintenance. Against that could be set the acquisition of a whole new hospital on the capital side, worth with buildings (₤19,800), grounds (₤2700) and water etc connections (₤600 odd) and allowing say ₤400 for other work to grounds, roading, etc., a total of approximately ₤23,500: while, however it was used, whether for both general and maternity patients or only for the latter, it could not but relieve Napier of a certain proportion of its cases, which would be felt on the maintenance side, although the fact that two sets of overhead were dearer than one was reflected in the increased levy.

Page 94


It was reported on April 17 that the medical staff at the Napier Hospital had been increased by two, and the nursing staff by 11, the latter having been gradually built up to prepare for the opening of the Hastings Hospital.

Furnishing (not able to complete before day).: Use as Maternity and/or General Hospital.

As we have seen, as it was desired to open the hospital on Anzac Day (April 25th), on account of its being a War Memorial, it was not possible to have it furnished by the opening date.

At an extra meeting of the Hospital Board held on 23rd April it was decided: –

“That the equipment of the maternity side of this Hospital be proceeded with at the earliest possible moment.”

It was decided, however, at the next meeting to scratch out the words “of the maternity side”. The intention, however, evidently remained.

To make clear the position which led up to this motion it is necessary to give some of the discussion (on April 23): –

It was deplored by one of the Hastings representatives (Mr. G.A. Maddison) that in view of the opening of the new Hastings Memorial Hospital on Anzac Day no move had been made to equip it.

It was understood that the Board was in a position to have the work carried out as soon as it was advised by the medical superintendent and matron. It was considered that they had had ample time to consider the policy for the hospital, and it would have been very nice if it could have been equipped for the opening day.

Dr. J. Allen Berry, medical superintendent, explained that the matron, Mr. Reed and himself had been out to Hastings on two or three occasions. The last time was for the purpose of considering the question of beds, but when they got there they found the hospital locked, and although they searched all over Hastings they could not find the key. Mr. Berry mentioned that he had made a recommendation in his annual report, and this was as follows: –

I would say that in addition to its use as a maternity home it should also be used as a convalescent home for Hastings patients, particularly children, and that 1 or 2 beds only should be kept for emergency purposes.

We may note here that the hospital was designed for 20 beds, or 30 counting extra porch and verandah overflow accommodation available of which 7 were intended for maternity cases. That is to say up to a possible 23 for general. Medical opinion later advised against the children’s convalescent accommodation idea as we shall have occasion to note later on.)

I would suggest that no resident or honorary staff will be required if the hospital is used for the purposes I have outlined. Should an honorary staff be appointed the very natural tendency would be to increase the scope of work done at the hospital, with an added increase in the amount of equipment necessary.

Page 95

Dr. Valintine has advised the Board that for the present this procedure should be followed.

The maternity part of the hospital will be a ward of McHardy Home, and will therefore be under myself. It is proposed to hold an ante-natal clinic in Hastings, and any abnormal case will be admitted to the McHardy Home, where it will be under constant medical supervision.”

So far, he continued, there had been no definite indication that that would be accepted and until it was settled it was rather difficult to settle on what equipment would be necessary.

A H.B. County member (Mr. G. Priest) thought that so far as the recommendation of the medical superintendent was concerned, they should give some consideration to the wishes and desires, to the feelings and intentions, of those who gave the money. If they converted the hospital into what the doctor said, what was going to happen if 3 or 4 accident cases were rushed in?

A Hastings representative, however, agreed that the hospital should be mainly used as a maternity and convalescent home, and added that it was going to save the people considerable expense. He did not think it should become a base hospital, as to maintain it as such would cost the Borough of Hastings ₤17,000 a year. (The Napier maintenance levy for the previous financial year was ₤17,904 16s. 11d., increasing that financial year, with the Hastings Hospital to be considered, to ₤19,970 11s. 8d.) besides an initial capital cost of ₤80,000. He felt strongly that in the interest of the patient he should come to the base hospital at Napier, to obtain “the best advice and service it is possible to obtain in the Dominion.” If they were going to have all the broken legs and arms taken to the Hastings Hospital the first thing they would want would be an X-ray plant and then a resident staff, which it was not considered the Board’s district could support.

(At the next meeting of the Board the matter of providing an X-ray was brought up, but at the June meeting the Medical Superintendent advised against it, as being premature and increasing maintenance costs, and also on account of Royston Private Hospital just having installed an up-to-date plant, the old agreement therewith re emergency cases being still in force. An application had been made through Dr. Valintine for a Government subsidy on an X-ray plant, but after this no more was heard of it, at least for a few years.)

A Napier member thought that surely the opening could have been anticipated, and that something should be done to let the public use a hospital of which they might well be proud. (The 23rd, however was rather late in the day. Even the staining of the floors could not be done till after the opening, but from some points of view, with a big crowd tramping through, that was perhaps just as well.)


The limitation to the number of speakers and invitations made by the Hastings Memorial Committee in organising the opening ceremony proved a sore point, when the order of proceedings was tabled thereat for suggestions, at this extra meeting of the Hospital Board, which felt it had been insulted by the omission of a general invitation to all its members, as being the body which was to take over the institution (a point made was that it had already spent ₤180 on the grounds), and particularly deplored that the Mayor of Hastings

Page 96

(Mr. G.A. Maddison), as the official representative of the area from which much of the contributions had come, had not been asked to speak.

The fact of this Board meeting being held on the 23rd, while the opening was to be on the 25th, was rather unfortunate, as not giving time for smoothings [smoothing things] over and rearrangements where required.


The order of proceedings, as received by the Board, was: –

“Hymn: ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past.’
“Address by Mr. George Ebbett, Chairman of the Executive Committee, who will hand over the title deeds to Mr. J.B. Andrew, Chairman of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board.
“Reply by Mr. J.B. Andrew.
“Address by Mr. T.H.A. Valintine, Director-General of Health
“Address and formal opening of the building by the Hon. J.A. Young, Minister of Health.

“The residents of Hastings, Havelock North and surrounding districts are invited to be present and to take part in the ceremony, after which the buildings will be thrown open to the public for inspection.

The printed programme shows only some minor differences of wording. It also gives the Executive, as consisting of Messrs. G. Ebbett (Chairman), J.H. Colebourne, W. Hart, G.A. Maddison and F. Perrin (Hon. Secretary), with Mr. A.I. Rainbow as Hon. Treasurer.

The illustration on the programme shows the Memorial Hospital and grounds as at the date of opening, while an inset shows the Nurses’ Home.


The great day arrived, so long and eagerly looked forward to in the Hastings end of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board district, and on Anzac Day, Wednesday, 25th April, 1928, “with the formal handing over of the deeds by Mr. George Ebbett, Chairman of the Hospital Executive Committee, to Mr. J.B. Andrew, Chairman of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board, long years of hard and devoted work were brought to their conclusion.”

Many hundreds of people attended… and the pleasantness of the day was increased by the fact that the gardens and the building… looked their best.

The opening speech was made by Mr. George Ebbett, who apologised for the unavoidable absence of Major-General Sir Andrew Russell, Sir Geo. Hunter and the Rev. Ramsay.

Mr. Ebbett said he could not begin better than by acknowledging the debt that New Zealand owed to those that had given their lives for her, and by offering sympathy to the bereaved. After all, said Mr. Ebbett, there was a bright side to the losses that the bereaved had suffered, for it must be remembered that the fallen died gloriously in the defence of their homeland – and how could man die better?

Page 97

The hospital, the Hastings cenotaph and the Havelock monument constituted an everlasting memorial to those that had lost their lives in their country’s service and in the defence of the people’s liberty.

Mr. Ebbett then referred in a laudatory way to the Maoris who, he said, had enlisted and had given their lives in large numbers.

The speaker went on to say that it was very fitting that the people should be present for such a purpose as the opening of the hospital on a day which had such local significance as Anzac Day – a day that belonged only to New Zealand and Australia…

New Zealand could never repay its soldier dead nor those now alive who fought for her liberty… The debt to those men could not be assessed. “This hospital was erected as a memorial to their heroic deeds”, added Mr. Ebbett.

The speaker went on to say that the hospital could not within the lives of the present generation at least, become a large, fully staffed and fully equipped hospital. The district was not rich enough to support a hospital of that kind while Napier had a large hospital.

(A good deal, however, has happened in the twelve years and more that have gone by since then.)

That did not mean, however, that the Hastings Hospital did not need to be as useful nor as great a boon as it was expected to be. Its usefulness and success depended on the Hospital Board. He had been told that some of the members and some of the servants of the Board were hostile to the hospital; he could not believe it – in fact it would be foolish to believe it. For one thing, any such hostility would divide the ratepayers into factions and that was the last thing the board wanted. He hoped and expected the Board, when it approached the task of administering the hospital, to do so in a spirit of goodwill.

While personally he was satisfied with the maternity section of the hospital, said Mr. Ebbett, he was not quite satisfied with the other section of it. But he would appeal to the ratepayers to be reasonable in their demands, and to help to make the Board’s task easier.

It was difficult to convey to those present the Committee’s deep debt of gratitude to Mr. T.E. Valintine (Director-General of Health). But for the Health Department and Dr. Valintine the present buildings would not have been there, certainly there might have been a building of the kind but not a building such as was about to be opened. Dr. Valintine had given his advice and assistance without stint.

Mr. Ebbett then handed to Mr. Young a silver casket containing a gold key and having a lid engraved with a picture of the hospital. A replica of that casket, but in the form of a cigarette box, was presented to Dr. Valintine.

Mr. J.B. Andrew, chairman of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board, was then handed the title deeds of the hospital, and said that it would be a privilege and duty of the Board to carry out the intentions of the people of Hastings, and to administer the hospital to the advantage of Hastings and the surroundings.

Page 98

It would be entirely impossible to have two base hospitals in towns so near to each other as Hastings and Napier. It was the policy of the Department to establish base hospitals with subsidiary clearing stations, and with the assistance of Hastings’ very worthy representatives on the Hospital Board the Hastings Hospital would receive the best possible attention.

Dr. Valintine, continued Mr. Andrew, had always been most willing to help hospital boards throughout the district, and Mr. Young had been just as keen to carry out his job.

“As far as is humanly possible,” concluded Mr. Andrew, “we will take care of the sick of Hastings.”

After remarking that it would be almost presumptuous to endorse Mr. Ebbett’s eloquent remarks, and that every one was proud of British deeds in the war – especially of the very brave and stalwart New Zealanders – Dr. Valintine went on to discuss Hospital administration.

If a district had too many small hospitals, it would be impossible to equip properly the base hospitals of the Dominion. He hoped the Hastings Hospital would be used, so to speak, as a ward of Napier’s.

To it should come first maternity cases, for the Dominion wanted more maternity accommodation. Then should come sufferers from minor injuries and minor illnesses and Hastings convalescents from Napier who wish to be near their friends. The hospital should be used for those purposes and not as a base hospital. New Zealand already spent more than enough on hospitals.

Mr. Young opened his speech by saying that the day was a day of remembrance, and reminded all that the fundamental principle of our world-wide Christian faith was founded on the love of humanity. There could be no better memorial to the soldier sons of Hastings nor one more fitted to honour them and to remind us of our humane duties than this memorial hospital. The district deserved congratulation on having such public spirited men as those whose work was epitomised in the hospital. From the moment that the scheme was submitted to him, he had approved of the granting of the ₤9000 subsidy to the funds so generously subscribed by the citizens. The committee had invested ₤16(5)000 of it, which had earned ₤3000 in interest, and the total amount available to meet liabilities was ₤27,000.

“You could have no better memorial to those brave sons who fell”, added Mr. Young, “and I trust that the Board will welcome the co-operation of the executive committee and make this hospital the success it should be.”

Mr. Young expressed his hope that it would be possible to establish a pre-natal clinic in the maternity section of the hospital. He hoped that the institution would be popularised and that the board’s rates and charges would make the hospital available to every working man in the district. He hoped also that the medical men would not get control of it and turn maternity cases into medical and surgical cases.

In thanking Mr. Ebbett for the gift of a gold key, Mr. Young said: – “The doors will never be closed to those requiring treatment. That is the fundamental principle of our hospital system.”


Page 99




1928 – 1931


Having thus taken over the Hastings Memorial Hospital, the board at its next meeting (14th May) appointed a committee “consisting of the Hawke’s Bay County and Hastings Borough members of the Board (namely Messrs. Logan, Hoadley, Priest, McKay and Maddison” to look after the Hastings Hospital, or in other words “to act for and report to the Board when necessary on matters needing the attention of such Committee in the administration of the Hastings Memorial Hospital.”


The fact of the Hospital having been opened before it could be furnished had naturally led to some public impatience re the delay which consequently took place in bringing it into action, with complaints that the Board was holding things up on purpose.

(We may note here that the hospital was finally opened on August 1st, 1928, for maternity cases only, Sister Owen being placed in charge. On December 10 that year Mr. Maddison reminded the Board of its intention of eventually making provision for convalescent cases, but it was found that by this time unexpected numbers of maternity cases had swamped all the available accommodation, 7 beds, and the overflow had to be accommodated on the general side, which it was expected would be likewise filled within the next few months.)

At the May meeting of the Board enquiries were made by the Hastings members, and it was explained that the hospital should be ready in about six weeks, providing they got beds, etc. soon. The staffing arrangements had been held over pending the arrival of the equipment. The electric stoves for instance, would take about three weeks to arrive from England.

Reference was also made to the necessity for an honorary medical staff of two or three members, there being only one medical man from Hastings, Dr. H. M. Wilson, on the Honorary Staff at Napier at the time; also to there being only one or two beds provided for emergency cases, whereas it was considered there should be from five to seven.

Enquiry was furthermore made re provision of an ante-natal clinic, it being considered that if there was to be a maternity home there should be one attached. With this the Medical Superintendent fully agreed, deeming it one of the most essential parts of the institution. He also undertook to bring down to the Board a recommendation re honorary staff.

Page 100


At this meeting “the Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Committee asked the Board’s permission to proceed with improvement work at the entrance of the Hastings Hospital grounds.

The Committee had some ₤1800 to ₤2000 in hand for works of improvement at the hospital, and it was decided that the whole Board should confer with the Hastings Memorial Committee at its next meeting, and that a meeting of representatives of the Memorial Committee and the Board’s Hastings Ward Committee be held at the Memorial Hospital on June 21. It was felt by the Board that if the Hastings Committee had “any money available whereby the Hastings Hospital can be improved” they should encourage them.

We shall return to these matters again.

On May 17th the Hawke’s Bay Hospital advertised for tenders, up to Saturday, May 26, for the supply of bedside lockers, chairs, tables, upholstered work, horsehair mattresses, etc., for the Hastings Memorial Hospital.

At the Board meeting of June 18th the Medical Superintendent, Dr. Berry, according to the Secretary, disclaimed responsibility for delay, the main reason for which was the matter of equipment. The beds had arrived, but there was still so much to be got that no definite date could be given. It would be a tragedy if they opened the hospital and a case came in and they did not have the equipment to deal with it.

Concerning nurses, the Medical Superintendent stated that they had the maternity nurses, but with the general nurses it was more difficult, because at the time there was an inadequate staff at the Napier Hospital.

The appointment of a medical staff the Superintendent considered of great importance, and he proposed to make a full report on this matter at a later date, when the Board would be able to hear another aspect of the question. The more immediate and important matter, however, was the providing of a staff or nurses, and he believed the difficulties there were could be overcome with regard to maternity nurses in particular.

The Medical Superintendent went on to say that at a meeting with the Director-General of Health (Dr. Valintine) and his technical advisor, the question of various alterations he (Dr. Berry) had recommended was discussed, but that no finality had been reached.

He had pointed out the inadvisability of the corridor being open on the eastern aspect, for instance. The technical advisor, (Mr. Allen) saw there was adequate provision to meet the difficulties the Medical Superintendent had suggested. This admission had prompted a member of the Board to ask the Director-General who was responsible for the alterations in the plans of the hospital. “The answer was that the Health Department and the Public Works Department were both responsible”.

Another matter was the tub-room for the maternity block”. He had recommended that this should be made larger in order to accommodate a steriliser and bed-pan rack. Those articles had been omitted. To enlarge the tub-room would be an expensive work, and he believed a steriliser and a rack could be provided, although the room would be cramped and inconvenient.

Page 101

The Health Department and the Board had stressed the importance of an ante-natal clinic, but provision for the rooms necessary had been forgotten.”

However, the important thing was to get the hospital in going order, the alterations could stand over until they got a start.

The people of Hastings had meanwhile been getting more and more impatient at the apparent lack of progress, and a Hastings member complained at this meeting that he had found a big notice “To Let” on the building and had had to take it down, which he thought was beyond a joke.

The policy for the hospital, he went on, had been laid down and settled, and that was that it should be a maternity home for Hastings patients. That was decided in October. Then the Board had decided to await the return in November of Dr. Berry from abroad so as to go into the equipping of the hospital. Could Dr. Berry give him any idea as to when it would be possible to open the hospital for even 4 or 5 maternity beds?

There was, he said, a great feeling of dissatisfaction in Hastings because the hospital was not open.

It was decided that the Hastings Hospital Committee appointed by the Board should confer with the Medical Superintendent and the Matron to expedite matters as far as possible.

We shall now return to the ground improvements, etc., as noted on the previous page. We preferred not to complete the subject there and then, both to keep sequence of time and also because threads from the matters we have been treating in between will be found to enter into the further development of relations between the Board and the Memorial Committee.

At this same meeting of June 18, then, it was noted that a deputation from the Hastings Memorial Committee had recently met the Finance Committee of the Board, Mr. Ebbett informing the Hospital Board members that his committee desired to erect suitable gates at the hospital at a cost of ₤730, of which ₤400 had been promised by the Department of Health.

Plans were before the Finance Committee and were generally approved of, it being finally decided to recommend to the Board that the Memorial Committee be authorised to proceed with the work as laid down.

Mr. Ebbett had also placed before the Finance Committee the following proposals to improve the grounds and environs of the Hastings Hospital

(1)   Binding on the metal roads;
(2)   A stone fence along the frontage, surmounted by cyclone wire;
(3)   A path to be formed directly from the main road to the Nurses’ Home, in permanent material;
(4)   Tree planting; and
(5)   Tennis court for the nurses.

The Finance Committee had finally resolved that the Board be recommended to apply for subsidy on the donation from the Memorial Committee for the carrying out of these works, it having been proposed that the amount should carry subsidy, and that then the Minister’s approval for the carrying out of the work be sought.

Page 102

The cooking apparatus had cost more than was estimated, and the Memorial Committee pointed out that in view of the fact that the Department of Health still held some funds out of the ₤21,000 anticipated expenditure on the Hospital, it would be a reasonable request that the Department should pay the difference between the actual cost (₤314) and the schedule amount allowed in the contract (₤150).

In the meantime, however, the Memorial Committee agreed to pay this difference to the Board, it being then resolved that the Hospital Board should apply for a refund of this amount from the Department.

On the matter of the looking after the place generally coming up – apparently during the interval before opening in particular, the Secretary was empowered to appoint a temporary caretaker-porter.

A conference of Board and Memorial Committee representatives was duly held on June 21, the Matron and Secretary also being present (i.e. of the Napier Hospital and of the Board). Concerning improvements to the grounds and buildings the only information we have is that they were fully discussed and that in some cases decisions were arrived at, while in others recommendations were made to the Board.  We have also: –

“The Hastings representatives urged strongly that some definite date for opening the hospital should be fixed. The Matron and the Secretary were of opinion that the equipment, staffing, etc. could be got to a stage where the maternity side of the hospital at least could be opened by the end of next month (which it duly was, allowing a day), and the Board members present agreed that a strenuous effort should be made to have the hospital ready to receive maternity cases by July 31 at the latest.

At the hospital Board meeting of July 16th it was accordingly decided: –

“That the Medical Superintendent, Secretary, Matron, Chairman and Dr. Wilson be constituted a special committee to report on the staff, duties and salaries of such members of the proposed staff for servicing the Hastings Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital and on any other matters considered essential for the satisfactory functioning of this Institution, with power to act, the staff to be installed by 1st August, 1928.”  (It was understood that this would be purely for maternity purposes, that being, as noted above, all that could be made provision for at the time.)

The idea of the appointment of a temporary caretaker-porter was therefore dropped, particularly as it was understood that a sister could go out to make ready that week.

With regard to improvements, the little matter of the formation of a drying ground was to be carried out immediately, while the question of the stone fence and concrete paths was referred to the Hastings Memorial Hospital Committee, with power to act, subject to Ministerial approval and the finance being assured by means of donation from the Hastings Memorial Committee and subsidy thereon. (See lower down this page)

Re Ante-Natal Clinic it was decided that, “that as the out-patient department could at present be used without difficulty as an ante-natal clinic, the question of an ante-natal clinic at the Hastings Hospital be deferred pending further reports after the hospital has been in use for a while.

Page 103

On this same matter the Board decided that a letter be written to the Health department pointing out the omission of an ante-natal clinic, and to ask the Department to prepare plans and erect the clinic out of the funds remaining in hand.


The Hospital was duly – and finally and properly – opened on August 1, for maternity cases only. Sister Owen being placed in charge.

Re the Ante-Natal Clinic, at the August 13 meeting of the Board, word was received from the Director-General of Health advising that two single wards adjacent to the maternity block could no doubt be used in the meantime for such a purpose, pending further provision.

However, a most pleasant development had now taken place, the Misses McHardy having made, through the Hastings Memorial Committee, a donation of ₤560, which with the Government subsidy of ₤1 for ₤1 would provide sufficient for the erection of the clinic, and the Board immediately decided to take steps to obtain subsidy on the donation so that the clinic could be erected, and it was decided at the November meeting to have it called the McHardy Ante-Natal Clinic.

Before the opening of the hospital, as noted above, the making of a stone fence and concrete paths was left depending on Ministerial approval. At the 15th October Board meeting Ministerial approval was duly received to the proposed improvements to the Hastings Hospital grounds, at an estimated cost of ₤1403. We may also note that at this meeting it was decided that the (Board’s) Engineer be requested to place before the next Finance Committee a plan of his scheme for suggested water pipes for garden supply at Hastings Hospital.


Improvements to both the hospital and grounds were indeed going on steadily. Another windfall soon came to light.

At the November 12 meeting of the Board, it appears, it was decided that a concrete path be laid down on the eastern and on the western side of the roadway at the Memorial Hospital at a cost of ₤150.

It was thereupon pointed out that the public had already provided the funds to enable the work to be carried out. It seems that donations amounting to ₤150 had been received for equipping 8 beds at the hospital, the Government subsidy bringing that amount to ₤300. The equipping of the beds, however, only came to ₤120, so that there was ₤180 available for the concrete paths.

Before going on to the other main subject of this section we may stop and note that the “English” made electric stove at the Hastings Memorial Hospital had proved so satisfactory and economical (2/6½d. per day) that the introduction of electric cooking was advocated for the Napier Hospital.

Page 104

It was also decided at this November meeting that the Hastings Soldiers’ Memorial Committee, having now completed its work in connection with the Memorial Hospital at Hastings, was to wind up its affairs and forward any balance of funds in its possession to the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board, the Memorial Hospital now being under the control of that body.

We shall refer further to this winding up in its due place, when we come to the final meeting.

At its December meeting (10th) of 1928 the Board was reminded of its intention of eventually making provision for convalescent cases, but it was found that by this time unexpected numbers of maternity cases had swamped all the available accommodation – 7 beds – and the overflow had to be accommodated on the general side, which it was expected would be filled likewise with maternity cases during the next few months. The medical superintendent did not think to have convalescent and maternity cases in the same ward would be very desirable.

Before coming to the end of 1928 and going on to the final meeting next year of the Hastings Memorial Committee, we shall stop a moment to record another little item of improvements.

On the 17th December, at a special Board meeting, tenders were accepted for binding the gravel roadway ₤50 and also for the stone wall fence we have already twice referred to, at ₤395, which was the second lowest tender “providing that the workman who carried out the work on the rest house is employed on the job.”


Its work done, the end of the Hastings Memorial Committee was now drawing near. Its final meeting was held on February 12, 1929. The day before, the Hospital Board, in answer to the Committee’s request, decided to send the Matron, Medical Superintendent, Secretary, Chairman and any member who cared to attend, to represent the Board thereat.


The Board meeting (i.e. 11th February) brought news of still further progress at the Hospital. A ”radio equipment” for the Hastings Hospital had been handed over to the Mayor of Hastings, Mr. G.A. Maddison as on behalf of the Board, by the Hawke’s Bay Radio Society, this being a matter in which Bishop Bennett had taken a great and effective interest.

It was decided to prepare plans for the ante-natal clinic, and an expenditure of a further ₤30 was authorised for the binding material in the Hospital roadways. These three matters very appropriately include amenities for patients and staff, additions to buildings, and ground improvements, which were being carried on under the control of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board.

Page 105


Thus when the Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Committee (quoted as Hastings in report, but should rightly be Hawke’s Bay) made its last appearance, on Tuesday, February 12, it could look with pride to its long struggle and worthy accomplishments in the past, with well-founded satisfaction to the present, and with a certain measure of confidence to the future. We say a certain measure as there was one thing no Hastings organisation could feel happy about, and that was that there was no sign of any intention or likelihood of the Memorial Hospital being used as anything else but a Maternity Home.

Mr. Geo. Ebbett’s final report as Chairman of the Committee, as prepared for delivery at the closing meeting of the general committee, runs as follows: –

“As the Memorial Hospital has now been handed over to the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board, and the time arrived when all the accounts in connection therewith can be closed, we desire to present to the committee for their consideration a report and balance sheet.

This executive was appointed to arrange the erection and completion of the hospital buildings. There were many difficulties in the early stages, and in this connection we may mention the restrictive building regulations and the financial slump. There were others which came about in the ordinary course of events. There were also others the origin of which we do not know, and it would serve no good purpose to discuss them now.

An undertaking had been given to hand the site and buildings over to the Board clear of any encumbrances. As we had only a certain fixed sum of money available for the buildings and no other resources, it became of paramount importance for us to see that our expenditure in this direction did not exceed that sum. We found the matter of getting a building designed at a contract price which with extras and unforeseen contingencies would be certain to be within the money at our disposal, was a great difficulty. Finally the Health Department undertook to erect the buildings, and in case the money in hand proved to be not sufficient they also undertook the risk of having to find the balance.

The buildings were erected by the Department under the supervision and control of its officers, and we think great credit is due to them for the satisfactory and thorough manner in which the work was carried out.

The institution was declared open last Anzac Day by the then Minister of Health, the Hon. J.A. Young, and soon afterwards its control and administration were transferred to the Hospital Board.

In the beginning it was distinctly agreed between the Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Committee, the Health Department and the Hospital Board, that this should be an auxiliary or emergency hospital and a maternity home. So far it has been used only as a maternity home, and in that capacity it has been largely used and has served its purpose admirably.

Although space and facilities for the purpose are provided in the building, the Board has made no provision for the admission of emergency cases or for hospital cases of any other kind and apparently there is no present intention on the part of the Board to see that the arrangement made is carried out.

Page 106

The local members of the Board (i.e. Hastings members) have already made great efforts for the advancement and betterment of the Hastings Emergency Hospital. We think the Board might again be approached in order to try to discover their intentions. If they do not intend to carry out the arrangement, let it be so stated. If this is refused we think the Health Department should be approached, with the knowledge of the Board, and the position be placed before the Department.

When the entrance and fence (i.e. concrete, etc.) on the Omahu Road boundary have been completed, we think the whole institution will constitute a memorial worthy of those in memory of whose sacrifice it was erected.

The balance sheet shows that we received in subscriptions and interest ₤20,276 4s. 7d. and from other sources ₤201 4s. 4d., a total of ₤20,477 8s. 11d. We earned ₤2827 7s. 8d. (i.e. of this total) in interest and ₤162 4s. 4d. in grazing fees.

The expenditure amounted to ₤20,352 11s. 5d., including ₤700 for the Havelock Monument and ₤927 4s. 4d. for the Hastings Cenotaph. There is a balance in hand of ₤124 17s. 6d.

We are committed to a donation of ₤10 towards the cost of the radio set at the Hospital and we suggest the balance might be retained. There are a number of outstanding subscriptions which have been promised by responsible persons who admit their liability, and these may be paid. There will always be plenty of avenues for expenditure at the hospital.

In addition to the moneys accounted for in the Balance Sheet the following sums have been received for the provision of beds and other equipment at the hospital: – Taradale Returned Soldiers’ Association, the Hastings Returned Soldiers’ Association, the Heretaunga Masonic Lodge, and Miss Bessie Anderson of Kereru ₤25 each; The Loyal Hastings Lodge and the National Defence League ₤20 each: Independent Order of Buffaloes, ₤15.

Again we wish to express our appreciation and our indebtedness to Mr. A.I. Rainbow, the honorary treasurer, for the very accurate and excellent manner in which he has kept the accounts.

A conference was also held at the meeting between the representatives of the Board and the Memorial Committee. We quote the report thereof in full: –

“The prolonged disagreement of opinion on the present uses to which the Hastings Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital is being put and on the uses to which it should have been put, were laid at rest, officially at least, at a conference between representatives of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board and the Hastings Hospital Committee at Hastings last evening, the occasion being the Committee’s final meeting (in the Borough Council Chambers). Our (i.e. the Herald’s) report of the proceedings is merely a digest of them, for the discussion, as was only proper, was thoroughly exhaustive. All parties to the conference were very friendly, very frank, and in the end evidently fairly well satisfied with the hospital’s destiny as defined by the Board’s representatives.

There was a question to ask, said Mr. Ebbett, in opening the meeting, and all knew what it was. When the Hospital was built it was agreed that it should be an emergency auxiliary hospital and a maternity home. There might have been difficulties, but the general public did not know what they were, and an explanation was due to them. Those that had given money gave it to pay for an emergency hospital, but they had not got what they paid for. The difficulties might have been insuperable and the cost prohibitive, but it should be made known what the difficulties were. He would like the Hospital Board members present to give an explanation which could be handed on by the

Page 107

Press to the public. He himself would not express such an opinion, but it was to some extent Hastings public opinion that Dr. Berry was most hostile to Hastings. The public might be wrong, but that was their interpretation of Press reports of the Board’s proceedings. If such opinions were wrong, they should be dissipated.

Mr. G.A. Maddison said that to get a discussion going he would define the Board’s standpoint. It was true that the hospital had originally been intended as an auxiliary to Napier for the treatment of emergency and convalescent cases as well as maternity cases. It allowed for 7 maternity beds and 14 others. (Total 21, not 20 as given in report just before opening.) The training of the necessary nurses was probably one of the chief causes of delay at the outset, and it was wise of the Board to feel its way at the beginning. Experience had since shown that it was necessary to use the Hospital almost entirely for maternity purposes. There were now 15 beds available for such cases, and they were more or less constantly occupied. Also, it had been necessary to use 5 rooms as an ante-natal clinic, and only on Monday the Government had sent word that it would subsidise Misses McHardy’s gift of ₤500 for the purpose of building an ante-natal clinic, which would release those 5 rooms for maternity purposes.

He had pressed Dr. Berry to make room for child convalescents, but the doctor had replied that the risk of infection made such a concession impossible. As for admitting emergency cases, it would be financial madness to spend money on providing accommodation for them. To do so would mean an additional ₤17,000 burden annually upon the ratepayers. Dr. H.M. Wilson had said there were not more than 4 or 5 emergency cases from Hastings each year and by the Board’s arrangement with Royston Hospital, emergency cases could be taken there until they were fit for removal to Napier. If such patients could not afford to pay at Royston, then the Board would pay. No one would be more pleased than he to see Hastings have an efficient hospital of its own, but it would be ruinous to try to make out of it anything even resembling a base hospital.

There had been a change of weather at Monday’s meeting of the Board, said Mr. Maddison, and some members had come to realise that they had not always been quite fair to Hastings. At that meeting the Board accepted a motion to place on its next year’s estimates a sum to provide for convalescent wards at the hospital. When the money was available, Hastings would be able to treat its own convalescent cases; and later perhaps, to provide for a few emergency cases.

Mr. C.O. Morse (Chairman, as from 17th September 1928 of the Hospital Board) said he also would like to say something of what was in the Board’s mind, though Mr. Maddison had described the position as most members saw it. It had been suggested that Napier members were very much against the Hastings Hospital. That was most unfair. As for himself he was considered as a Napier member but he represented Havelock North and Taradale and could assure the public that he had no anti-Hastings axe to grind.

As for Mr. Maddison’s reference to finance, he himself had considered that point. This year the Board’s progress had not been what it might have been, and it had been hard to place on the estimates a sum sufficient to cover the whole costs of administration. There had been ₤3000 for the Hastings Hospital, but probably it would all be gone by the end of March. As Mr. Maddison had said, the Board had put aside some money for Hastings requirements next year. The Board was governed by direction of the Health Department, and when the country changed its Government it had been necessary to confer with the Minister of Health to know what policy would be approved. It would be easy for the board to say that it would go ahead with the Hospital, but it could not carry out any schemes without the approval of the authorities.

Page 108

“Mr. Maddison had been too modest”, said Mr. Morse, “in estimating the cost of providing for treatment of patients in Hastings, for he had not reckoned on the interest on the capital expenditure. On a population basis, he himself would estimate the cost to be ₤20,000, or nearly that, for the first few years, to the people of Hastings and Havelock. The present rates were only about ₤5000 a year. In a few days the Minister of Health would be here and it might be wise if members of the Committee met the Board and put their views before him.

“Mr. Ebbett: “We would get a Government subsidy on the rates. The position would still be bad, I admit, but not so bad as you make out.”

Dr. Berry began by saying: “The statements that I am hostile to the Hastings Hospital are absolutely incorrect,” and went on to say that the difficulties of staffing and equipping the Hospital, besides the fact that in each year Hastings supplied only 4 or 5 cases needing urgent medical treatment, made the cost not at all worth while. Now, after 6 months, it seemed that the hospital was always going to be in full use.

As for convalescent children, they were extraordinarily liable to infection and any infection might go across to the maternity side. For the same reason nearly all the children in the Napier Hospital were kept in quarantine. It was obviously undesirable to have adult male convalescents in the same hospital as maternity convalescents.

Mr. Maddison said he had done his best to get the Hospital functioning as it was intended to function – to treat maternity cases on the one side and hospital cases on the other. Some had evidently believed such an arrangement possible, and he had followed their opinions. However, Dr. said it could not be and that there was a danger of infection. He was the Medical Superintendent and the Board must be guided by him.

The meeting closed with resolutions of thanks (to be conveyed by letter) to Dr. T.H.A. Valintine for his generous assistance, and of thanks to Messrs. Geo. Ebbett (Chairman) and F. Perrin (Secretary of the Committee), A.I. Rainbow, R.D. Brown, and to Dr. Berry, Messrs. Morse and E.T. Rees and Matron MacDonald for attending as representatives of the Hospital Board.

In thanking the Memorial Committee for its kind resolution, Dr. Valintine made his attitude re the use to which the Hospital was to be put very clear: –

“I do sincerely hope that it will be reserved almost entirely for maternity cases and that except for cases of minor illness, all patients requiring serious medical and surgical treatment will be sent to the Napier Hospital.”


At the March (11th) meeting of the Hospital Board a donation of ₤25 was received as from the Heretaunga Lodge for the purchase of a writing desk and glass fronted (book) cupboard for the Memorial Hospital and it was decided “That ₤25 be expended on the purchase of gramophone records and books for use in the Hastings Hospital.” (We presume from the usual subsidy on such a gift.

₤15 was received from the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes towards the equipping of a bed, and it was decided to obtain subsidy thereon.

Page 109

At a special Capital Expenditure meeting later the same day a sum of ₤1,200 for the Ante-Natal clinic was placed on the estimates, and was duly recommended at a special meeting on the 25th, when a further sum of ₤500 for “Roads, Napier and Hastings” appears on the estimates.

At the April 15 meeting the question of a Convalescent Home at Hastings was brought up, but as the proposal involved reducing the sum of ₤10,000 for an Isolation Ward at Napier to ₤7,000, to provide ₤3000 for the purpose, it was somewhat naturally thrown out, particularly seeing that it had been proposed for and failed to find a place on the estimates in March.

For the Ante-Natal Clinic it was now decided to have plans and specifications prepared and that as soon as the incoming Board had approved them, tenders be called.


At the Board meeting of June 17, 1929, “the establishment of an outpatients’ department at the Hastings Hospital was under consideration… but a favourable recommendation was not forthcoming from the Medical Superintendent, Dr. J. Allan Berry, because of the fact that there was a shortage of house surgeons, and he could not spare a house surgeon to travel from Napier to Hastings.”

The Chairman of the Board considered it was advisable to establish an out-patients’ department in Hastings, and asked whether in view of the Medical Superintendent’s report they could make arrangements with an outside practitioner to cope with the work in Hastings. Something should be done for the Hastings people, he said. In a measure they were being penalised in having to come to Napier by bus. It would only require an attendance of once or twice a week by the medical practitioner.

It was pointed out that with the establishment of an outpatients department at the maternity hospital the same risks would be run as if in-patients were admitted.

The Chairman therefore added that it was not his idea that the clinic should be confined to the Hastings Hospital. He thought that arrangements could possibly be made for the clinic to be where the District Nurse was established (i.e. at the King’s Theatre.)

Improvements continued to be made, and at this meeting authority was given to plant 50 lemon and shelter trees if necessary and the Hastings Memorial Committee was written to asking whether they intended putting down a tennis court at the Hospital as promised, or whether they would forward the Board a donation sufficient to cover cost.

It was also mentioned at this meeting that the arrangement whereby, instead of having to be taken to Napier, serious accident cases could be treated at the Royston Hospital at the Board’s expense, was still in force.

At its meeting of 16th September the Board decided to write the Hastings Borough Council requesting a report as to the suitability of the Hastings Hospital Grounds for tar sealing together with an estimate of the cost, and the Borough Council thereupon agreed to do the work itself.

Page 110

In December, 1929, W.H. Walker and Sons made a gift of six boxes of seedlings, and a large collection of medical books, from which the Medical Superintendent of the Napier Hospital made a selection of such ones as might be useful to the Memorial Hospital, was donated by Dr. Storey.

The grounds of the Hospital being 18 acres, they continued to be let out in part for grazing, providing a certain revenue. At the beginning of 1930, in making a new agreement, it was expressly stipulated that no cattle be allowed. (One would think cattle would be inclined to be rather noisy at times.)

In March 1930 an agreement by the Board, following an intimation by the Director-General of Health that the Board could supply drugs and dressings free of charge, to charge the District Nursing Association therefor, as a means of making legally available funds from the Board, which it could not grant direct, was hailed by members as “the first step towards the establishment of an outpatients’ department in Hastings which “was what they all wanted to see.”

The tentative estimates the same month showed: Paths and Roadway Hastings Hospital ₤350; District Nurse’s quarters at Hastings or ante-natal clinic, Miss McHardy’s donation ₤1200; Hastings Hospital Heating ₤300. By now the ante-natal clinic seems to have been holding fire rather a long time.


At the April 14 meeting of the Hospital Board the following report was brought forward: –

“Last year was the first complete year for which the hospital functioned, and the result has shown that it was a very necessary institution for Hastings, and that in the near future its facilities will be taxed to the uttermost, as the admissions are constantly increasing, and it has already established a very fine record for service, and is spoken of by all in the most appreciative terms.

A conference has recently taken place at Hastings (between representatives of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board, the Hastings District Nursing Association, Dr. A.C.B. Biggs, Medical Superintendent at the Napier Hospital, and Dr. Shore, representing the Health Department) with a view to establishing an outpatients’ department in conjunction with permanent quarters for the District Nurse.” Dr. Shore finally stated that he was prepared to return to Wellington and recommend the erection of an outpatients’ department for Hastings, to be built on the hospital site, in which building would be incorporated quarters for the District Nurse.

It was unanimously agreed upon by all parties concerned that the establishment of a clinic, where all patients from the Hastings district could attend and have their wants attended to, would be a very great acquisition to the medical service rendered in Hastings. At present many Hastings people who required outpatient treatment have to come all the way into Napier to receive attention.

Reference was made to the munificent donation of the Misses McHardy, of Havelock North, of approximately ₤600, for the establishment of an ante-natal clinic, and which, with subsidy, amounted to approximately ₤1200,

Page 111

and it was suggested that this amount could not be spent on a more deserving object than such an outpatients’ department, as it had now been found that the ante-natal clinic could be well catered for in the hospital itself without the necessity of providing a special building, and that therefore the Misses McHardy be approached by a deputation requesting that they consent to the use of their donation for this purpose.

It was decided that a nurse would be provided by the Hospital Board at the outpatients’ clinic, and that the District Nurse’s activities would remain as previously, with the understanding that she would use the outpatients’ department for doing such dressings etc., as were necessary.

The question of finance was considered, and it was finally left to the District Nursing Association to confer and to undertake the payment of a flat rate per annum towards the District Nurse, after which they would let the Board know the amount decided upon.” An offer of ₤110 per annum was duly made and accepted.

The necessity for the outpatients’ department to be entirely separate and apart from the Maternity Hospital was stressed and it was pointed out that the present policy of the authorities (i.e. the Department) was strictly against any suggestion of a mixed hospital.

We cannot find figures for the year’s operations, but for the 10 months April 1930 to February 1931 the number of admissions was 174, the daily average being 6.81.

We may note here that electric current had been previously supplied by the Hastings Borough Council, but in April 1930 the H.B. Electric Power Board advised that it could now supply current direct.

Also, that for 1929-30 Hastings Borough paid in levies to the H.B. Hospital Board ₤3904 towards maintenance and ₤1116 to capital expenditure, while for 1930-1 the estimates were ₤4568 and ₤406 respectively.

Of the other bodies which might be considered as partly concerned with the service given by the Hastings Hospital, the H.B. County paid in 1929-30 ₤13,199 and ₤3,774 in maintenance and capital respectively, while the corresponding estimates for 1930-1 were ₤14,777 and ₤1,314; and the Havelock North Town District paid in 1929-30 ₤368 and ₤105, with estimates for 1930-1 ₤417 and ₤37.

The total Hospital Board expenditure for 1929-30 was ₤22,604 10s. 3d. maintenance and ₤6463 4s. 3d. capital, while the estimates for 1930-1 were ₤25,616 5s. 8d. and ₤2279.


To complete the picture given by the above figures we may note here that between April 1 and November 30 that year (1930) ₤1809 was spent on maintenance at the Hastings Hospital, ₤61 below the estimate, which would therefore be ₤1870 for the 8 months or ₤2805 for the year’s maintenance.

It will therefore be seen that the Hastings Borough’s maintenance contribution alone was more than covering the expenditure, without counting contributions by other areas which might be partly interested. The idea of a general hospital in Hastings was by no means dead, and was only awaiting a suitable opportunity to again manifest itself.

Page 112

Meanwhile the prospect of an outpatients’ department was something.

At the November 17 meeting of the Hospital Board it was stated “that the plans of the outpatients’ department buildings at Hastings would be received within the next few days”, when tenders would be called immediately, no delay being anticipated.

The position now seemed stabilised for a long time to come, with the Hastings Memorial Hospital as a Maternity Home, having a separate department to look after the Hastings outpatients, in conjunction with a very efficient District Nursing scheme, while a Maori District Nurse looked after the Maoris of the whole Hospital Board district. Urgent accident cases were being dealt with by a special Hastings ambulance, which took them to Napier, and by a very satisfactorily working arrangement with the well-equipped Royston Private Hospital.

Such was the position at the beginning of 1931.

Page 113


The 1931 Earthquake

On February 3rd, 1931, however, the Earthquake took place, almost totally wrecking Napier Hospital and rendering it unusable, while the Hastings Hospital received no serious structural damage.


Napier, we may note in passing, established a temporary hospital at the Napier Park Racecourse, shifting back in a few days to marquees and the wooden T.B. shelters on the old site. Full reconditioning was spread over a period of several years. At the time of the ‘Quake as many as possible were evacuated to hospitals down the line, and the full quota of accommodation was not required. For instance, we have record on February 19 of the Chairman of the Hospital Board having stated that “within 30 days a hospital of 50 or 60 beds would be available in Napier, which was considered sufficient at the time. As the population of Napier, which had been largely evacuated, began to come back, and the arrangements with hospitals down the line, which could not be carried on indefinitely, came to an end, the problem of inadequate and unsuitable accommodation, never enough, in spite of all the makeshifts that could be devised, became always troublesome and sometimes serious.

The McHardy Maternity Home at Napier had been badly damaged, and was first of all evacuated to a marquee set up for the purpose in the Napier Park Racecourse Grounds.

We shall now detail the emergency steps taken in Hastings, as given in the report of Dr. Biggs, Medical Superintendent of the Napier Hospital, as published in the Herald of 4th March.

In dealing with Napier, Friday, 6th February is the last date mentioned, then he goes on: –

“Hastings was visited and was found to be admirably served by the local medical men, who had established an excellent emergency station in the buildings of the Hastings Racecourse. This dressing station was staffed by the medical practitioners of the town and by the staff of the Royston Private Hospital, who immediately undertook the task of establishing the medical and nursing services for the whole of Hastings; without their efforts the townspeople would have been in a very bad way. The chemists and many voluntary workers gave them great assistance.

Within three hours everything was established, operations were being performed exactly as they would be in a regular hospital, and all patients carefully attended to in every way. The combined result is one of which they have every reason to be proud.” (From another account: –

“A dressing station was also established (by the Red Cross) for the purpose of dealing with minor casualties, who had to attend regularly each day for dressings. This valuable unit overcame the necessity of patients walking right out to the hospital at the Racecourse, and also prevented any congestion at that institution and inconvenience to the patients themselves.

Page 114

The dressing station was in very capable hands, and a matter of up to 200 cases were handled daily, and the fact that the station was able to close down a week ago (as before February 26, say February 18-19), with all the patients cured, proved what a wonderful success it was.”

We may further add to Dr. Bigg’s report that the Hastings District Nursing Association organised a special committee, presided over by Miss Holland, which, working unremittingly after the earthquake, visited the homes in the urban area and looked to the needs of the women and children, bringing the sick into touch with the District and Plunket Nurses and distributing food and clothing to those in need. To return to the Superintendent’s report: –

“The Memorial Maternity Hospital at Hastings was fortunately very little damaged, but the staff and patients were all housed in tents in the grounds; they continued to carry on for emergency work, but all maternity cases that could travel further down the line were encouraged to do so. (The slight amount of damage suffered was to be considered more than fortunate later, on account of the state of the McHardy Home in Napier.)


With these facts before it, the Hastings Borough Council, at its meeting of March 5, decided: –

“That recent events have shown the necessity for a general hospital in Hastings, and that the Minister of Health be written to urging the necessity for such a hospital.”

The Minister in due course replied that before a permanent building programme was embarked upon the Department would give careful consideration to the matter, and the Council’s representations would be given due weight.

On March 18 it was mentioned that the Napier Hospital was to be moved back to its old site (from the Park Racecourse) next day (c.p. Chairman’s forecast on February 19 re 50-60 bed hospital within 30 days), and a meeting re rebuilding was to be held in a week or so, the Health Department having been asked to survey the site.


We now intend to depart from the proper order of events so that we can treat an episode which is itself a digression, as it did not come to anything, and then to return to the main thread.

At the Hospital Board meeting of 25th April, 1931, the question was introduced by the Hastings members, at that time Messrs. G.A. Maddison and C. Duff, of transferring the base hospital to Hastings. This idea had a long and contentious history, even to the signing of a monster petition by the Hastings people, with reams of newspaper correspondence and criss-crossing Ministerial visits and deputations innumerable, before it finally faded from the scene.

The reasons adduced were: –

1.   That the Napier site, where the buildings had been so badly wrecked, was dangerous, and also, that such an impression having got abroad and being

Page 115

generally held, it would have a bad psychological and hence physical effect upon the patients. The Health Department and Government geologists, who reported favourably on the Napier site, decided the first part of this matter, time gradually disposed of the second. In this connection passing mention was made of the awkward position that would have arisen for Hastings and district if the land around Napier had sunk instead to the amount it had risen and thus isolated Napier Hospital. Despite official opinion re the Napier site, the question of shingle foundations, as at Hastings, etc. was for long argued ad nauseam in the newspapers, it being noted, however, that much of Napier’s destruction had occurred on such a foundation.

2.   That Hastings was the centre of and served a larger and had a faster growing population than Napier. Conclusions appeared to vary according to the statistical criteria adopted.

The argument of relative commercial importance was also brought up, as well as distribution of rating capacity. The Hastings interests, and this was a deciding factor, did not have the larger representation on the Hospital Board. Out of a Board of 10, 3 were Napier, 2 Hastings and 5 H.B. County members and the centre of interest of most of these last was Napier. In 1935, however, we may note, it was decisively shown, by a considerable majority, that the Hastings interests – south of the Ngaruroro disposed of the most votes, and the 5 county members were thenceforth all representatives of Hastings claims and desires. By that time, however, the reinstatement of the Napier Hospital was well advanced, and there was no talk by then of making Hastings the base hospital instead. There was, however, as we shall see, a move made from then on to build up the Hastings Memorial Hospital into a fully-equipped general hospital as adequate for the needs of its own district as Napier.

3.   Distance – about which we have noted a good deal before. Much was made in this connection not only of the danger to serious and accident cases in travelling to Napier and having to go up the hill, but also of the inconvenience and expense to visiting relatives in having to go so far.

4.   That the Napier buildings being wrecked and Hastings having a good and practically undamaged building it would be a less costly matter to have it enlarged and adapted to the purpose. This was the core of the agitation. Against this it was found that much valuable equipment etc. could be salvaged and some of the buildings reconditioned at Napier.

5.   Greater accessibility and cheaper construction costs on flat, and the spacious grounds at Hastings, as against Napier’s overcrowded site were also mentioned.

6.   Elevation and sunshine exposure and freedom from fog were brought up in favour of Napier, and supported by the testimony of the Department and local and visiting (as Drs. Mayo and McEachern) doctors. Against that it was argued that the site, judging by Royston’s long and excellent pre-earthquake record, could not be appreciably healthier than Hastings.

7.   Flood danger at Hastings was also brought up.

However, at this April meeting the matter was only tentatively brought up, the emphasis being placed on adequate general accommodation for Hastings, and the site question was deferred to a later meeting of the Board. All the arguments above were to be brought out and fully developed in the weeks to come.

Page 116

At a meeting on May 18th of the Hastings Chamber of Commerce the question was taken up much more strongly and it was decided that a deputation wait upon the Minister of Health on his visit to the district.


A few days later a dramatic development took place. Miss Henrietta Lavinia Kelly, who was killed in the Masonic Hotel, Napier, on February 3, had left £35,000 for building and general purposes for the Hastings Hospital.

Hastings now had a first class argument. With the usual Government subsidy, this would amount to £70,000, and when in July the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board applied for a loan of £82,500 to rebuild on the old site, this was strongly opposed, the Hastings Chamber of Commerce sending a resolution to the Loans Board on the ground that with the then existing economic stress it was most uneconomic to spend this amount to reinstate a wrecked hospital, when there were perfectly good buildings which had cost £20,000 with £70,000 available for additions thereto, at Hastings, which would save the added rates burden of a loan, even if earthquake loans were being granted at 5 years free of interest. (Such protests possibly had an effect in the reduction of the loan actually allowed Napier to £66,000. There were already doubts as to the realisation value of the first class 6 and 6½% mortgage securities of which the bequest was composed, and when they would be realisable, it being finally found that it would not be available for some years.

Meanwhile, information had come that the Government was not granting any subsidies under the then economic conditions.

With the practical basis thus removed, one that might possibly have had some influence on the Department, and with the weight of Board representation against it, the base hospital proposal had no hope of success.

Having made this digression, we shall now return to the events after the earthquake and to the actual steps made in securing general and adequate hospital accommodation for Hastings. We may say that here the Kelly Bequest proved a prime factor.



The Napier Medical Superintendent reported, as up to the end of March, 1931: –

“The emergency hospital on the Hastings Racecourse continued to deal with cases in that district. The maternity work of the whole district has fallen on the Memorial Home at Hastings, the McHardy Home in Napier being quite out of action for maternity work, and used temporarily to house the nursing staff (of the Napier Hospital.) At the Hastings Memorial Home the patients were treated during February in tents, but early in March all moved back into the permanent building and have remained there, the work continuing as in normal times.”

Such a state of affairs was one “that can only be of a temporary nature and that must undergo considerable modification during the following year.”

Page 117

At the aforementioned April 20 meeting of the Hospital Board it was decided that the question of what action should be taken in the matter of providing more satisfactory accommodation for patients at Hastings be referred to a committee and a Departmental officer to report to the Board.

It having been stressed that with rain the temporary hospital on the Hastings Racecourse, the marquees being without wooden floors, was not at all satisfactory, and that the time had come for Hastings to have the Memorial Hospital open for general requirements; it was therefore suggested that the temporary field hospital be closed as soon as possible and the patients transferred to the Memorial Hospital, temporary accommodation to be provided for maternity cases, the number of general cases being much greater.

A suggestion had been made by the Department of Health that 6 public beds be installed at Royston Hospital, but this had not been considered practicable by the authorities of that institution, and it was therefore decided that as the number of beds was inadequate for Hastings, the Department’s suggestion could not be adopted.

(While speaking of Royston Hospital, we may note here, as its staff and organisation came in so opportunely, together with the medical men of the district, to meet the situation with the Racecourse Emergency Hospital that at its meeting of May 14 the Hastings Borough Council placed on record its gratitude to “Drs. Bathgate, Cashmore, Comrie, Moller, Purves, Kitchen, Wilson, White and Wright for their great assistance at the Hastings Emergency Hospital, and to Drs. Reeve, McDonnell and Tosswill for their assistance outside, and to the sisters and nurses who helped, many voluntarily, in aiding Sister Williams (Royston) and her staff in staffing the Racecourse Hospital, also the great number of voluntary workers and laymen under Mr. de Denne who gave such great assistance, and congratulates them on the wonderful work done by them there and on the splendid spirit which was in evidence from the opening to the closing of the institution.”)

To return to April 20.

Six beds would certainly have been quite inadequate. It was pointed out that there was no adequate accommodation at Napier to cope with the patients, while the day before there were 21 patients being attended to at the temporary Hastings hospital, and there would have been many more if there had been any accommodation. “They were being nursed in their homes when they should be in hospital where they would get proper attention.”

With regard to the suggestion to transfer the general patients to the Memorial Hospital, the Hastings members of the Board had gone into the question of capacity there, “and it had been learnt that it would be possible to deal with 40 or 50 beds”, though the Department might not admit that it was possible to deal with that number.

At the present time there were 13 patients (maternity) in the Hospital, and the most there had ever been was 22. It seemed a pity that this beautiful building should be kept there and only half used, when the people were crying out for accommodation.

The Hastings member has also gone into the question of leasing a house that would be suitable for maternity work, but these required up to £500 to be spent on them to meet the maternity requirements.” (1)

Page 118

It was further pointed out that the sum of about £24,000 had been raised by public subscription to commemorate those who had fallen in the Great War. The hospital was to have been for maternity and emergency cases, but it had been used largely for maternity cases only. It was now up to the Board to honour its contract to those who had subscribed the fund and make it for both purposes. A new position had been created by the earthquake, and it was felt that there were no other two towns in New Zealand as close together as Napier and Hastings where accommodation was provided in only one. The time had come when the hospital should be used for accident as well as maternity cases.

The Hastings Hospital was serving a population of 17,000 to 19,000 and was thus entitled to fair accommodation. If it meant more accommodation the Board was assured that it would not be called upon to provide a penny of it.

On Monday, May 18, 1931, the Racecourse Hospital was finally closed by the Mayor, Mr. G.F. Roach, thereby marking the end of the old Royston Hospital. We have already mentioned the Borough Council’s resolution of gratitude to the staff, helpers and medical men.

It had been felt by the Department that patients from the Racecourse Hospital could not be taken to the Memorial Hospital, as it would be dangerous to put them with the maternity cases, but realising the urgency of the conditions, four days after expressing this opinion they had wired up to mix them.

(1) NOTE. According to a Herald article of May 21, the Memorial Hospital had cost in all (apparently including monuments, etc. between £28,000 and £30,000, of which amount £18,579 was raised by public subscription, and £9,000 granted as Government subsidy. (Making a total of £27,579.) With the Kelly Bequest of £35,000 the hospital had “thus benefited to the extent of over (?) £53,000 as a result of private gifts. (At least £52,579).

Page 119


The Campaign for an Adequate General Hospital

1931 – 1934


At a huge public meeting held in Hastings on May 26th a resolution was passed: –

“That this meeting is emphatically of the opinion that the time has fully arrived when proper and adequate hospital accommodation and also reasonable maternity accommodation, more easily accessible to the people of Hastings and surrounding districts should be made available by utilising and if necessary adding to, the existing Memorial Hospital and providing the necessary building for maternity cases, and that a copy of the resolution be sent to the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board, the Minister of Health and the Members (of Parliament) of the district concerned”.

The Minister of Health approved the resolution on principle, stating that it was the subject of consideration in connection with the general question of restoring hospital services for the Hawke’s Bay Hospital District.

Another resolution was passed re base hospital, a referendum being suggested, an idea of which the Minister did not approve, but we have already indicated what finally happened in this matter.

Mention was made of the necessity that was apparent for another wing for the Hastings Hospital. This would give 25 additional beds, “and with the nine already in the hospital they would have 34. The Board had seen that that was necessary, but when the architect came up from Wellington they found they could accommodate them (i.e. a comparable number, by making use of verandahs and other means which will be further referred to presently) in the present hospital and the Board cancelled the previous arrangements.

It was further suggested that the Memorial Hospital be opened immediately as a general hospital with 40 or 45 beds, and that some provision be made for maternity cases. The sum of £10,000 could be used for maternity purposes and £25,000 could be used in the meantime for maintenance. (i.e. the £35,000 Kelly Bequest.)


At a special meeting of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board on May 27th, it was affirmed as desired in the resolution brought by a deputation (consisting of the Hastings Mayor, Mr. G.F. Roach, and Messrs, G.A. Maddison, H.M. Campbell, M.P., Geo. Ebbett and H.V. Hoadley, with Sergeant-Major O’Leary) from the Hastings meeting of May 26th that adequate accommodation should be provided for at Hastings.

In newspaper correspondence of June 1, one of the Hastings Board members noted that following on the resolution concerning accommodation at Hastings being thus agreed to unanimously by the Board, there resulted an immediate curtailment of the heavy accommodation planned for Hospital Hill at Napier, the scheme there being cut down to 100 beds from 150, and the cost reduced from £110,000 down to probably 60%. (Actually it was cut down to £82,500 in asking a loan, but only £66,000 of this was for the actual

Page 120

Abuilding, the £15,650, which was deferred by the Loans Board, being for the Park Island Old Peoples’ Home. The 60% estimate was therefore very accurate.)

Before going on to the next section we shall stop to note two odd matters.

On June 12, 1931, it was noted that the approximate Hospital Board levy for Hastings for the ensuing year amounted to £3566, which was £1500 less than was imposed the previous year.

At the Board meeting of June 15 it was noted that the evening before a move – which was unsuccessful – had been made by the Hastings Chamber of Commerce to increase the Hastings representation on the Board. One was also made to increase the County Council representation, but met with no better success, though the Board gave its support in this case, the Department not being favourable. The crux of the matter was the population basis and also the valuation basis used. A certain amount of re-shuffling of areas within the existing framework was afterwards done.


At the same meeting it was reported that the Hastings staff consisted of 10 sisters and nurses (Napier 25 sisters and nurses), there being 24 general patients in the hospital at the time.

To give an idea of the scope of the work we may mention that during the Amonth before 50 general patients had been admitted and 40 discharged, while 25 patients had been admitted to the maternity section and 24 babies born. 64 cases had made 230 visits to the Outpatients’ Department, and there were 19 attendances at the ante-natal clinic.

Hastings had now settled down as a small general and maternity hospital, of about 23 and 7 beds respectively, with ante-natal clinic and outpatients’ department working, and a prospect of increased accommodation being built.


The question had arisen, however, as to the exact applicability of the Kelly Bequest, which would affect building programmes, especially as regards future maintenance of any such additions, and it was decided to approach the Chief Justice, Sir Michael AMyers, for his ruling, following receipt of a legal opinion from Messrs. Logan, Williams and White.

As this Bequest was a very important matter in the post-earthquake development of the Hastings Hospital, we make no apology for giving their opinion in full: –

“It appears to us that the bequest must be considered from two points of view: –

(a)   The bequest itself, and (b) the Government subsidy on the bequest.

(a)   The bequest itself: It is to be noted, first that the Board has an uncontrolled discretion as to the expenditure of the money. This does not mean that the Board cAould depart from the purpose for which the bequest is made and divert the money for other purposes, but so long as the Board keeps within the four corners of the purposes as outlined in the will, then no Court and no Government authority or person could interfere in any way.

Page 121

It is next to be noted that it is clearly not necessary for the Board to expend the whole or any part of the money at once. A reasonable time must be given to the Board to prepare a scheme to comply with the bequest and there is no compulsion on the Board then to expend the whole of the moneys for the purpose of that scheme. The wording of the trust is: – “for or towards the building, rebuilding, enlarging, altering, reinstating, repairing and maintaining the said Hospital or any additions thereto… and in providing equipment, furniture, etc.” The very conjunctions of such words as “building, rebuilding, enlarging, altering, reinstating, repairing and maintaining” clearly indicates a contingent trust, and even, as far as the word “maintaining” is concerned, a perpetual trust. This necessarily implies in the Board a right to invest the whole or such part of the trust moneys as is not to be expended immediately and to collect and capitalise the interest thereon or to expend such increases in one or other of the declared purposes of the trust. You will note that the will is silent as to the investment of trust moneys pending expenditure. In such cases it is customary for the interest to follow the capital.

The next point for consideration is the effect of the words: “And in any other manner for the benefit of the said hospital and the said buildings,” which occur at the end of the wording of the bequest, and we gather that this is the point upon which the Board particularly desires advice. We do not think these words give the Board the right to expend the trust fund in or towards the general maintenance of the hospital. We think that if a Court were asked to construe the will, it would apply the doctrine of “ejusdem generis” and would hold that the words above quoted were intended by the testator to mean in any other manner similar to the works itemised in the earlier part of the clause; i.e., the erection, repair and maintenance of hospital buildings. We think it would be unsafe for your Board to treat the clause as giving you any fuller or wider power.

We think your Board can with safety expend part only of the moneys in rebuilding, repairing and enlarging the hospital at Hastings and in providing equipment and furniture therefor and invest the residue of the trust to provide an income for the maintenance or repairs of hospital buildings and not as a hospital.

We suggest that you should at once apply to the Court for an order directing the manner in which the Board may expend the money. It is clearly arguable that the testator by the use of the words “maintenance” and the general words “in any other manner for the benefit of the hospital intended to provide for Hastings, not only adequate hospital accommodation properly equipped, but also a fund to ensure that the hospital when established would be properly staffed, properly run and patients properly fed and lodged in comfort. We say that it is unsafe for your Board to assume at this stage that such is the testator’s intention and the only person who can give you an authoritative ruling on the point is a Judge of the Supreme Court.

(b)   Government Subsidy on the Bequest – By sub-section 2(a) of the Hospital and Charitable Institutions Act, 1926, as amended by the Finance Act No. 1, 1931, your Board is entitled to a subsidy for £ for £, less ten per cent.

Section 44 (1) provides that the subsidy is to be held on the same trust as the bequest.

Page 122

Section 44 (2) provides that if the Minister is of opinion that the purposes of any bequest are such that it is inadvisable that the subsidy received in respect of that bequest should be expended in the same manner, he may at any time, whether before or after the subsidy has been paid, grant to the Board, by warrant under his hand, a complete or partial exemption from the obligations of this section in respect of that bequest.

Assuming, therefore, that this bequest will realise £35,000, the subsidy received in respect of that bequest should be expended in the same manner, he may at any time, whether before or after the subsidy has been paid, grant to the Board, by warrant under his hand, a complete or partial exemption from the obligations of this section in respect of that bequest.

Assuming, therefore, that this bequest will realise £35,000, the subsidy thereon should realise £31,500.

Moneys bequeathed or otherwise given to a Hospital Board must be expended in accordance with the terms of the bequest, but if the bequest is not for a special purpose then the moneys may be spent for general hospital purposes.

Section 44 (2) is silent as to the purposes for which the moneys are to be used if the Minister grants the exemption referred to and we assume from that omission, that the moneys may be used for general hospital purposes or for any special purpose associated with but outside the scope of the gift.

We suggest, therefore, that when your general rebuilding scheme for Hastings is prepared and you are able to estimate the capital expenditure entailed, you should apply to the Minister for exemption as to the subsidy, at the same time asking for power to invest the subsidy and apply the income therefrom in general maintenance of the Hastings Hospital.

Should the Minister advise you that he has power to do more than grant the exemption then you could make this point one of the questions to be submitted to the Court when applying for an interpretation of your powers under the legacy.”


On June 25th the Mayor of Hastings (Mr. G.F. Roach) sent a telegram to the Minister of Health (Hon. A.J. Stallworthy): –

“I recognise that your decision bearing on the unanimous decision of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board with regard to hospital and maternity accommodation at Hastings is one which involves several issues and that you should have amply reasonable opportunity to consider same.

Nevertheless, the position is such that from all points of view an early decision is desirable and would be appreciated by the whole population of Hastings.

May I respectfully but strongly urge the importance of this aspect. While I recognise the necessity for the provision of hospital accommodation generally, I would further respectfully request that no authority be considered by your Department for the expenditure of a large sum of money to provide such accommodation for this district until after your decision with reference to Hastings, and until, if necessary, we have had another

Page 123

opportunity to discuss the matter with you.”

The following reply was received from the Minister: –

“Your telegram re hospital matters received. Please accept my thanks and assurances that your representations will be given careful consideration. The whole matter is still under earnest consideration.

On June 30th a meeting of Hastings Hospital Sub-Committee set up by the Borough Council was held in Hastings and the Minister telephoned. He said he would either be up in a few days or make a satisfactory announcement.

On the 7th July the Mayor of Hastings sent a further wire to the Hon. the Minister of Health asking if finality had been reached on the question of hospital accommodation for Hastings and received the following reply: –

“In reply to your telegram re hospital accommodation at Hastings I am endeavouring to finalise matters and will communicate with you in a few days.”

It was being strongly felt at this time that not only the Hastings but also the Napier Hospital was being unduly delayed and that the Board was being held up by the Department.

At the July 13th meeting of the Board criticism was voiced of this delay in “providing funds for the erection of permanent hospital accommodation,” and the following resolution was carried: –

“That in view of the fact that the Napier Hospital can only give limited tent accommodation and that the Hastings Memorial Hospital is full, the Board earnestly desires the Minister’s answer to the recent deputation regarding further accommodation at Napier and Hastings, and that a copy of the resolution be sent to the Minister of Health.”

I am moving this motion because I feel that we have been – I don’t like to say it, realising the Government’s position – neglected,” said Mr. S.J. McKee. “I know of two deaths that have occurred in Hastings through there being only improper and inadequate accommodation for them in the hospitals in Hastings and Napier. I don’t think our dear ones should be forced to go on the hills into tents and there end their days.

The Board had been surprised to receive a communication that it must go to the Loans Board for the full amount of money whether it was spent that year, next year, or the following year. Operations on the new Nurses’ Home at Napier had had to be spspended [suspended], as the Minister had not given his final consent. They had now to go to the Loans Board, the amount to be applied for being the £82,500, though some objected to this as too much, on account of the financial stress and the rate burden it would mean after the 5 interest free years were up. It was also said that none of it would be spent in Hastings.

It was decided that the Chairman (Mr. C.O. Morse) go to Wellington and with the assistance of Messrs. B.M. Campbell and W.E. Barnard M.P.s endeavour to expedite the Board’s building schemes at Napier and Hastings and point out to the Minister the urgency of the position in the interests of the sick and needy in the Hawke’s Bay district.

Page 124


At this meeting a further legal opinion on the Kelly Bequest was received through Dr. M.H. Watt, Director-General of Health.

This we shall also quote in full: –

“With reference to your letter of the 22nd ultimo and the representations made by the deputation which waited on the Hon. the Minister recently, I have to state that the Department sought legal advice as to whether the termination of the above mentioned bequest would permit of monies to be used for the general maintenance of the Memorial Hospital, i.e., payment of salaries, purchase of drugs, etc., and other regularly recurring expenses in connection with the hospital or whether the Board must limit the application of the monies to “rebuilding, enlarging, altering, reinstating, repairing and maintaining” the fabric of the hospital and providing and maintaining equipment and furniture.

“The department is advised that the Board cannot apply the monies for the general maintenance of the hospital (in the sense in which general maintenance is used in the preceding paragraph.)

You will observe that in the clause of the will quoted above, the word ‘hospital’ means a ‘building’ then the moneys have to be applied to maintaining the hospital buildings or additions thereto. The expenditure of money on drugs and salaries could not be said to be expenditure on the maintenance of a hospital building.

It may be argued, however, that the words authorising the board to expend the moneys ‘in any other manner for the benefit of the said hospital and the said buildings,’ would authorise the expenditure on drugs, salaries and other generally recurring expenditure. As already indicated, the word ‘hospital’ was used in the clause as meaning ‘hospital building’. The words ‘said building’ in the last quoted citation from the clause must mean the buildings adjacent to the hospital building.’

The general power of the Board to expend moneys for the benefit of the Hospital is a power to expend them for the benefit of the hospital buildings. An expenditure on salaries and drugs, etc. is not, it is thought, an expenditure of this nature.

The clause must, therefore, be given the narrower of the two meanings referred to.”

On August 13th it is mentioned that the Mayor of Hastings (Mr. G.F. Roach) had received a reply from the Minister of Stamp Duties re the Bequest, stating that the final balance of the estate was certified at £37,498, and also: –

“There is no provision in the Death Duties Act, 1921, or its amendments for the exemption from estate duty of any portion of the estate bequeathed to charity. Therefore estate duty at the rate of 12 per cent. on £37,498, amounting to £4499 15s. 2d. was assessed as provided by the said Act. In pursuance of Section 18 the bequest was exempt from succession duty, no succession duty being payable on property succeeded to by a charitable trust in New Zealand.

As the assessment was made strictly in accordance with death duty law, and there is no discretionary power in the Death Duties Act, 1921 for remission of estate duty for such a case, I regret that your application for

Page 125

remission of the duty cannot be granted and that it is not possible to defer consideration of the death duty; interest at the rate of 6 per centum per annum would accrue from the expiration of a period of three months from the date of death on all unpaid duty until date of payment. There is no discretionary power to remit such interest.”

At the August 17 meeting of the Board further information re the bequest was received and it was decided to take steps to obtain immediate possession of the money.

The solicitors’ information was: –

“The aggregate amount advanced on mortgage is £34,435 and as in every case the advance has been made on a valuable property showing a substantial margin, it is not anticipated that any serious loss will be made in the receiving of each loan on the date of maturity. Taking into account the large amount of capital involved, the outstanding interest owing at July 31, 1931, £650 5s. 10d. is not large, none of the borrowers being more than six months in arrears.

If the full amount of the mortgage securities is ultimately received and the other assets realise the values placed against them, there will be available for your Board in pursuance of the provisions of the will, a residue of approximately £32,200, less the dependencies referred to in the statement. Should your Board be successful in obtaining a remission of the death duties (it was not), the value of the bequest will be increased by £4500. Until the result of the Board’s application in this connection has been communicated to us, the executors do not propose to take any steps towards arranging for the payment of the death duties. The ready money immediately available to the executors is £1608 12s. This amount would probably be enough to clear off all claims other than death duties. If the latter are remitted, the executors would be in a position at an early date to hold the residuary estate at the disposal of the Board.

We understand it has been suggested that there is a possibility of proceedings being instituted to upset the will. The only person likely to benefit by such action would be the nearest relative, a nephew, who has informed us that he has no intention whatever of taking any steps in that direction.”


At this August meeting the Board decided that a resolution of previous meeting be sent to three Members of Parliament, Messrs. W.E. Barnard, H.M. Campbell and A.E. Jull, with date, to take up with the Minister, pointing out that no reply had been received and no proper accommodation provided for the sick in Napier and Hastings, though two months ago a resolution had been forwarded to the Minister protesting against the inaction of the Department in hospital matters affecting Napier and Hastings.

They had been very fortunate in that there had been very little sickness so far that year, but would not like to think what would happen if there was an epidemic, it was said at the meeting. The Minister of Education had come and taken the matter of new schools up, and now there were three fine buildings, while the hospital had nothing. They wanted accommodation for the district, the Board was bordering on bankruptcy (owing to non-payment of levies in full) and they were compelled to keep the sick people in tents where they had to put up with bad weather and everything else.

Page 126

It was an absolute disgrace, seven months had gone by and nothing had been done.

On August 27 the news came that a loan of £66,000 for the restoration of the Napier Hospital and Nurses’ Home had been approved by the Local Bodies Loan Board, £15,660 for the Old People’s Home being deferred.

We shall pause here a moment to note two scraps: –

On July 29 (1931) Mr. H.R. French wrote a letter showing, with examples from Southern Hawke’s Bay (Dannevirke and Waipukurau) as compared with Napier, that smaller hospitals cost less per occupied bed than the larger ones, as an argument for increasing the provision at Hastings. It was later pointed out that this difference was largely due to the provision of specialised services in the larger centres.

At the August 17 meeting of the Board massage and electrical departments are noted for the Hastings Hospital.


The Minister of Health (the Hon. A.J. Stallworthy) came up himself on 14th September to meet a hospital deputation in the evening at the Hastings Borough Council Chambers.

Before this meeting took place the Minister made a statement that the Hospital Board had itself to blame for the delay, on account of not reaching finality, and that with reference to its statement that it was “particularly resentful regarding no definite reply re accommodation for Hastings” he had to point out: –

1.   That the Board had by resolution decided to re-erect a base hospital at Napier.

2.   That it had placed no definite proposals before him with regard to a general hospital at Hastings – no plan, no scheme of finance. (It was however, maintained that nothing had been done in that direction because no reply indicating his approval had come from the Minister.)

3.   Nor had it included any provision for Hastings in the loan proposals submitted to the Loans Board.

4.   That upon the Board submitting such definite proposals they would be given every consideration.

5.   Meanwhile long opposition to rebuilding of hospital in Napier was coming from Hastings and a demand was made that the base hospital should be built at Hastings and not at Napier. (The mark of this factor can be seen in many dealings and statements of the time.)

He respectfully submitted that a decision in these matters was primarily one for the Board. Upon this being communicated to him he would be glad to render any further assistance possible. He also said it obviously took time to investigate the position, with earthquake conditions.

It was mentioned at the September 16 meeting of the Board that the Chairman, on going to see the Minister as agreed, had pointed out very emphatically that there should be adequate accommodation at Hastings,

Page 127

but that the Public Health Department had been quite definite not only where the base hospital should be, but also that there should be no accommodation at Hastings.

A H.B. County member said that it had always been his view and that of all the other members of the Board that if they got 100 beds at Napier, the balance of 50 or 60 should go to Hastings.

It was decided to write to the Minister pointing out that no reply had been received relative to accommodation at Hastings and also informing him that remarks which had been made about no replies having been received to the Board’s telegram were due to a misapprehension.

The resolution passed at the May meeting, that adequate accommodation be provided for in Hastings… was re-affirmed.


It was at this same meeting of September 16 that it was reported that the Kelly Bequest was not to be available to the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board for a number of years.

The Board considered the question of handling the administration of the estate itself, handing it over to the Public Trustee, or leaving it to the present trustees, and it was finally decided to appoint a sub-committee to confer with the Board’s solicitors and report to the next meeting of the Board.

It was found that not much could be done in the way of present raising of finance on the estate, on account of the way the monies were tied up.

A letter had been received from the Department of Health suggesting that the bequest be administered by the Public Trustee (which was finally done, no charge being generously made, on account of the bequest being of a public nature) and a further letter from Sainsbury, Logan and Williams, stating that if the death duties were not paid by October 8, penalty would be added, and they therefore requested that a committee be appointed to confer with them. (This was evidently fixed up in due time, for at least we have no record of anything otherwise.)

Meanwhile the Minister of Health had written re provision of general hospital accommodation at Hastings, and financial arrangements therefor as follows: –

“You will remember that on the occasion of the deputation which met me on June 4, when it was suggested by yourself (i.e. the Chairman of the Board, Mr. C.O. Morse) that accommodation for 35 to 50 beds be provided at Hastings, that point was advanced by Mr. McKee that a sum of £35,000 had been left to the Board, and that it was understood the amount would be available almost immediately and was to be expended on the Memorial Hospital. Dr. Wilson, a member of the deputation, also indicated that it had been stated that the money was available for maintenance purposes.

On enquiry, the Department was informed by your Board as recently as July 29 that no authentic information was available re the ultimate value of the Kelly bequest, but that the face value should be £25,000 to £30,000. In a previous communication it was stated that the estate was represented by first mortgage securities.

Page 128

Further, legal opinion has been obtained and was conveyed to your Board to the effect that monies from the bequest would not be available for general maintenance of the hospital, but merely for rebuilding, enlarging, altering, reinstating, repairing and maintaining the fabric of the hospital and providing and maintaining equipment and furniture.

Apart from the utilisation of the Kelly Bequest, it is not clear what method of finance your Board contemplated in providing the proposed hospital accommodation at Hastings. There are furthermore other uncertain factors.

I am not yet satisfied, even with the special assistance of the Kelly Bequest, that your district should have two general hospitals within twelve miles of each other. Your Board will, I trust, understand that before I could approve such provision I should have to be assured that no part of the necessary extra cost involved, as against one general hospital for the district, would fall upon the general body of taxpayers in other districts.

He cited the Hastings Chamber of Commerce’s resolution against the £82,500 loan, and a monster petition in course of circulation against the same and demanding a general public hospital with not less than 100 beds as a nucleus for a main hospital at Hastings.


At the same meeting (September 16, 1931), following upon a suggestion made by the Napier Medical Superintendent, Dr. A.C.B. Biggs, a district nurse was appointed in Hastings for a period of six months to relieve the pressure on the maternity section of the Hastings Memorial Hospital.

Cases were being discharged earlier than usual, on account of shortage of space, and the district maternity nurse was to attend people in their own homes, together with the assistance of some of the trainees, similar to the St. Helens Hospitals.

There was a feeling, however, among the Hastings members of the Board, that the scheme was the thin end of the wedge to make Hastings a purely maternity hospital again, and as the McHardy Home would be used again when the Nurses’ Home had been finished at Napier, it was decided that the appointment be only a temporary one, for the aforesaid six months.


We have kept the proceedings of the deputation (September 15), which actually preceded this meeting, till after, in order that we might have certain factors clear, particularly the manner in which the cumulative effect of the various hitches that had developed with the Kelly Bequest had left the Hastings Hospital schemes without any financial basis for the time being, either for capital or maintenance. We also wished to clear some others out of the way, to link better with later developments.

When the deputation met the Minister, a Hastings Board member (Mr. Cecil Duff), asked the Minister “on what authority the field hospital in Hastings after the earthquake was discontinued.” He wished to know if the authority came from the Board or the Department, as the Minister had stated that the authority had come from the Board, whilst the Board held that the authority had come from the Department.

Page 129

The Minister, in reply, stated that he had never given any authority for the discontinuance, neither had the Department and as far as he was concerned, no cancellation arrangements had been submitted to him.

He had approved a policy to extend the Memorial Hospital to temporarily accommodate 50 beds, and did not know till recently that this policy had not been put into operation. When he discovered this he investigated the matter, and had been informed by his department that the medical opinion of the district was that sufficient accommodation could be provided at the Memorial Hospital to meet present needs, and that there was no occasion to go further with the temporary building proposals.

He assured the Hastings deputation that if the Hospital Board submitted to him a definite proposal for the provision of a general hospital at Hastings he would approve it.

In presenting, with a mention that £21,000 for the £30,000 hospital already in Hastings was contributed by the Hastings people, the Hastings petition, which was said to represent 10,000 people, apart from the base hospital question, which figured largely, it was asked: –

1.   Whether Hastings was to receive a hospital adequate to its means.
2.   Whether Hastings was to be saddled with the heavy cost of such expenditure as was proposed at Napier.

Re this petition, “which asked for a 100 bed hospital as the nucleus of a general hospital,” the Minister said he had no legal right to tell the Board what they would have to do. He could only say he was prepared to advise and help.

The Board had asked for 150 beds for Napier and no provision for Hastings, and the Minister said he intimated to the Board that this would have to be reduced to 100 beds with the idea of the Board considering the claims of Hastings.

The Minister stated that the Board had agreed to the plans being curtailed and he assisted with the facilitation of the Loan. The Loans Board, however, received protests against the granting of the loan, and this meant that while the dispute was on there was no provision for the sick and needy.

If a 50 bed hospital was approved, the Minister said, it should not be taken for granted that it was the nucleus of a rival to the hospital in Napier. The Department was out to help the people to receive their legitimate demands, and if the Board were to submit a proposal for Hastings, it would be approved, providing it was reasonable.

The Mayor of Hastings (Mr. G.F. Roach) remarked that Hastings was nearer a hospital than it had ever been before.

Re the Kelly Bequest, however, the Minister said that it was on the strength of this money being available that the Hastings claims had been pressed. He said he had at once made arrangements to have this claim investigated, but even now there was nothing definite to show the money would be available, for at least four years, and he would have to be satisfied that the money was available before he would sanction its expenditure.

Page 130

It was evident that nothing could be done till a stable financial basis was arranged. The story of the next few years is mainly one of the successive breakdowns of each new financial scheme. The first of these was not long in coming.th


At a meeting on September 21 the Board decided: –

“That the present Memorial Hospital building at Hastings be immediately converted into a general hospital and that the necessary additional nurses’ accommodation, if any, be constructed there and that suitable accommodation for maternity cases be otherwise provided.”

The finance to carry out the work was to be provided out of an old donation of £2800 which had been made to the funds of the Board by Mrs. T.H. Lowry, providing she was willing that the money should be diverted for such a purpose. She duly expressed her willingness, by the October 12 meeting, only stipulating that the sum be paid back to the Board’s funds at the end of two years from the Kelly Bequest.

She also made a condition that the buildings be in wood.

This £2800 was originally donated for a solarium at the Napier Hospital in May 1928. On that proposal being turned down by the Department, in June it had been diverted for a Chronic Ward and tuberculosis accommodation, but this evidently falling through likewise, it had been held over. In April 1931 it had been proposed that it be used for a new X-Ray department at Napier Hospital, but nothing came of it).

In discussing the matter, a Hastings member stated that the Minister had said that the Board had the whole power to deal with its affairs, and when it decided on anything he could only O.K. it. The Minister had blamed the Board for the inactivity in regard to Hastings.

He said he was prepared to give adequate accommodation to Hastings, and had said further that he was quite unaware of the fact that this was not under way. The Board had been wandering about in the dark. The Minister had made it clear that they had a free hand not only as far as accommodation in Napier was concerned, but also in Hastings, and there was now no need for the Board to delay.

The Board, added another member, had at last reached finality. The Minister had agreed to give 100 beds for Napier, and if the Board put up a reasonable plan, he would agree to 50 beds in Hastings.

The speaker suggested that the Board should open up the Memorial Hospital as a general hospital only, which would give at least 45 beds, and lease a nearby house or make provision to build a ten bed maternity hospital on the grounds.

He did not think providing accommodation for nurses would cost a great deal, as at Royston they had built accommodation for 9 nurses for £600.

The Chairman, however, pointed out that the opening of the Memorial Hospital as a general hospital could not take place until the influenza epidemic was over. It would be about three months before they could open it for general purposes.

Page 131

According to the Medical Superintendent, to return to nurses, the hospital at present provided accommodation for 12. It would be necessary to have double that number.


When the Minister of Health met the Deputation on 15th September, he stated that “the provision made at the Memorial Hospital was agreed to after the field hospital was closed, and he was given to understand that this proposal was acceptable to the Board and the people of Hastings. The Minister said he had approved of this proposal (to use the Memorial Hospital), immediately, this being for 50 beds”.

In reply to a question as to who had countermanded the agreement he said that he was “quite surprised to find that this proposal had not been gone on with, but he was informed that the variation had been made by the Board on the expressed opinion of the medical men that the Memorial Hospital could be used without any extension”.

At the Board meeting of September 21 it was discovered that the reason why the proposal had not been gone on with was due to the fact that when Mr. Allen, the Departmental building inspector, came up to look into the position, the Medical Superintendent, who showed him round, had just returned from his leave, and did not know of the projected arrangements in all their bearings.

When he met Mr. Allen in Hastings, he learnt from him what the idea was as far as the Memorial Hospital was concerned. Dr. Shore had suggested that 10 beds on the east side of the building be used for clean medical cases, but the speaker pointed out that if they used the operating theatre, unclean medical cases would overlap with the maternity cases. He suggested that if they moved the ante-natal clinic the maternity cases would be completely divided off. They could then accommodate 24 or 25 medical cases on the east side of the building, (instead of 10), which had been done, and he disclaimed all knowledge or intention of cutting down the number of beds that had been planned.

It was therefore decided that “the whole thing had come about with the best of intentions from all parties”.


As we have noted above, Mrs. Lowry’s consent to the use of her donation of £2800, with certain conditions, was received by the October meeting of the Board, and it was decided to make use of the amount for the Hastings Hospital as soon as arrangements could be made.

However, after lengthy negotiations in which finality appeared to have been reached, the Department did not consider the financial arrangements satisfactory and at the December (14) meeting of the Board the letter was received from the Director-General of Health (Mr. M.H. Watt). He stated: –

“On Thursday the 19th inst. (November), Mr. Garnett and Mr. Davis called at this office with revised sketch plans on the lines previously discussed by Mr. Garnett. Dr. Shore and Mr. Allen went into the plans with the

Page 132

architects and made a few suggestions that would make for economy. The Architects were then informed that with the suggestions made the plans would be such as would receive the Department’s approval, and the procedure was for them to bring the plans and estimates to a stage where a copy could be handed to you (i.e. the Chairman of the Board or the Board) to enable you to make formal application for the Loans Board’s and the Minister’s consent.

I desire to stress the importance of satisfactory financial arrangements, both with regard to capital expenditure and future maintenance. As your Board doubtless realises, in view of the provisions being made at Napier, the proposal to provide hospital accommodation at Hastings on the scale contemplated conflicts with the general policy of the Department OF CONCENTRATING general hospital treatment facilities as far as possible. In fact, the establishment and maintenance of two moderately sized general hospitals within 14 miles of each other by excellent road would be warranted only in exceptional circumstances.

The chief condition to be satisfied, however, and the one to which I trust your board will give particular consideration, is that no materially additional cost to the Consolidated Fund and the general taxpayer is involved.

In forwarding application for the Hon. Minister’s consent, therefore, please submit detailed estimates of the capital cost involved (including furnishing) and the method by which it is proposed to finance same.

I will also require to be furnished with estimates of maintenance costs and definite particulars of permanent revenue which will be available to insure that the excess cost of maintaining two institutions as compared with one of similar accommodation will not fall on the public funds.”

This was felt to be rather an unfair surprise on the part of the Director-General. “When I was at Wellington, I asked him very directly if he had any objection to raise and he said “No.” The Minister also said that he was prepared to O.K. what had been done,” said a Hastings member, Mr. S.J. McKee. “After all this time, and the work and trouble we have been to, it is unfair to be now raising these points.”

The other Hastings member, Mr. C. Duff, said hopefully that he thought the different points were raised for purely record purposes.

(These two members had been very active in these protracted negotiations, and at a meeting of the Hastings Chamber of Commerce of September 21, 1931, we find a resolution of appreciation being passed on their behalf, with the remark that no one could have been more determined or conscientious in the hospital matter than they had been.)

To return to our Departmental difficulty.

The chief bugbear was, of course, maintenance. Against a suggestion that there might be money they could use from the Kelly Bequest, it was pointed out that it had been ruled that the money could not be used this way. It was decided not to take that ruling as definite, and a reply to the Department was left in the hands of the Hastings Committee of the Board.

The reply took the form of a deputation.

Page 133


On Thursday, February 11, 1932, this deputation went to Wellington to interview the Minister for Public Health re extensions to the Hastings Memorial Hospital. The deputation, consisting of Dr. H.N. Wilson and Messrs. H.V. Hoadley, S.J. McKee and C. Duff was introduced by Mr. H.M. Campbell, MP. The Director-General, Dr. Watt, was in attendance.

The Minister was reminded of his promise to carry out the undertakings of his predecessor and it was mentioned that the members of the deputation felt that by coming to him direct certain difficulties could be removed. The need for extensions was urgent.

… “The deputation then briefly set out in their sequence the chief events affecting the question from February 3, 1931 down to date. They said that Hastings found itself one year after the earthquake with practically nothing done in the way of providing additional hospital accommodation there and referred to the unnecessary delays over small details which were irksome and irritating both to the public and to their representatives.

It was pointed out that although the Department had at first refused to allow the Memorial Hospital to be used partly for maternity and partly for general cases, that objection had now been removed and at the present time the Memorial Hospital was accommodating 10 maternity and 22 general cases and all that was now asked for was permission to make additions to the present Memorial buildings for a little over 20 cases, giving altogether about 45 general cases together with the necessary extra nurses’ accommodation at a total estimated expenditure of about £9000.

The Deputation mentioned that recently a letter had been received from the Department showing that the Department’s estimate for the work was about £12,000 and asking how it was proposed to find the money, also pointing out that there would be a considerable extra cost for furnishing and maintenance and asking how that was to be provided.” A committee of the Board had dealt with the questions raised as follows: –

“(a)   Re Capital Cost: the architects’ estimate for the work was just over £9000 (this would be some firm of private, probably local architects, seeing that in September, on account of some remarks that had been made about the Health Department, the latter had advised it was too busy to make plans and recommended private architects for both Napier and Hastings work, which the Minister said would give an opportunity to the Board of demonstrating that the work could be done more cheaply, as had been freely asserted. It was decided that this be done.) Towards that the Board had available: –

“Advance from Public Trustee on account of Kelly Bequest   £5000
Mrs. Lowry’s gift with interest, say   £3000
Misses McHardy’s gift (i.e. including subsidy)   £1000

The Board, following the suggestion of the former Minister was prepared to ask the Loans Board for permission to make up any deficiency from the loans of £66,500 granted for rebuilding the Napier Hospital.

The Minister pointed out that there would be the cost of installing a heating system and asked if that cost was included in the estimate. He was

Page 134

told it was not certain, but thought not, but that in any event there was no heating system at present and whether extensions were made or not a heating system would have to be installed soon.

(b)   Re Furnishings : The committee was of opinion that there would be no further appreciable cost of furnishing, as it was not proposed to provide specialised departments.

(c)   Re Maintenance : The committee felt the extra cost would be slight and proposed that such additional cost (if any) should be paid out of interest from the Kelly Bequest and if necessary an application to the Court for interpretation of the will should be made.

It was pointed out that by having the only hospital for the district at Napier the Hastings people were being put to the additional cost of travel to and from Napier visiting relatives in hospital there and for outpatient treatment, etc. It was estimated that the amount spent in that way was anything from £600 to £2000 per year and should be set off against the Department’s estimate of £1000 to £1500 estra [extra] cost for maintaining two hospitals.

In conclusion it was pointed out that Hastings was not asking for a new hospital, but merely for necessary extensions to the existing one. That if the extensions were not permitted the present buildings would either have to be closed and that was unthinkable, or the old state of things reverted to (of) using part of the Memorial building as a maternity hospital and leaving the other part empty which was considered to be very uneconomical…

The deputation said the people of Hastings were tired and irritated at the frequent delays, and wanted to know definitely from the Minister whether it was possible to get what it was asking for or not.

The Minister in reply said he knew the whole history of the case and had listened carefully to what the members of the committee had to say. He said the Department had not been causing any unnecessary delays and had been concerned only to see that the taxpayer of the country was not put to any additional expense – that the Department’s policy was not to multiply the hospitals. (A key point here was the availability of the Kelly Bequest for ordinary maintenance.)

The Minister said there were special circumstances affecting Hastings, and that besides having a large population it already had a hospital building and had through the Kelly Bequest a reasonable prospect of being able to pay for what was asked for without any additional expense to the taxpayers…

There were really two questions to be considered, viz : –

1.   How was the capital cost to be provided, and
2.   How was the additional maintenance to be met.

With regard to the capital cost that matter seemed to be satisfactorily arranged, but he understood from the deputation that permission would have to be obtained from the Loans Board to use Mrs. Lowry’s and Misses McHardy’s money and also to use such part of the Napier loan as might be required. He anticipated no difficulty in the matter at all and promised his assistance in getting the necessary consent of the Loans Board.

Page 135

With regard to the extra maintenance cost he said that should come out of the Kelly Bequest. He said he did not think the whole of the maintenance of the Memorial Hospital should be a charge on the Kelly Bequest, but only such extra maintenance as was incurred through having two hospitals instead of one.

He said he understood there was some doubt as to whether the interest could be used for such a purpose but if there was any doubt an application would be immediately made to the Court for an interpretation of the will and he promised that the Department and he would both do all they could to assist.

At the request of Mr. Campbell and on Dr. Watt’s assurance that the plans met with the Department’s approval, he said the Board could call for tenders right away provided it safeguarded the Department against any claim by the successful tenderer if for any reason the building was not proceeded with and he thought that could be safely done, as he saw no reason why the matter should not be gone on with.

The Hastings sub-committee of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board then met and the following letter was sent to the Department in reply to its enquiry re further maintenance: –

The Committee went fully and carefully into the matter and although it is not possible accurately to say just what the extra cost to the ratepayers will be, it is convinced that the extra cost will be very small, and not at all out of proportion to the extra convenience and service to the people at the southern end of the district.

It is pointed out, for example, that for the past three years, the Memorial building has been functioning as a maternity hospital which involved keeping a domestic staff and usual equipment. The Board cannot see the possibility of closing the hospital, and it is felt that by enlarging the hospital to carry up to 45 beds for general purposes, the average cost of running the institution will be greatly lessened. The hospital accommodation at Napier has been reduced by the number of beds at Hastings, so there will be no extra accommodation for the district.

The number of medical and nursing staff will not be increased and the only extra cost will probably be in the domestic staff at Hastings, and this will not be much when it is remembered that the maternity home will have to be catered for in any event, and the new additions provide for one central dining room.

Against such extra cost as there might be should be set off the saving of travelling expenses to the people in the southern end of the district in visiting patients in Hastings instead of having to go to Napier.

To return to the Minister’s approval of action in calling tenders being taken right away.

Tenders for the extension work at the Memorial Hospital were therefore called immediately after the February 15 meeting of the Board, with conditions safeguarding the Board in the event of any delays in proceeding with the work, while authority was given to the Hastings Committee of the Board with the Chairman and Secretary to deal with the tenders.

It was also decided at the above meeting: –

“That the Loans Board be immediately written to asking permission to use in the meantime in the proposed extensions of the Hastings Memorial Hospital and Nurses’ Home: –

Page 136

(a)   Mrs. Lowry’s gift of £2800 with accrued interest
(b)   Misses McHardy’s gift of £1000
(c)   Any shortage that may be required to be taken from the loan of £66,500 for Napier Hospital.

All to be refunded from the Kelly Bequest when available; and that a copy of such application be sent to the Minister of Public Health to whom a letter of thanks was sent for his sympathetic reception of the Deputation.”

Mr. C. Duff said very feelingly: – “There has been delay for month after month and members have been nonplussed as to why we could not get ahead with the Hastings Hospital. It has been one difficulty after another and in desperation we went to Wellington. We would just get over one hurdle and then another would hop up in front of us. Both the Minister and the Director-General listened to us most carefully and members will be pleased to know that the Minister is out to help us to get over our difficulties. Both the Minister and Dr. Watt agreed that the position in Hastings was quite different to that in any other part of the Dominion. In Hastings we have a fine hospital building and a handsome bequest, and in order to avoid economic loss our building has got to be utilised. The Minister now wants us to go ahead and finalise matters.’

Which is a brave note to end this section.


Meanwhile, accommodation problems were becoming more and more pressing.

A letter was received at this February 15 meeting from a Hastings doctor (Dr. E.Y. Comrie) re lack of accommodation for in-patients at Napier and Hastings. The position was alarming, with winter coming on. The Board recorded its appreciation, stating “if the other medical men of the district had done the same it might have stirred up the Department.”

Re this matter of accommodation, we may note that the Board at its meeting of March 14 (1932) passed a resolution of thanks to Mr. McKee “for his efforts in securing satisfactory accommodation for a number of nurses on the staff of the Memorial Hospital, Hastings.” A marquee then in use for the purpose was to be dismantled and returned to the Minitary [Military] Headquarters at Wellington. (A house was apparently rented).

Notice of motion was given at this meeting re naming the two wards to be built at Hastings the Henrietta Kelly and Williams Wards, in hopeful anticipation.


However, there was a concealed snag. We have noted that the Hastings sub-committee of the Board drew up a reply to the Department re maintenance. This reply by the sub-committee can be seen from the rendering given above. The Director-General of Health (Dr. M.H. Watt) thereupon advised that “in connection with the proposed capital expenditure for 1932-33, the Board had not submitted concrete proposals with regard to the future maintenance of the Hastings Hospital additions.

The Director’s letter went on: –

Page 137

“It has been stated that the amount derived from the Kelly Bequest will provide a sufficient fund to cover the additional annual cost involved in providing two general hospitals, one at Napier and one at Hastings, instead of concentrating general hospital accommodation at Napier. The department’s opinion is that not less than £1000 per annum is required to be provided, independent of local rates and taxation, in order to cover the excess cost. Would you kindly therefore endeavour to ascertain the amount estimated to be realised from the Kelly bequest, and when it is expected the proceeds will be paid over to the Board.

I wish to make it quite clear that so far as I am concerned, I will not recommend approval of the proposed Hastings Hospital additions or have any expenditure directed to providing a permanent general hospital at Hastings unless and until it is shown that no additional cost to local ratepayers or the Consolidated Fund is involved in the proposal as compared with the general hospital arrangements under which general hospital accommodation for the district was provided wholly at Napier.”

Mr. C. Duff commented: –

“It is a good thing we have a sense of humour. For months we have been battling against odds, and each time we just get round a corner some other obstacle turns up. Unless we were stout-hearted we would have given up the race long ago.”

As the application by the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board for a loan for the work was before the Government Loans Board, the Board at its April 11 meeting decided not to take any action in the meantime.

Part of the letter had already been referred to the Hastings sub-committee, with power to act, and the matter was left in its hands to watch further events.


The naming of the two new wards Henrietta Kelly and Williams was duly decided, subject to the wishes of the Williams family, which had subscribed £5000 to the Memorial Hospital when it was built, being the largest subscriber. We have already noted the Kelly Bequest. One suggestion made was the use of the wording J.N. Williams Ward to be more specific, there being thousands of Williams in Hawke’s Bay.

Mrs Tuohy was also mentioned by Mr. McKee, who said that of her own effort she had collected £5000 for various hospitals in Hawke’s Bay. No one in the district had done so much to help Pukeora Sanatorium in comfort(s) and he thought that the Board at least at some suitable opportunity should mark her work by the planting of a tree. (This was agreed to, and later done.)

Review of Financial Year 1931-32.

In reviewing the progress made during the financial year as from April 1931, it was stated that the commencement of the financial year found the Napier Hospital returned from the Napier Park Racecourse and accommodating 40, half in old T.B. shelters and half in marquees, with temporary building for operating etc. The nurses were housed in the old (wooden) part of the

Page 138

McHardy Home quarter of a mile away.

In addition, 25 general beds were provided at the Hastings Memorial Hospital.

It was soon found that further accommodation in Napier must be provided and in rapid succession 4 more marquees were put up, providing a total of approximately 85 beds. It was later found necessary to remove one marquee, reducing the number of beds to 75. All infectious cases continued to be sent to Waipukurau. (i.e. from both Napier and Hastings, being from the whole of the Board’s area.)

We may note, as affecting the situation re the maternity part of the Hastings Hospital, that it was decided at the May 16 meeting that the McHardy Home was to be re-established immediately for maternity work – only for approved cases after the strictest enquiry.

This April review may be considered as a preliminary, we shall pass on to a more comprehensive one made at the meeting on May 16.


We have made the section division here to keep the April and May reviews distinct and separate, as otherwise they would be easily confused.

The estimates for the financial year 1932-33 were mentioned at this latter meeting. They show £5000 for Hastings Hospital building from the Loan Account (the Napier £66,000), as being against the Kelly Bequest, while a further £300 out of the ordinary capital (levy) account was allowed for tar sealing the roads there. The maintenance of the Hastings Hospital was reckoned as £9,850, as against £8,232 the previous year, there being at the time 30 beds (apparently 23 general, 7 maternity), which it was expected to increase to 50 beds, the mean for the ensuing 12 months being probably 40 beds. In order to be on the safe side and allow for a few extra patients, they had estimated on a basis of 45 beds.

Napier, we may note, had 80 beds at the time, and was expected to have 150 by the end of the financial year, an average of 115 being estimated on. It was noted that estimates for receipts from patients’ fees were contingent upon the McHardy Home being completed, and also upon the additions to the Hastings Hospital being completed within a reasonable time.


The Chairman’s (Mr. C.O. Morse) annual report stated: –

“The Hastings Memorial Hospital, which had previously been used solely for maternity work, was opened during the year to accommodate general patients. The buildings at Hastings suffered only minor damage, and were consequently ready for accupation [occupation] in a very short time, and in April last we were able to transfer our general patients from the Hastings end of the district to that institution. This hospital is now being used both as a maternity and a general hospital and has apparently filled a long-felt want of the people of Hastings and surrounding district. During the coming year additions are contemplated

Page 139

at this institution, enlarging the general side so that it will accommodate 40 beds. Plans have been prepared and submitted to the Department of Health.

A temporary loan of £5000 has to be provided towards the cost of the building and it is at present under consideration by the Local Government Loans Board. It is anticipated that their approval will be received at an early date, enabling the work to be proceeded with immediately hereafter.

Early in the year it was found necessary to establish a temporary Hospital in the late Dr. de Lisle’s residence, Tomoana Road, to cope with the influenza epidemic. It added to the expense but served the purpose of checking and resisting the epidemic.

(“Early in the year” means after April 1931) (See p. 126 – around Sept.)

During the year intimation was received by the Board that a magnificent bequest, approximately £35,000, had been left by the late Miss Henrietta Lavinia Kelly for the purpose of erecting any necessary buildings of the Hastings Memorial Hospital. This wonderful benefaction it is, which had enabled the Board to contemplate the additions to the Memorial Hospital which have already been mentioned. That estate is being administered by the Public Trustee on behalf of the Board, and it is expected that the revenue of this bequest will go a long way towards providing the necessary funds for the maintenance of the Memorial Hospital at Hastings when completed.

It was recommended that an endeavour be made to obtain the £600 required for the capital equipment of Napier and Hastings Hospitals from the funds set aside under the Hawke’s Bay Earthquake Act.


By the meeting of June 13 a definite estimate of the sum involved in creating a general hospital in Hastings, on the maintenance side, had been made. It amounted to £1250 per annum. At the same time, attention was drawn to the fact that substantial savings would be effected as a set-off against this extra expenditure, the amount of this saving being estimated at £1077, and that therefore the actual net estimated cost per annum for these (extra) general beds was only £173.


Dr. T.N. Paget, Inspector of Private Hospitals for the Department, had supported Dr. Watt’s suggestion that prior to re-opening the McHardy Home, district nursing services should be organised and given a fair and full trial.

It was advised that consideration of the re-opening of the McHardy Home was intimately connected with district maternity nursing service in Napier (possibly also in Hastings), to supplement the use of the Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, Hastings. (The Department’s intention is obvious). This hospital since the earthquake has been subject to serious overcrowding.

The proposal now is to re-open the McHardy Home which, if done, would undoubtedly enable the admission to the Soldiers’ Memorial Maternity Hospital, Hastings, to be reduced, but at a cost that is quite unjustifiable in view

Page 140

of the fact that a properly organised district maternity service would give all the essential benefits with a saving of between £1000 and £1500 per annum.

The estimated capital cost of re-establishing the McHardy Home as a maternity hospital was about £250 or £300 without taking into consideration general renovations, furnishing and equipment.

The McHardy Home had cost for the preceeding three years a net maintenance sum of £2024 (1928-9), £2138 (1929-30) and £1936 (10 months 1930-1) respectively.

It was considered that large savings could be made by adopting such a district maternity nursing service, and that there should be no delay as the Hastings Memorial Hospital was being “dangerously overcrowded, a condition that must eventually lead to disaster and is a most unfair strain upon the medical and nursing staff.”

The Board did not feel such a district maternity nursing scheme was very practical, and the Hastings members felt there was an attempt being made to have the Hastings Hospital closed for general purposes and made a purely maternity hospital, and it was decided to make a protest to the Department and endeavour to secure a visit from the Minister.


The question of re-opening the McHardy Maternity Home was then the subject of close consideration and conferences with the Director-General of Health and Dr. T.L. Paget, inspector of private and maternity hospitals, for a somewhat lengthy period.

Meanwhile the new Nurses’ Home at Napier had been opened and occupied in May (1932), leaving the McHardy Home free for maternity purposes whenever it could be arranged.

Eventually it was decided to lease the home as a private maternity home to Miss A.M. Field for a period of one year, with right of renewal, conditional upon Miss Field’s agreeing to take up to eight patients per month whose fees were guaranteed by this board.

Certain reinstatement work had to be carried out to meet the requirements of the Department of Health before the home could be licensed and this work was carried out by the board at a cost of £319.

Thus one obstacle had been removed in the way of making the Hastings Memorial Hospital what the people there desired – a general hospital.


Nevertheless, the Department was opposed to such a principle, and according to the Chairman’s (Mr. C.O. Morse) annual report at the Board meeting of April 24, 1933: –

“Our great problem throughout the year has been the question of alterations and additions to the Hastings Hospital.

Page 141

Negotiations with the Department of Health and Local Bodies Loans Board, involving many deputations to the Minister, numerous conferences in Napier and Hastings, and voluminous correspondence, have so far failed to solve the problem. Many proposals have been put forward, without success, and whichever way we have turned obstacle after obstacle has been encountered.

The one great stumbling block is the fact that the Loans Board declines to sanction our borrowing an advance of £5000 from the Public Trustee on account of our own securities in the Kelly Bequest. The position at this date is that we are now seeking counsel’s opinion as to whether or not it is necessary for us to have the Loans Board’s sanction before obtaining this desired advance of £5000.

I congratulate most heartily our members of the Hastings Committee on the fixity of purpose shown and their tenacity in the face of all the disappointments experienced, and sincerely hope that in the early part of our new financial year we shall see this matter brought to a successful conclusion.

(The Hastings Borough Council, in supporting their re-election on April 14, commended the two Hastings members, Messrs. C. Duff and S.J. McKee “for their exertions to obtain an extension of hospital accommodation in Hastings.”)


It is pleasing to report that the Hastings Hospital has again benefited by legacies, no fewer than three bequests having been made during the year.

The late Mr. A.M. Georgetti bequeathed £500; the late Miss C.T.  Anderson (of Kereru) £200; and the late Miss M.T. Henry bequeathed a house and land in Townsend Street, of a capital value of £670.”

Mr. S.J. McKee said the report showed that the Hastings Hospital had been running full all the time, clearly indicating that the service the Board had advocated was justified. ‘I hope that something shall be done for the benefit of the nurses so that they will not have to experience another winter under existing conditions’ he concluded.

‘I agree that the Board has to provide accommodation for the nurses at Hastings, we can’t go through another winter without doing something,’ said the chairman.

In a discussion which followed, members were strongly of the opinion that every effort should be made to proceed with the proposed additions to the Hastings Hospital as soon as possible.

On the estimates £5000 was therefore set as from against the Kelly Bequest as before for these additions; the actual amount available from Mrs. Lowry’s donation and the Misses McHardy’s were noted as £2880 19s. 9d. and £872 15s. 11d. respectively.

£58 6s. 9d. had been spent so far out of an estimated £300 on Hastings land (apparently roads). The year’s maintenance at Hastings had cost £6367 as against an estimated £7005, for the very good reason that the contemplated extensions had not yet taken place. £6665 was the estimate for the coming financial year.

Page 142


Application had been made to the Nurses’ and Midwives Registration Board to re-establish Napier and Hastings Hospitals as a fully qualified training school.

At its meeting of April 28, the Registration Board decided to approve of Napier being thus re-established, but not of Hastings, which was not to be used “for any part of the training of pupil nurses stationed at the public hospital, Napier”, the Board being prepared to review this decision in 12 months time.

To return: –


Dr. Biggs’ report on the Hastings Hospital for the year 1932-33 – previous year 1931-2 also being given, is as follows:

Cases treated   1931-2   660   1932-3   829
Attendances   2665   2014

This was for the outpatients’ Department. The Inpatients were: –

For the year 1931-2    247 males, 142 females, total 487
For the year 1932-3    233 males, 233 females, total 466

Operations came to 142 major and 232 minor, total 374 for 1931-2 to 130 major and 189 major [minor], total 319, for 1932-3.

The average days’ stay was 15.79 in 1930-1, 17.62 in 1932-3, the collective days’ stay being 7,944.

The daily average had gone up from 21.76 the year before to 23.71.

The massage department showed: –   1931-2   1932-3
Outpatients   108   96
Inpatients   52   12
Number of massage treatments   1735   1158
Number of electrical treatments   1219   576

At the Maternity Hospital, during 1931-2 there were 293 patients during 1932-3 291. The average days’ stay and daily number of patients resident came to 10 and 8.94 for the first year, 11.51 and 9.18 for the second.

The report went on: –

“It will be seen that with only one or two exceptions, the figures for this year show a definite increase on those of the previous year and that, in spite of the fact that the accommodation was practically the same throughout both periods. The greatest increase is shown in the outpatient department, where the figures have risen from 3,705 attendances to 5,911 at Napier and from 2014 to 2665 attendances at Hastings. The average days’ stay has risen from

Page 143

14.6 to 16.4 at Napier and from 15.79 to 17.62 at Hastings, but even so the figures are still very satisfactory. It is interesting to note, however, as conditions improve and things become more settled, how the average stay in hospital tends to be prolonged…

Re Memorial Hospital

Conditions at this hospital remain almost exactly what they were twelve months ago. The institution has continued to serve two purposes, viz, providing accommodation for both general cases and maternity cases. These two groups have continued, as is right and proper, to be completely separated from one another, both as regards the actual accommodation and the staff.

The general side has been continuously busy and full throughout the year. It will be noticed that with accommodation for 25 beds the daily average number of patients has been 23.71, leaving practically no margin at all. The demands on the beds have been great as evidenced by the waiting lists it was impossible to avoid. The statistical report indicates clearly the large amount of work that has been done; this has been excellent throughout, in spite of difficulties and inconveneinces [inconveniences], and the Board is indebted to Sister Sellar for the zeal and ability she has displayed.

During the year a rearrangement with the honorary staff was made, one result of which is shown in the increased number of outpatients treated; it will be still more evident when the service is spread over a whole year. The nursing staff there have not been so fortunate as their sisters in Napier, as they are still living in most inadequate quarters, a condition of things that it is hoped the Board will see their way to remedy in the near future.

On the maternity side the number of cases attended has been practically the same as in the preceeding year. The average days’ stay, and consequently the daily average number of beds occupied, has slightly increased. The work of this department has been maintained at the same high standard as in the past under the supervision of Sister Owen. It has continued to be a maternity training school, with only fair results, however in the examinations.

Whether this is due to the standard in the examination being raised, or due to local causes, such as inadequate facilities for the lectures and for the necessary reading and preparation by the nurses themselves, it is not easy to say.

Probably both have influenced the result, which has not been so satisfactory as in the past.

While maintaining the maternity training school, the rest of the hospital has continued throughout the year as a non-training school, so that the nursing staff has been comprised mostly of trained nurses with a limited supply of hospital aids. Immediately the (financial) year is closed, however, it is anticipated that the hospital will be reinstated as a general training school, and approval of this by the Registration Board is the only thing required to put it into force. The majority of the hospital side will be enrolled as the first trainees of the new establishment.

Page 144


The Chairman’s (Mr. C.O. Morse) annual report on April 16, 1934, once more reported more negotiations than progress.

“Again I must state that our great problem throughout the year has been the question of additions to the Hastings Hospital. Apart from negotiations with the Department of Health, a deputation from the Board was invited to wait upon the Local Government Loans Board to present the case regarding accommodation at this hospital. However, it is to be regretted that our efforts again met with disappointment, but now I have every reason to believe that our latest efforts will, to some degree, bear fruit. Again I must congratulate the efforts of the Hastings (sub-) committee on the fixity of purpose shown, and their untiring efforts to bring to a satisfactory conclusion the ever-burning question of provision of 50 beds.”

Representations had been made to the Minister of Health the previous week, and the Chairman stated that he had every reason to feel that in the near future there would be a happy conclusion to the problems dealt with. (Like statements had often been made in the long history of the Memorial Hospital.)

The funds of the Kelly Bequest being now in credit, it was suggested at the same meeting that the maintenance of the Memorial Hospital, in accordance with the will, would have to be a charge upon the fund.

But it was acknowledged that this might be queried by the Audit Department, which would affect the Memorial Hospital, and the matter was dropped.

Dr. A.D.S. Whyte was noted at this meeting as having been appointed as a part time honorary physician at the Hastings Hospital.


The proposed building additions to the Hastings Hospital, together with equipment, were now estimated at £10,000, the whole of which was covered by donations and bequests, so that the ratepayers would not be called upon to contribute anything.

It was noted that laying down roads and paths at the Napier and Hastings hospitals had been cut to a minimum. Also that the Hastings Hospital had rendered much greater service during the past year. (On March 31 there were 21 patients in the general section.)

The Hastings Hospital patients’ fees amounted to £1716, a £200 increase over the previous year, the Board was estimating for a further £200 increase that year. This it was thought should easily eventuate, seeing that the number of general beds was to be substantially increased during the year.

Expenditure at the Hospital during the financial year included: –

“Provisions – the consumption of milk and cream at this institution has gone up by roughly 10% during the past three months, and therefore a slight increase is estimated for”.

The actual expenditure on provisions was less than estimated, and it was being kept at about the same, with the exception of groceries “as it is

Page 145

expected, and, in fact, hoped that butter would improve in price during the year. As our contract for butter is based on market rates we are allowing for the increase.”

Electricity had cost £223 14s. 10. or 229.2 units (per annum) per each occupied bed. (We may note here that in October, 1931, the Hawke’s Bay Electric Power Board, which had duly taken over from the Borough Council, wished to arrange a bulk supply, saying the Board could be practically assured of a continuity of supply.)

Page 146


The Dream Becomes a Reality

1935 – 1941


The next annual report (Friday, April 12, 1935) had a tale of more than hopes to tell. The Chairman (Mr. C.O. Morse) was able to say: –

“I have to report that all our difficulties in connection with the additions to the Hastings Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital Buildings have been overcome, and the work of enlarging the hospital is proceeding satisfactorily.

At this date the new maternity block and the new nurses’ home have been completed, and the work in connection with the enlargement of the general end is well in hand.

(It was hoped to open the enlarged hospital on Anzac Day, but it was found that all would not be ready, and as the Board was determined that the public should see the Hospital “in a finished state and fully furnished”, ready for use immediately, the opening was postponed for some while.

The end of April return showed 29 patients in the general section.)


The Hastings Hospital had again benefited by private benefaction, this time by public contribution organised by “Uncle Ed” of 2ZB, having had a most up-to-date radio set purchased, of which the installation was just being completed by this April 12 meeting.  £208 had been raised by public contribution and £42 19s. 2d. made available from the original Hastings Memorial Hospital Fund (in trust from the original building fund) to complete the £220 required and also to provide a piano, without which the microphone installation provided would have lost much of its value. There were 80 headphones, of which 77 wer [were] special pillowphones and the last word in receivers, making the most up-to-date radio installation of its kind in New Zealand.


At the same meeting the Board decided to issue a request to the Government to grant £20,000 to complete hospital work at both Napier and Hastings with the object of relieving the burden on the rate-payers, during a discussion re improvements to the Hastings Memorial Hospital.

The improvements included an outpatients’ block and the enlargement of the operating theatre, both essential, and having been agreed to, subject to the necessary financial arrangements being made.

Concerning the proposed grant, it was pointed out that all the Board had had to replace a total loss of £250,000 had been a loan of £68,000 of which £13,000 was still unexpended, and which loan would be a heavy debt on the Board, which prior to the earthquake had been in a most satisfactory financial position

Page 147

and would have wiped out its old debt if the Earthquake had not come. The Board had spent only £50,000 to provide 150 beds and a Nurses’ Home at Napier and a hospital was instanced for comparison which had spent £80,000 on a Nurses’ Home alone.

The Hon. A. Ransome, the Acting Prime Minister, on being interviewed about the matter on the 15th April, was unsympathetic, but said he would place the matter before the proper quarters.

The Hon. J. Kitchener, on a visit a little later – about the end of the second week in May – felt some assistance should be given.

A suggestion was made (May 20), that failing such a grant, finance could easily be arranged by the Minister’s consenting to an overdraft, to be balanced against the Kelly Bequest. It was pointed out that they had already had one experience of that sort of thing, in which they were against the department, and the suggestion was dropped.

It was decided that a deputation go to Wellington re the £20,000 grant.

At the opening of the Hastings additions, (June 25) the Hospital Board met the visiting Minister (Hon. Alex. Young) in conference re this matter, it being pointed out that the Board could not borrow in view of the £66,000 already owing. However, it was finally found necessary to go on the open market and borrow £17,000 at 3½ per cent. repayable in 15 years.

At the end of 1937 it was considered an additional £10,000 was still required.

(In 1939 it was decided that Hawke’s Bay Loans due to ‘Quake be interest free, but that local bodies repay principal.)


Soon after this meeting, early in May (1935), the Hospital Board elections resulted, as we have already noted, in a bloc of members representing Hastings interests securing all the H.B. County seats.

The contests resulted in Messrs. R. Harding, H.V. Hoadley, J.B. Campbell, H.M. Wilson and C. Lassen receiving each over 1600 votes while Messrs. N.P. Ericksen [Eriksen], J. Williamson and C. King, the northern candidates, received each under 1000.

This was the first time for some years there had been a contest. Five candidates representing the southern end were put up and approved by the County Council, while as a result of a meeting in Napier three candidates were put up to represent northern interests.

With 2 actual Hastings men, Messrs. C.J. McKee and C. Duff, making 7, there was a very good majority over the 3 Napier members: – Messrs. C.O. Morse and A.E. Bedford with Dr. A.J. Berry.


On Tuesday, June 25, 1935, as we have noted, the Hastings Hospital additions were officially opened by the Minister of Health, the Hon. A.J. Young.

Page 148

The ceremony was attended by a large number of residents of the district, including a number of people from Napier, and representatives of local bodies in Hawke’s Bay.

As this event marked the realisation, in something like adequate form, of the desire and hope of long years – the provision in Hastings not merely of a maternity, but also of a general hospital, we intend to quote from the report of the opening at some length.

“The function was presided over by Mr. C.O. Morse, Chairman of the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board, who said he considered it a privilege to be present to preside over the ceremony. He extended a hearty welcome to the Minister and went on to congratulate the architect responsible for the designing of the extensions and the builders for carrying out the contract, the workmanship of which was equal to anything he had seen in his 12 years Hospital Board experience.

Mr. Morse also paid tribute to the Hastings and county representatives on the Board. “They put up a wonderful fight and had you not had those particular representatives, it is possible you would never have had the additions to-day… but had it not been for the work of those who went on with the work before the Board members finished it, there would have been nothing to hinge on. I refer to Mr. George Ebbett, Mr. Hart and other gentlemen, who were really the foundation members of the movement…

The Mayor, Mr. G.A. Maddison, also extended cordial greetings to the Minister and thanked him for his co-operation on this important occasion. He pointed out that the present Minister had first opened the hospital on Anzac Day, 1928, and said that Hastings should not be unmindful of those who sponsored and contributed to the establishment of the hospital. In this connection almost £60,000 had been voluntarily contributed towards the hospital, the Mayor making special reference to the donations and bequests of Helen Lowry, Misses McHardy, Miss Kelly and £4000 from an unknown source. He pointed out that it was really this £4000 which made the extensions possible.

He also expressed appreciation of the fight put up by the Hastings Board members; “They fought until the Minister and the Department knew they were in the right and gave in”; and of “Uncle Ed’s (Mr. E.H. Culver) “lone-hand” effort in providing the radio, also Mrs. Tuohy (see below).

Mr. H.M. Campbell, M.P., said he was glad the hospital had almost reached finality, but he understood that there were one or two minor details which needed attention by the Government … The people had provided all the money, with the exception of a small subsidy … and therefore it was up to the Government to provide funds for the necessary finishing work…

He pointed out that one of the conditions under which the anonymous donor had given the £4000 to the hospital was that a Plunket nurse should be at the head of that (i.e. maternity) department and he hoped that this would be done. (It was done in 1936).

Mr. A.E. Jull M.P. and Mr. W.E. Barnard M.P. also spoke, the former saying that personally he was opposed to large hospitals and the latter that he appreciated the strong desire of the people of Hastings to have their own hospital, there being other considerations than £ s. d.

“It is a great occasion for the people of Hastings. We are met ostensibly to give the Minister the privilege of officially opening the hospital, but the occasion is greater than that,” said Mr. C. Duff.

Page 149

“It really marks the turning point for Hastings as far as hospital accommodation is concerned. Up till now, the institution had been used as a maternity hospital, with certain general patients but from today it is officially recognised as a general hospital.”

Mr. Duff traced the early history … pointing out that up till the earthquake, two thirds of the hospital was kept in costly emptiness, and even after the earthquake, the Department refused to use the empty part, their excuse being that it was not possible to have maternity and general cases together…

For the moment our work is finished and we are proud of it,” said Mr. Duff. “Now that we have got the hospital, we can forget all our anxious moments, but in my judgment the completion of the work is a vindication of right over might. The rights of the people must be paramount. Because the people wanted the hospital, and because they needed it, no Minister, no Department, no power on earth could have prevented the people’s rights being realised. That is why it is such a momentous occasion.

Mr. Duff referred to the bequests that had been made, totalling £57,000.

“We are not quite finished but we are not asking for any more beds”, said Mr. Duff. “We do want, however, additional facilities to enable us to enjoy the use of those 50 beds. We want a larger operating theatre, and outpatients’ department and an ante-natal clinic.”

Mr. Duff, in conclusion, paid a tribute to the local doctors (who had worked so well under great difficulties, having to use their own instruments because the Department would not grant £120 to purchase new ones for the hospital.) …

In connection with the matter of the larger theatre and outpatients’ department, the Minister stated it was already being considered and would be dealt with by himself “in such a manner that will enable you to get them at the earliest possible moment compatible with our financial position.” He anticipated no difficulty in getting the ante-natal clinic.

The Minister traced the history … from its inception to the present day and then declared the extensions open, satisfied that they would do good work in curing the sick and healing the injured. Three hearty cheers were given the Minister, and on the latter’s call, three more for the success of the hospital.

Mrs. M. Tuohy was asked to plant a tree in recognition of her services in collecting something like £5000 towards the cost of the Hastings Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. The Minister of Health, Sir Alexander Young, held the tree, and Mrs. Tuohy was presented with the spade autographed by the Minister and other speakers.


As we have noted, the £17,000 loan was not raised till 1937, and there is therefore little to record for 1936, except that Hastings Hospital benefited by another benefaction, this time under rather peculiar circumstances.

Page 150

Mr E.D. Collison, who died in 1916, had left £100 for the Hastings Hospital, if such an institution existed at the time of his death, or for any other charitable work the trustees deemed fit. The trustees had now decided that the moneys should be used for the Hastings Hospital, even though it was not in existence at the time of Mr. Collison’s death.

Extra maternity accommodation had been provided during 1935 and the making of provision for Karitane work, with a Plunket Nurse at the head, was completed during this year of 1936.

We have also to note, as being one of the bloc of southern members elected for the H.B. County, and therefore sympathetic to Hastings, that Mr. C. Lassen had become Chairman of the Hospital Board.


At the end of March, 1937, according to the return, the Hastings Hospital had 49 patients in the general section, 45 being more or less the average during the year.

Outpatients’ enquiry office, charitable aid office and operating block were provided at the Hospital, the whole amount, approximately £13,000 being financed out of the Kelly Bequest.


At the Annual Meeting of April 11, 1938, the Chairman of the Board, Mr. O. [C.] Lassen, said that additional beds were much needed. He went on to deliver a special report giving the reasons for the higher costs per occupied bed at the Memorial Hospital, compared with other hospitals in the same class.

The reasons for this were: –

1.   The inclusion of the cost of maternity beds with general beds.
2.   A much larger proportion of surgical cases treated as such as compared with the Napier base hospital, which is a Class II hospital (Hastings being a Class III)
3.   The rapid growth of the outpatients’ department.

Most of the other Class III hospitals in New Zealand had no maternity beds.

Prior to 1931 the Memorial Hospital was a maternity hospital only and the costs per occupied bed for the two years 1930 and 1931 were £466 and £390 respectively.

It will thus be seen that the average cost per bed for these two years was £428. The present cost, taken in conjunction with general beds, is £218 12s. which represents a saving of £209 8 on the maternity beds. Therefore this will reduce the cost of the general beds to £183, which is in keeping with the Dominion average for hospitals of this class.

The Memorial Hospital, with an average of 51.4 occupied general beds, performed 681 operations, an average of 12.9 operations per bed,” continued

Page 151

Mr. Lassen. “This hospital, being an auxiliary hospital in Class III serving the borough of Hastings and a great portion of the County, caters for a much larger population than any other hospital of the same class, and it therefore shows that there must be a higher percentage of surgical cases per occupied bed, this increasing the cost per bed.

It will be obvious that an institution which provides services capable of dealing with far more patients than can be admitted cannot, on bare figures, be run as cheaply as where these services are being worked to capacity.

The average number of outpatients treated from April 1 to September 30, 1937, was 107.4 per week. From October 1 to December 31, 1937, the number was increased by reason of the appointment of a resident medical officer (Dr. …) and now averages 128.6 per week. As the cost of dispensing, dressings, etc. for outpatients is not separated from in-patients, it will be readily seen how the growth of this department affects the cost per bed in Hastings.

There is another factor, too, which has a bearing on the cost per bed at the Memorial Hospital. As that hospital is used more or less as an emergency hospital the number of days’ stay at the Memorial Hospital is less than at the base hospital at Napier, the figures being: – Memorial Hospital 16.06, Napier Hospital 21.9 … it automatically follows that more patients are being handled in Hastings in proportion to the size of the hospital, which in turn necessitates a greater call on the honorary staff at the Memorial Hospital to make complete investigation wherever possible of every case admitted to their charge, and these clinical investigations cannot be carried out free of cost . . . . .

One of the best ways of further reducing the cost per occupied bed at the Memorial Hospital would be to provide the much-needed accommodation for additional patients, more particularly a ward for children.”

A monthly report made at the same time showed that at the end of March, 1938, there were 52 general and 9 maternity patients at the Hastings Hospital.


In an election manifesto issued in May 1938, it was pointed out that at the Memorial Hospital: –

“A new block containing an operating theatre and an out-patients’ department has been provided.

With the generous assistance of the public, the nurses have been provided with an up-to-date swimming bath.

The following programme was set out for the future: –

A new home for the trained nursing staff.
A children’s ward.
Modern X-ray equipment.
Further recreational facilities for the nursing staff.

The new Board elected was the same as in 1935, except that for Hastings Mr. W.E. Bate replaced Mr. C. Duff (deceased).

Page 152


By the next annual report (April 24, 1939), several of these plans had been realised.

A modern X-ray plant had been installed, considerably increasing the efficiency of the hospital and proving a great convenience to patients resident in that area.

The necessary machines and appliances had been acquired for the massage department, enabling this important branch to reach a high state of efficiency.

At both Napier and Hastings there had been extensive improvements to the grounds including tarseals. A further contract for this work had recently been entered into at Hastings.

During the year the plans had been prepared by the Board’s architects at Hastings for the erection of a new nurses’ block, recreation hall, children’s ward, medical officer’s residence and boiler house.

To carry out the works intended for both Napier and Hastings it was proposed to apply to the Local Government Loans Board for permission to borrow the sum of approximately £87,000.

Maintenance at Hastings was estimated at £24,445, greater than that of Napier in 1924, which was £15,000 odd, though it had risen to £60,000 odd per annum in 1937.


The annual report of April 15, 1940, mentioned this application as being before the Loans Board with hope of sanction in the near future, when the major building programme would be proceeded with, but owing to war conditions – shortage of material, etc. – it was noted that it might be necessary to do only a small portion of extreme urgency at both institutions.

Works in progress at the Memorial Hospital included quarters for the house surgeon, temporary accommodation for nurses and alterations in order to provide a splint room and nurses’ change rooms.

Many items of equipment had been purchased, including an additional X-ray plant and accessories, diathermy, anaesthetic apparatus and violet ray machines.

A very large saving had been made by transferring the whole of the Memorial Hospital laundry work to the hospital laundry at Napier, it being efficiently carried out by a new plant installed for the purpose.

The estimates provided for an average of 70 (both sections) in the Memorial Hospital, an increase of 5 (We note the return gives 65 at March 31. The staff numbered 50.)

Napier, we may note for comparison, was estimating for 205 beds, the same as the previous year, with an increase of staff from 135 to 150.

Page 153


This work closes very fittingly with the Hastings Hospital beginning a big extension plan to provide for future needs and with the final realisation of the long-deferred plan for a £1100 ante-natal clinic. We shall let the report speak for itself.

New buildings to a total value of £35,580 will be constructed at the Hastings Memorial Hospital under tenders accepted, subject to Ministerial approval, by the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board.

Installation estimated to cost £6000 will be carried out by the Board’s staff to make a total new expenditure of about £41,580. These works, which include the nurses’ home, boiler house, children’s wards and installations are the first portion of a comprehensive scheme for additional requirements which can be carried out at a comparatively small cost.

Tenders accepted are as follows: –

Nurses’ Home   £17,593
Children’s Ward   £14,136
Boiler-house   £3851 10s.

The steam and hot water installations, estimated to cost £6000 are to be carried out by the Board’s engineer.

Mr. C. Lassen, Chairman of the Board, has pointed out that the amount of the accepted tenders greatly exceeded the estimates submitted to the Board two years ago. Mr. Lassen said that in subsequent discussions with the Health Department, it was deemed necessary that the Board should plan for future extensions to its hospital. It was essential that such planning should be on comprehensive lines, and the present initial programme, he said, would provide for future extensions, at relatively little cost.

The new nurses’ home, which will provide accommodation for 32 beds, will take the place of the present temporary accommodation of 17 beds, besides providing an additional 15 beds. This new two-storey building will comprise the first wing and essential facilities which will not have to be incorporated in future additions.

It is the intention of the Board to convert portion of the existing temporary accommodation used by the staff of the maternity block into a recreational hall for the nurses.

The new children’s ward will be attached to the hospital by a corridor and will extend beyond the maternity block. The ward will provide for 12 beds, and the plans include provision for a spacious verandah and an annexe. The ward has been planned to provide for extensions at little cost.

A feature in the new scheme is the provision of a new boiler house. In consultation with the Department it was found necessary to establish a new structure well away from the present hospital buildings. It will be connected to the hospital by a concrete tunnel, six feet by four feet six inches, which will take the whole of the main steam and hot water pipes.

When completed the Board will have a steam and heating system that will be capable of considerable extensions and will afford all the facilities required by the institution. A new 35 h.p. boiler is to be installed, which will […]tly in excess of the present boiler provisions.

Page 154

In addition to the work outlined, plans are now being completed with the Department for a new ante-natal clinic estimated to cost £1100. The new clinic will be adjacent to the maternity block, and will release accommodation for 3 beds for maternity purposes which are much needed. At present the ante-natal work is being carried out in the maternity block, and the provision of a special clinic will be of great value.


Work on these plans began in the last week of January, 1941.

When completed they will form the nucleus of a comprehensive scheme for enlarging and improving the facilities at the hospital and so making full provision for the future.


Page 155



In September, 1915, the question of the appointment of a district nurse at Hastings was brought up before the Board by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of that town.

It was not till August, 1916, however, that the Board passed the following motion: –

“That applications be called for a District Nurse, at a salary of about £100, in addition to Board and Residence, travelling expenses and uniform. Details of duties to be left in the hands of the Chairman to arrange.”

At the Hastings Borough Council meeting of 17th December, 1918, praise was given the District Nurses who had operated during the late influenza epidemic.

This, however, was merely a temporary measure for the then emergency.

In June, 1926, the Hospital Board received a request from the Hastings Borough Council for the establishment of a District Nurse in Hastings, and forwarding a personal guarantee by His Worship the Mayor, Mr. G.A. Maddison, for half the expense, which would be found by the Hastings residents, it being felt that the matter was one of urgent necessity.

The request was approved, and details were to be gathered for the next meeting.

At the July meeting information was received from the Hon. Secretary, Hastings District Nursing Association, stating that Miss Maude of Christchurch would place at their service, for a term of three months, a nurse to put the scheme on a sound footing.

The offer was accepted, and it was decided that the Board call for applications for the position of District Nurse at Hastings.

At the September meeting it was decided to call for applications for permanent District Nurse at a salary of £200 per annum, closing on the 17th inst.

The relieving District Nurse had meanwhile been carrying on.

The Secretary was instructed to write to the Hastings District Nursing Association which had been formed in Hastings to put into effect the promise re funds, requesting that all funds be now paid over so that subsidy might be claimed.

Nurse Cassin, the successful applicant, began duties in October, 1926.

It was decided at the October meeting of the Board to purchase a car for her if funds were available, and the offer of the Hastings Association to take charge of Hastings outpatients who had been discharged as inpatients from the Napier Hospital was accepted.

Page 156

Information was received and approved at the December meeting that the car had been duly purchased and a set of rules drawn up for the District Nurse was referred to the Secretary for action.

In March 1927 the request of the Hastings District Nursing Association for a telephone for the nurse was granted – to be at her own residence.

From April 1928 the Nurse’s salary was increased to £225 p.a.

In December 1928 it was decided to call tenders for a new car.

In April 1929 the Board decided to allot £100 towards the expenses of the District Nurse at Hastings.

In June 1929, when objection was made to the establishment of an outpatients’ clinic at the Hastings hospital, as being a maternity hospital, it was suggested that it could be placed where the District Nurse was, at the King’s Theatre.

However, the District Nurse’s Headquarters as noted at the next meeting, were inadequate even for her own purposes.

In March 1930, an agreement by the Board, following an intimation by the Director-General of Health that the Board could supply drugs and dressings free of charge, to charge the District Nursing Association therefor, as a means of making legally available funds from the Board which it could not grant direct, was hailed by members as a first step to the establishment of an outpatient department in Hastings, and that was what they all wished to see.

In April, after some conferences, Dr. Shore stated he was prepared to return to Wellington and recommend to the Department the erection of an outpatients’ department for Hastings, to be built on the hospital site, in which building quarters would be incorporated for the district nurse.

It was decided that a nurse would be provided by the Hospital Board at the outpatients’ clinic, immediately on completion, and the District Nurse’s activities would remain as previously, with the understanding that she would use the outpatients’ department for doing such dressings, etc. as were necessary.

The question of finance was considered, and it was finally left to the District Nursing Association to confer and to undertake the payment of a flat rate per annum towards the District Nurse, after which they would let the Board know the amount decided upon. An offer of £110 p.a. was duly made and accepted.

When the February 1931 earthquake took place, a special committee organised by the Hastings District Nursing Association and presided over by Miss Holland worked unremittingly, visiting the homes in the urban area and looking to the needs of the women and children, bringing them into touch with the District and Plunket Nurses and distributing food and clothing to those in need.

The committee, with its four years of experience in relief work in Hastings did valuable service in investigation work and alleviation of necessitous cases.

Page 157

Nurse Cassin, who was on holiday leave at the time, hurried back to take up her work, and was assisted by the relieving nurse, Nurse Tonkin.

In March the scope of the Association was widened as far as possible to obtain the co-operation of all the women’s organisations in Hastings and to include the country districts.

In May areas were divided with the Red Cross, the District Nursing Relief Committee drawing upon the Napier Red Cross central depot and taking south of the Tutaekuri River.

In June 1931 the Medical Superintendent of the Napier Hospital, Dr. Biggs, suggested an extended District Nursing Scheme. Nurse Cassin’s work was very valuable, but there was far more than she could do by herself. He suggested that it be inaugurated before her pending resignation, to make use of her advice.

Nurse Cassin tendered her resignation at the August 1931 meeting.

In her 5th annual report she stated that since she commenced in August 1926 the work had increased markedly every year. That year, however, there was a smaller daily average, probably due to closing their outpatient department in February, that branch of the work having shown a decrease of 1300 treatments, but visits to homes had increased by 500.

The figures for the year ended July 31, 1931, were: – visits to homes 2237, treatments at outpatients’ department 359, miscellaneous calls 187, patients’ donations £17 8s. 6d. The amount received from patients had shown a decided increase also.

Her departure was very much regretted, and the Board’s appreciation placed on record.

As noted in the main history, in September 1931 a maternity district nurse was appointed for six months to relieve the pressure on the Memorial Hospital.

In the same month the annual meeting of the District Nursing Association was held, and it was stated that the February 3 disaster had frustrated plans for establishment of permanent headquarters for the District Nurse on the Memorial Hospital site.

After the Earthquake, the King’s Theatre, which had been the central depot for the work of the District Nurse for over four years was taken over by the Borough Council for emergency purposes, and it had been necessary for the nurse to work the district from the Emergency Hospital at the Racecourse, and latterly from the Memorial Hospital.

It was decided at this meeting to restore the work to its old compass, the committee restricting its activities to assisting the sick poor and following up with social work the medical work of the Nurse, while a suggestion was left that the various social and welfare organisations of the town band together for co-ordinated work.

In October Miss Margaret I. Cooper was appointed to succeed Miss Cassin at Hastings, the latter’s resignation effective end September.

Page 158

A district nurse was also appointed at Napier, Dr. Biggs at the September meeting of the Association having spoken in favour of two nurses, one permanent in Hastings who could have the help of one or more staff nurses from the hospital when required.

In October it was noted that a car for the Napier nurse was imperative on account of the hills.

By April 1933 the district nursing was costing about £600 p.a.

In May 1934 an increased estimate was made for district nursing, as the Board contemplated appointing assistant District Nurses, presumably one full time at Hastings and one half time at Napier, thus making an addition of £300 a year between the two places.

In April 1938, however, it was suggested that a third nurse be appointed to carry out relieving duties in both the Napier and Hastings districts.

We have not gone into the various financial tangles which arose through the anomalous relationship of the Board and the District Nursing Association. Ways out were finally found and made use of.

Page 159



The first mention that we can find is in February 1928, when the Board decided to urge the Health Department to replace Nurse Cartwright, late District Nurse for Maoris in the Hastings district. Midwifery and hospital recommendations were desired.

The matter was one between the Health Department and a Maori Council, so far as finance was concerned. At its meeting of July 1928 the Board informed the Tamatea Maori Council that they required a monthly report of the District Nurse’s activities, also telephone number and particulars how to find her at any time.

In August 1928 it was decided by the Board to recommend to the Health Department that the District Nurse for Maoris should operate only in the area comprising the Hawke’s Bay Hospital District – sufficiently large.

Mrs. Oliphant’s district – that being the nurse’s name as noted at the beginning of 1931, extended over a radius of over 40 miles, extending from Te Hauke to Te Horoto
[Te Haroto].

Funds were running low at the time, and the Maoris were holding entertainments to help to keep the scheme going. This was just before the earthquake, after which we seem to lose sight of this matter.

Page 160



When the hospital deputation met the Board in December 1910, it was advised that it would be better to have a well-equipped ambulance station at Hastings.

In July 1913 there is mention of a Napier Motor Ambulance, to cost £700.  There were so many cars that it was not thought necessary, but information was to be obtained.

In November 1913 the Hastings Hospital Committee of the time decided to ask the Board to supply a return of the number… of cases that went into Napier Hospital from Hastings during the past 12 months and a return of payments made by the Board for motor-cars used as ambulances from Hastings.

In December 1913 the Hastings doctors in their report to the Hospital Committee said that for dealing with certain cases they considered that an up-to-date commodious motor ambulance was an absolute necessity.

In March 1914 we have a passing mention of a collection for an ambulance.

In September 1925 the Hospital Board decided that a new ambulance to be ready next week be employed at Napier and that the present “Hudson” ambulance there be stationed at Hastings on account of the springing of the two vehicles. We have a strong impression that Hastings had an ambulance some time before that, but cannot find any evidence on record.

In August 1928 arrangements were made for the Hastings ambulance to carry infectious cases, providing the driver, Mr. Graham, had it completely fumigated etc. each time, and recorded all such cases.

In February 1930 a proposal for a free ambulance came up and the Chairman of the Hospital Board was empowered to call public meetings in Napier and Hastings, of citizens and local body representatives, as the ambulance costs were heavy on the ratepayers. Some considered that this would impose an extra burden upon them, and it was pointed out that finance would be assured by donations from the people, local authorities and manufacturing concerns, and that it would be of great assistance to the country people.

We have noted that just before the earthquake urgent and accident cases in Hastings were being dealt with by ambulance and by arrangement with Royston Hospital.

Page 161



The importance of this is due to the arrangement made with the Board re the Hastings cases.

The following press letter, written by Dr. H.M. Wilson, on February 7, 1931, gives the history of Royston.

“Some 10 years ago (1921?) the late Dr. Felkin and the writer interested Mr. H.M. Campbell in the necessity of the Hastings district possessing a suitable private hospital which would be of a permanent nature. The result was that Mr. H.M. Campbell, Miss Elsie Williams, Mrs. Frank Nelson, Miss Lydia Williams, the late Mrs. T.J.C. Warren and the late Mr. A. McLean all gave £300, and formed the Board of Royston Trustees. Later Mr. Frank Armstrong and Sir Douglas McLean gave donations of £250 each. Royston was purchased and refurnished a private hospital. This exhausted all the funds. It was hoped, as in other parts of the world, some patients using it, and able to do so, would contribute to the betterment of it. Some years ago Mr. Douglas McLean had decided to do something in a big way for Royston when his unfortunate death occurred.

None of the contributors have received a penny piece out of the hospital, and they now find themselves faced with a definite loss on the whole building, but they are bearing the loss, and the whole of the money now being subscribed is to be devoted to the purposes of the hospital.

When the hospital was started it was decided by the contributors that they did not desire the responsibility of running it and so leased it to two suitable sisters, with the proviso that as long as they (the sisters) gave service to the public, they were entitled to the profits if any. The rent has barely kept the place in order and paid interest on the mortgage. Two factors stand out. Eight donors gave the district a suitable, permanent hospital, the sisters that they appointed from time to time carried out their duties of giving service, February 3 proved that. (We have seen in the general account how Royston organised the Emergency Hospital). The hospital at all times has been open to medical men and their patients. Is Royston to be preserved?”

It was, finally, partly by public subscriptions – £1233 18s. 6d. by May 23, 1931, and partly by the Hastings doctors forming a private company to re-establish the hospital, which was leased to Sister Williams and reopened on Monday, 31st July, 1931 and is now at the corner of Knight Street and Southland Road.

Original digital file


Non-commercial use

Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY-NC 3.0 NZ)

This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY-NC 3.0 NZ).


Commercial Use

Please contact us for information about using this material commercially.

Can you help?

The Hawke's Bay Knowledge Bank relies on donations to make this material available. Please consider making a donation towards preserving our local history.

Visit our donations page for more information.


Surnames in this history –
Adams, Aldridge, Allan, Allen, Anderson, Andrew, Ayling, Baird, Barnard, Bayliss, Beamish, Bedford, Bennett, Blake, Braithwaite, Brocklehurst, Bunn, Calnet, Cameron, Campbell, Cartwright, Cassin, Cavell, Chambers, Chaplin, Clarkson, Climie, Colebourne, Collison, Cook, Cooper, Cranby, Cronin, Crosse, Culver, Davis, de Denne, Dennett, Donnelly, Donovan, Douglas, Duff, Dunkley, Eagleton, Ebbett, Edridge, Ellingham, Ellis, Ellison, Eriksen, Evans, Fannin, Field, Fielder, Foster, Fowler, Fraser, French, Gardiner, Garnett, Gascoyne, George, Georgetti, Gooseman, Graham, Gray, Griffith, Hamilton, Harding, Harman, Harris, Hartshorn, Hassall, Henry, Hill, Hoadley, Holderness, Holland, Horton, Hunter, Hyland, Johnson, Joll, Jull, Kelly, Keogh, King, Kirby, Knight, Lanauze, Large, Lassen, Lewis, Liddell, Logan, Lovell-Smith, Lowry, Macassey, Maddison, Mahony, Mair, Martell, Mason, Massey, Maude, McBean, McGaffin, McGrath, McHardy, McIlvride, McKay, McKee, McKibbin, McLean, McLeod, Miller, Moeller, Morse, Mossman, Murray, Myers, Nairn, Nelson, Newbigin, Nihil, O’Callaghan, O’Connell, O’Leary, Oliphant, O’Neill, O’Reilly, Ormond, Owen, Paget, Parr, Peck, Pegler, Perrin, Phillips, Pinckney, Pope, Pratt, Priest, Puke Puke, Rae, Rainbow, Ramsay, Ransome, Reed, Reston, Richmond, Roach, Rush, Russell, Sainsbury, Salmon, Scheele, Scott, Seddon, Simson, Sinclair, Smith, Spence, Stallworthy, Stevenson, Styles, Tanner, Taylor, Te Ua, Thompson, Tipping, Tombs, Tomoana, Tuohy, Tupaea, Valintine, Van Staveren, Wade, Walker, Warren, Watson, White, Whitlock, Williams, Williamson, Young

Doctors – Barcroft, Bathgate, Berry, Biggs, Boxer, Cashmore, Comrie, de Lisle, Felkin, Frengley, Gilray, Kitchen, Mayo, McEachern, McDonnell, McKibbin, Moller, Purves, Reeve, Shore, Storey, Tosswill, Waterworth, Watt, White, Whyte, Williams, Wilson, Wright

Business / Organisation

Hawke's Bay Fallen Soldiers' Memorial Hospital

Format of the original

Typed document

Date published


Creator / Author

  • A M Isdale

Accession number


Do you know something about this record?

Please note we cannot verify the accuracy of any information posted by the community.

Supporters and sponsors

We sincerely thank the following businesses and organisations for their support.