Newspaper Article – 250 nurses will recall memories

250 nurses will recall memories

Memories of nursing days at Hastings Memorial Hospital dating back three decades will be recalled this weekend when 250 nurses who trained at the hospital gather for their third reunion.

But this re-union will mark the end of an era for the many hundreds of women who entered the Hastings School of Nursing as nervous schoolgirls and emerged as registered nurses three years later.

Next year the Hastings and Napier Schools of Nursing will amalgamate to become the Hawke’s Bay School of Nursing.

Because this is the last year that there will be graduates from the Hastings School of Nursing, it was decided to hold a reunion this year, only five years after the last one.

The matron of Hastings Memorial Hospital since 1956, Miss E. M. Hall, says that although from next year  Hastings will no longer have its own graduates, this will probably not mean the end of Hastings nurses’ reunions.

Miss Hall said that when the Hawke’s Bay School of Nursing is set up that there will be interchange between the two hospitals.

“Probably some of the older nurses who trained here will feel a little sad that the Hastings school is amalgamating with Napier, but it won’t make very much difference,” Miss Hall said.

Four of the original graduating class of 1942 will attend the reunion at the weekend.  They are Misses E. Leipst and N. Couch and Mesdames J. O’Dea and M. Watkinson.

Although Hastings Memorial Hospital was officially opened on Anzac Day in 1928, it was not until 1939 that a school of nursing was set up.

The first nurses to pass through the school must look back in amazement at what their £33 annual salary had to buy.

They had to provide their own books, shoes and stockings as well as pay a £6 7s compulsory superannuation.

Lectures were given in the nurses’ own time.


During the terms of the hospital’s three matrons, Miss I. E. Sellar  1931-34, Miss I Russell, 1934-56 and Miss Hall, from 1956, buildings, equipment, nursing training and the field of medicine over-all has continually changed.

Miss Hall says in the time she has been at Hastings Memorial, one of the biggest changed in nursing had been the introduction of sulphonimides and antibiotics.

“There is an ever-expanding variety of drugs available,” Miss Hall said.

Another thing that has changed in the routine of the nurse’s day is the use of disposables.

“Patients have paper serviettes now and nurses wear paper masks and paper caps,” Miss Hall said.

Nurses of yesteryear were for ever faced with equipment to sterilise and bandages to pack.

Now the central sterile supply department of the hospital takes care of the sterilising and dressing and bandages are all pre-packed.


Miss Hall says that nursing education has changed too. Two years ago there were major changes in the curriculum.

Nurses now needed a better education than before.

“The role of the nurse has changed to cater for the improvements made in medicine generally.  “The basic requirements of a nurse are still the same. Nurses are still there to care for the patient and they have the right motives and feeling for what they are doing,” Miss Hall said.

No longer is the vocation of nursing restricted to women at Hastings Memorial Hospital.  Three male nurses have been trained at Hastings.

So, if there is a reunion of Hastings nurses in another five years, there could well be a number of male nurses at what was previously an all-female gathering.

The celebrations this year begin tonight with a cocktail party at Harding Hall at 8pm.

At 9.30am tomorrow the MP for Hastings, Mr Duncan MacIntyre will officially open the reunion at the Heretaunga Intermediate School Hall.  The mayors and mayoresses of Hastings and Havelock North and Mr R. A. Nimon, for the Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board, will be present.

A roll-call, morning tea and group photographs will follow the opening and in the afternoon there will be a tour of the hospital and nurses home.

Cocktails will precede a reunion dinner tomorrow night and on Sunday a combined church service will be held at the hospital chapel. A collection taken up at the service will benefit the neurological appeal.

The sister-in-charge of maternity from 1928-49, Miss I Owen, and Miss Hall will cut the reunion cake.  A Hastings-trained nurse, Miss Beryl Scrimgeour, who is on leave from a missionary nursing post in Zambia, will be among the 250 at the reunion and a former assistant matron, Mrs M. Bassett, Wanganui, will also attend.

Original digital file




Format of the original

Newspaper article


  • Elsie Leipst
  • Miss E M Hall
  • Nancy Couch
  • Mrs J O'Dea
  • Margaret Watkinson
  • Miss I E Sellar
  • Miss Ida Russell
  • Duncan MacIntyre
  • R A Nimon
  • Miss I Owen
  • Miss Beryl Scrimgeour
  • Mrs M Bassett

Additional information

Possibly 1971

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