Reunion 1966 Magazine

Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital Hastings


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October 8th, 1966 – Harding Hall –

9.30a.m. Official Welcome.
Roll Call.
Group Photographs.
Tour of Nurses’ Homes.
12.30 p.m. LUNCH.
1.30 p.m. Tour of Hospital – Displays of Latest Equipment.
3.30 p.m. AFTERNOON TEA.

Assembly Hall, Heretaunga Street, Hastings –
6.00 p.m. Get Together.

October 9th  – Hospital  Chapel –

9.30a.m. Combined Church Service.


Chairman: Marion Wellwood (nee Pole).
Secretary: Valerie Smith (nee Doig).
Treasurer: Patricia Davis (nee Tabley).
Committee: Miss Eva Hall, Sister Margaret Palmer, Sister Elaine Sheppard, Colleen Treacher (nee McKee) Eileen Leicester (nee Perry) Zelda Houston (nee Spence).

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Forewords . . .

I am pleased to introduce to you, the Brochure which has been compiled for the Second Hospital Reunion. I am sure that you will all find this Brochure, not only interesting and informative, but it will bring back many memories of your nursing days at Memorial.

The Hospital is developing rapidly. This is due to many factors, one of which is that science, medicine, and nursing, are all making great advances. For those of you who have been away from nursing for some time, we hope to be able to show you some of these changes. 

I would like to thank everyone, who has in any way been connected with the planning and organisation of this Reunion. A great deal of work has gone into this weekend, over a period of some months.

Thank you all for coming to help make this a happy and memorable occasion. I am sure that you will all enjoy your association  together in the renewing of friendships and associations.


Photo caption –

Miss E.M. Hall  

On this happy occasion when we are gathered together for this, our Hospital Reunion, it gives me much pleasure to welcome you all here.

We all have many personal memories of the happy days gone by and we hope that this Reunion will enable you to renew old friendships and make new ones.

The Reunion Committee have had much pleasure arranging this occasion and we hope you will all enjoy your stay with us in Hastings.

Marion Wellwood (nee Pole)
Reunion Committee.

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Nursing News . . .

Assistant Matron, Whakatane.

Now Mrs. Dunbar – lives  and carries on with her optical work at Woking, England.

Was Matron at Tauranga, now married and lives in Wellington.

Now doing Plastic Surgery course in Melbourne. Worked for a time with Dr. Pickerill at Lower Hutt.

Matron at Wairoa.

Absent from NZ. for thirteen years, nursing in England.

Toured the World and now lives in Hastings.

One of the Assistant Matrons at University College Hospital, London.

Rhodesian Missionary Nursing Sister  – has just returned to Africa after six month’s leave.

Married and living in England.

Matron at Greymouth.

Married and living in England.

Living in New Guinea.

Travelling overseas.

Matron Maternity Hospital, Mangakino.

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KOREA – ” The Land of the Morning Calm” – Somewhat a misnomer, for over the centuries this small land has been invaded and dominated by other nations – a  country that has known Wars, famines and disease and with little opportunity to rise above it all.

The Korean War 1945-50, which liberated Korea from the Japanese was economic as well as political. The refugees fled from the Communist terror, with the result a tremendous influx to the main centres in the South: Now the land is divided at the 38th parallel, the North being under the domination of the  Communists, while the South maintains the republic of Korea. Along with the refugees there was also an additional problem to the South, for during 1945-46 over one million Koreans returned from Japan and China and housing and food was not available. It was then evident that outside help was necessary; The United States Government assisted and other voluntary organisations entered the Country and brought medical assistance.

The republic of Korea now has a population of over 25 million people and of these 70% are infected with Tuberculosis, with an annual outbreak of 120,000 new cases. It is estimated that one person dies every 12 minutes of the day from this disease. Overcrowding, lack of sanitation and poor nutritional standards all predispose to disease and leprosy, and vitamin and protein deficiency diseases are also markedly present in a great proportion of the people.

The medical work of the “Save the Children Fund” was centred in two of the largest southern parts of the republic, PUSAN and MASAN, to which many of the refugees had fled. Prior to the war Pusan had a population of 300,000 but had increased almost  overnight to 2½ million, and Mason to 159,000.

Situated in one of the villages about 4 miles from the city in Masan was the S.C.F. Children’s Hospital taking 88 T.B. patients. This was an L-shaped building with 10 wards opening onto an open verandah, and clinic rooms for outpatients. An English doctor and Sister supervised the work of the hospital, and trained Korean nurses in paediatric work. These nurses spent 3 months in the Baby wards but at first found the work hard and exacting by the demands made upon them.

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This can only be fully understood when one realises that one of the Training Hospitals in Masan has as many as 30 nurses  graduating in one year, yet had no more than 5 or 6 patients in at one time, Consequently their knowledge in the main, is theoretical and they need to be taught a tremendous amount of practical nursing.

l was attached to the hospital as a Public Health Nurse and visited the homes of the in-patients wherever possible, arranging Mantoux tests for the contacts and doing Bacillus Calmette-Guerin programmes (B.C.G. a vaccination for prevention of tuberculosis) in the villages and orphanages. Later this work was taken over by my interpreter and l was free to open a Baby Clinic in one of the poorest parts of the city, where over 600 homes daily were receiving a ration of cornmeal – their only sustenance for the day! Many babies died within their first year of life, and it was hoped that by giving the Mothers advice on infant feeding, management and immunisation there would be a stronger foundation for later life. Many of our families lived in shocking conditions, some in shacks or small mud and straw huts on the hillsides, with 7 and 8 to one small room, while others sought some kind of shelter under the arches of the bridges. Often the father had died or was away doing army service, and the mother would be away from home all day attempting to sell her wares in the market in order to buy food for the family. The oldest child, maybe 6 or 7 years would be the one who would bring the baby into the clinic, and it was to these “young mothers” that our instructions would be given.

In summer the heat, humidity and flies brought us the three deadly “D’s” – DlARRHOEA – DEHYDRATION  – DEATH. Difficult feeders, undernourished and dehydrated babies, would be brought in by the day, given tube or supervised feeds, and then returned to their homes at night. The giving of powdered milk to these babies, plus additional fluid and protein saved many a life and it was a joy to see a baby responding after 2 or 3 days “special feeding”. As in many countries multiple births are not accepted and it was a tragedy to see twins born the same weight receive different treatment, and the relief on the face of a mother a few days later when she tells you “only one baby now.”

As we were the only organisation working in Masan giving free medical help it was sought readily, even if not carried out. WHY should there be any concern when the baby didn’t come for its 2nd Diptheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (D.P.T.) injection, or the necessity to give a medicine three times a day when the baby didn’t appear to be getting better; To people who had never had any instruction in infant welfare care this was all very foreign, and it required constant home visiting by the Clinic nurses.

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When the Clinic was planned we decided to work in one section of the city and present a concentrated programme of l.W.C. in that area. Six months later when doing a survey of the area we visited the 2050 homes and found only 120 under the age of 18 months not attending. 756 babies were under supervision and much personal instruction had been given in the homes as well as at the Clinic.

Preventive Medicine was new to the Korean, and it will only be by continual repeated advice and instruction that a higher  standard of health, eventually, will be reached in that Land,


(With very sincere thanks from Magazine Committee.)


We are all inclined to remember the past through rose-coloured  spectacles, too conveniently forgetting the hard and unpleasant facts. Ask any ex-nurse what she remembers most about her nursing days, and she will immediately recall some incident, happy,  humorous in retrospect, during her training. It may have been terrible at the time, like the Great Flood, or upsetting the sterile table in theatre, or sleeping in on a.m. duty when you had 17 babies to bath before breakfast, or boiling every teat in Maternity to an evil-smelling rubbery pulp. Or spilling the porridge trolley all over the main corridor. Or perhaps she will remember nostalgically the shared cups of tea on someone’s bed; the cracked, handleless seldom washed cups, when you shared far more than just the tea.

We forget the paralysing mouth-drying fear on our first day on duty, when we gave our first injection;  when the surgeon roared at us in the middle of an operation for an instrument and we didn’t have a clue what it was.  That ghastly moment when the Night-

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Runner crashed on the light and Panted “Ten past five, Nurse.” When you stood before your Judge on Practical Exam day; when the world went off to a picnic on the most glorious day of  summer and you had to go on duty. When the Matron called you to her office for reasons unknown; when you were Senior p.m. Nurse and all the plumbing stopped working; and the long cold nights when you weren’t busy and couldn’t keep awake to write your Report.

The pain of some things we could never forget – the agony we saw in many eyes and the despair we felt when we could do no more and felt we had failed.

We can laugh now when we remember those great piles of dirty linen and nappies we had to wash before we went off duty. Hours of making plaster bandages and dressings, the agony of trying to keep awake in Doctor’s lecture when we had been on duty all the night before; the plate of pudding gulped behind the kitchen door when we had no time to go to dinner. Weigh day worries, the stolen moonlight swims after duty, and always the rush, rush, rush! The bells, telephone, Matron’s round, babies foods, Doctor’s rounds, admissions, eternal Bedpans, tea trolleys, theatre cases, running out of sugar, dressings and draw sheets.

You never forget those precious little moments like your first sleep in after a week of morning duty, the luxury of going to bed like everyone else on your night off, and breakfast in bed on your day off. Or the big moments – when  you came off duty on your first day as a Nurse, when you removed your first Sutures,  scrubbed for your first case, delivered your first baby – right up to the time when you sat your finals, passed and became a Staff Nurse.

It’s funny, isn’t it, that this period of three years or so which after all isn’t very long, figures so predominantly in your memory.

You may travel the world over in a sailing boat, marry a rich man and live in a Palace, work hard and gain a top place in your profession but you can never recapture the atmosphere of those years. Perhaps it is because we were young then, growing up into women together and sharing with our class-mates all our hopes, dreams and fears, twenty four hours a day for all those precious years.

And that is why we remember with affection and pride our old  Training School and gather together within its sheltering walls, where every corner holds a memory and hides a ghost of the past.

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As early as 1906, the people of Hastings and District felt the need for a Hospital in their own town, which then had a population of 4594. Napier only twelve miles away, already had sufficient beds for both towns, but in those days of slow transport and  communications, it seemed unfair to seriously ill patients and their families, to have to travel that distance. Even though some beds were made available at Private Hospitals for urgent cases,  Hastings people still had to pay a levy for Napier Hospital which caused some dissatisfaction. A group of men, Mr. J. A. Miller, Mr. G. Ebbett, Mr. C. Duff, Mr. W. Hart, and Dr. H. Wilson, called a meeting to discuss the problem. A fund started, with £51 from the Indian Famine Fund, and a Ball was held. These men laid the foundations for the Hospital which is ours today.

1910  The Mayoress, Mrs. J. A. Miller, proposed the establishment of a Cottage Hospital. By this time the population of Hastings alone, was 6282.

1913-14.  The Hastings Hospital Association was formed, and fundraising began. In spite of the initiative and efforts of the many people concerned, it would still be a long time before their dreams would materialize.

1918.  The Flu Epidemic which followed the Great War, with Napier Hospital setting up temporary Wards in the Hastings Drill Hall and Racecourse, showed clearly the need for a Hospital. A further Committee was appointed at a Public Meeting, chaired by the Mayor, Mr. I. Simson, to try and erect a Maternity Home and Cottage Hospital as a Memorial to those who died in the War.

1919-20.  By now the funds reached £1800, and a Hospital Fallen Soldiers Committee was formed. The Chairman was Mr. G. Ebbett, Deputy Chairman Mr. W. Hart, and the Committee was composed of representatives of the Hastings and Havelock North Borough and County Council, Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board, Labour Union, W.C.T.U. [Women’s Christian Temperance Union], the Maori people, Y.M.C.A. [Young Men’s Christian Association] and the R.S.A. [Returned Services Association]. The site chosen was the Ridge property, about the highest land in the area, bought from the Garnett Estate and the Rugby Union for £2796. With a rapidly increasing population (9115) this period was a time of intense discussion and planning by the Committee, Architects, and Health Department. Even though progress was still slow, it was felt that at last something was being done.

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Photo Caption – Miss I. Owen   Sister-in-Charge of Maternity from 1928 to 1949

1923.  Funds now reached the promising figure of over £10,000, in spite of several years of depression.

1927.  Building began. This was greatly helped by donations of money by the people of Hastings and District, as well as gifts in many forms. Uncle Ed of 2YZ and Hawke’s Bay Radio Society, presented the unique Pillow Radios. Wilsons’ Nurseries donated rose bushes, and different organisations gave memorial beds.

1928.  At a Service on Anzac Day, Wednesday 25th April 1928, the Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital was officially opened by the Minister of Health, Hon. J. A. Young. This was a proud day for the people of Hastings and District, for this was their Hospital, built by them in honour of their dead.

The building, with its Memorial entrance Hall, a wing on either side consisting of 21 beds, Matrons quarters, Kitchen, Operating Theatre, Doctors’ Rooms, Dispensary and Offices, was handed over to the H.B. Hospital Board, to be run and maintained by them. The Foundation Stone reads,

Erected 1927,
By the People of the District,
In Everlasting Remembrance of our Honoured Dead,

As Medical and Surgical services were not yet established, 10 beds only were occupied by maternity patients, with Miss I. Owen as Sister in Charge. Patients were under the care of the Napier Medical Superintendent, and it was not until much later that a Mother could be attended by her own Doctor.

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1929-31. The Hospital was for a brief period, part training School for Midwifery in conjunction with the McHardy Home, Napier. This period ended with the commencement of a separate Maternity and Midwifery course. Nurses worked a 10-hour day and were on call at night, as well as having to travel to Napier for lectures. A little later six and 18 month Maternity classes were commenced.

1931. The Earthquake. Although much of Hastings fell, the sturdy little Hospital was unharmed, and the temporary beds set up once again in the Racecourse for the many injured showed clearly that an even larger Hospital was required. A most generous bequest of £35,000 by the Kelly family in memory of Miss H. L. Kelly who was killed in the earthquake, with a donation of £4000 from Mr. R. Harding for a Maternity Block, enabled the Hospital to enlarge. Even before the extension, the little Hospital offered within the limits of its physical capacity, a full medical and surgical service to the District. Only specialist, infections, and E.E.N.T. cases were sent to Napier.

Miss I. E. Sellar became the First Matron of the Hospital. Theatre Staff attended to all Outpatients, as well as doing X-rays. Anaesthetics, mostly Ether, Ethyl Chloride and spinals, were administered by Junior Surgeons.

The familiar brick faced Nurses Home, which was later named after Dr. H. Wilson was also opened.

1934.  Miss I. Russell who was formerly Theatre Sister was appointed Matron.

1935.  Wards one and two, and a Maternity Block were completed giving the Hospital 64 beds, and the Nurses Home was extended. About this time, patients remained in bed ten days after Appendectomy and the population of Hastings alone was 12,754.

Photo Caption – Miss I. Russell  Matron from 1934 to 1956.

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Photo caption – Dr. L. W. Broughton Assistant Medical Superintendent since 1945.

1937.  New Operating Theatre and Outpatients wings were built thus greatly increasing the capabilities of the Hospital. Dr. W. Reeve, who had retired from practice, took over the work of a Resident, and greatly relieved the burden of the G.P’s and  Hospital nursing Staff. Later, he was appointed as the First Assistant Medical Superintendent, of the Memorial Hospital. Maternity patients were now attended by their own Doctors, and Dr. Reeve was in charge of those who had no Doctor.

1938:  An ever generous Public, assisted with funds raised by the Nurses, built the swimming pool.

1939:  A turning point in the history of the Hospital came in July, 1939, when, due to the efforts of Miss Russell and Doctors W. Reeve, and H. Wilson, it was appointed an A.B. Training School. There was no Preliminary School, Students going straight into the Wards, and spending six months at Napier in Infectious and E.E.N.T. Wards. In their first year Nurses received £33 salary out of which they had to provide books, shoes and stockings, and pay £6/7/0 compulsory superannuation. Lectures, in the Nurses own time, were given by Honorary Staff, Dr. W. Reeve, and the Matron. The War brought many changes, with many Doctors Overseas, and girls manpowered into nursing. More land was bought, and a house for the R.M.O. and a Recreational Hall for Nurses were built.

1940.  Ante Natal services were commenced in the newly completed clinic. Patients in Maternity stayed in bed ten days after delivery, and were discharged after 14 days. With the introduction of cyclo propane for anaesthesia, more use was made of the gas and oxygen machine in general surgery. M & B 693 was used for the first time, and Nurses received a short preliminary training at Napier. An increasing number of Maori mothers were now having their babies in Hospital.

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1941.  Ward 5 Building was commenced, and the original wing became Ward IV. An attractive two storied Nurses Home which later become Owen Home, was built. Penicillin and other improved drugs and methods began to change the length and treatment of a disease. Dr. A. F. Marshall was appointed Assistant Medical Superintendent.

1942.  The first Class of Nurses graduated, all six gaining honours. Dr. E. W. B. Griffiths, E.E.N.T. specialist at Hastings, died on active service in Singapore.

1943.  Early ambulation was gradually introduced, and a radical change in anaesthetics came with the introduction of Pentothal.

1945.  Dr. L. W. Broughton became Assistant Medical Superintendent. Our nurses took part in the first Drama Festival, which became an annual inter-Hospital function.

1946.  Ward V was extended, providing beds for up to fifty children. A new wing (Fernhill), was added to Maternity, bringing the  number of beds there to 32. The salary for a First Year Nurse was now £72. A private Maternity Home was taken over by the Hospital, becoming St. Aubyn Street Maternity Annex. The Hospital now had 122 beds, with the population of Hastings alone at 14,623.

1948.  The Domestic services block was built. The Nurses Magazine, with its cover inscribed “Service Unto Others” was published, and was the forerunner of many to come. The annual picnic, Christmas parties, basketball, tennis and swimming matches that provided a welcome break were in full swing.

1949.  The Tutorial Block was completed, and the old Demonstration room and Lecture rooms being converted for other uses. Miss Owen who had been with the Hospital since its beginning as Sister in Charge of Maternity, resigned after 21 years service. A further improvement in anaesthetics came with the use of relaxants and endotracheal anaesthesia, and the after effects of operations were much less severe. Anaesthetics were now a specialised field. Nurses then received £122 a year, plus books, and shoe and stocking allowances. The first Hospital Ball, which was also to become a much enjoyed annual event, was held.

1951.  The Physiotherapy Block was built. As the result of activity by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, funds were collected from the Public and given to the Board as part of the cost of a complete Physiotherapy Unit. Hospital blazers appeared for the first time.

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1952.  A new three storeyed Nurses Home, named after Miss Russell, was opened. The first wooden structure of the Hospital, a Womens’ Medical Ward, was built. There were now 148 beds available for a population in the city of 17,234. A fine beach cottage was built by Hastings businessmen beside the small cottage already erected by Registered Nurses on their property at Te Awanga.

1954.  The end of another era was marked by the Hospitals General Wards becoming an A Grade Training School, Nurses now having to spend only six weeks at Napier. Mr. R. Harding most generously donated the fine Recreational Hall, which bears his name.

1955.  St. Aubyn Street Annexe was closed. The old Blake Green house was shifted to its present site as part of the Maternity Wards, making a total of 46 Maternity beds. A gradual change over to study days had been taking place for some years, and Nurses no longer had to attend Lectures in off duty time.

1956.  Miss Russell retired, after 25 years on the Staff, 22 of these as our Matron. A Nurses Reunion and farewell for Miss Russell were held to honour her years of service to the Hospital. Miss E. M. Hall, who had joined the Staff in 1945 as Ward Sister, Ward 5, become Matron.

1957.  This year saw the commencement of the new Hospital building, Block A & AB to relieve the critical overcrowding. The population of Hastings City was 19-20,000. A new Boiler House was built, and Nurses salaries increased to £218. A new curriculum for Student Nurses was introduced, reducing the time of training to three years, and including Maternity (4½ months). Dr. R. Cashmore Senior Surgeon at the Hospital since its beginning and lecturer to countless nurses, died on duty at the Hospital.

1958-59.  Extensions were made to the Tutorial Block, Mens’ Medical Ward, and Russell Home. The Hospital lost one of its most faithful workers in Dr. H. Wilson, who gave over 50 years service and support to the Board, and the following year saw the passing of Dr. A. F. Marshall, Honorary Surgeon and lecturer since 1945.

1960.  The new Nurses Home was commenced, and a Store Building, and Mortuary.  New student Nurse Classes, three year course, now averaged 35-40 a year, and there are 133 in training: 18 months Maternity Nurses are taken twice yearly, and there are 15 in training.  Community Student Nurses are taken twice yearly and there are 24 in training, the total number of Hospital beds available being 169.

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1961.  On May 24th, 1961, another big occasion in the history of the Hospital, the Surgical and Administration Block of the new  Hospital was opened by the Minister of Health, Mr. Shelton. This contained four surgical wards of 30 beds each, Operating Theatres, and Central Supply, and an Administration Block. Many long awaited facilities were included – Committee Room, Patients telephone, Canteen, and rooms for Hearing Aid Clinic, and Hairdresser. The old Mens’ Surgical Ward, became Womens’ Medical. Work was completed on the new stores block, which included sewing and linen rooms, and the Mortuary. The whole Hospital could now accommodate 288 patients. As a result of a further bequest by Mr. Harding, a Supper Room was added to Harding Hall, A Recovery Room in Theatre, plus new  improvements in Drugs, technique and equipment, made anaesthetics much more safe and pleasant. Traditional Hospital hours were changed, with Nurses duties commencing and ending one hour later, with the satisfactory result that patients woke and retired at a more respectable hour. Miss Mardon, who came to the  Hospital as a Staff Nurse in 1933, retired after 27 years of service as District Nurse. Visiting hours were extended, with adult general wards having half an hour visiting each evening, as well as the usual day visiting times, and parents were allowed to visit their children each evening between 4 and 6 pm.

1962.  The Laboratory was extended to include the old X-ray Rooms. X-ray Department now being housed in the former Theatre Block. A Dining room and Kitchen wing in the new Nurses Home commenced. Mr. N. C. Rees was appointed Medical Superintendent on his arrival from England.

1963.  X-ray and Laboratory renovations were completed, and the Nurses Dining Wing opened. Outpatients Department was  completely renovated and extended, allowing more room for the various clinics.

 1964.  On 2nd August, the Chapel was opened and dedicated. Medical and Nursing Staff had been hoping for provision for this ever since the new Hospital was proposed, and the Department of Health finally allowed the Board to use the Memorial Entrance of the old Hospital, for this. Funds for the conversion were raised from the Public, mainly through the efforts of the Nursing staff. An Occupational Therapy Department was opened, and the Day Psychiatric Unit established. An Intensive Care Unit was instituted, and special equipment gradually added.

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1965.  The Workshops were reorganised, thus changing even more, the once familiar “back yard”. First Year General Nurses now receive £491 annually, including £208 board. With the advent of Penal Rates, extra pay was allowed for night, weekend, shift and broken duties, and for academic qualifications. The six weeks infections nursing training at Napier, was discontinued, and the Community Nurse Course inaugurated. This is a shortened simple form of general nursing, covering 18 month training, with a State Examination at the end of 12 months. A further period of six months satisfactory service entitles the Community Nurse to an endorsement of her Certificate, by the Nurses and Midwives Board.

1966.  Psychiatric Block commenced. Tentative plans for a new Obstetric Department.

To all those who have been associated with our Hospital, and who have made it what it is today –  the hard working Committees, fund raising organisations and Medical Practitioners of early days, the Doctors, Nurses, Laboratory, Dispensary and X-ray, Office, Maintenance and Household Staff, and most of all, our Patients and our wonderful, ever helping Public, these changes must bring nostalgia and pride.


To Mr. A. M. Isdale, who compiled the EARLY HISTORY of the Hospital in 1941 at the request of the Hospital Board and from whose notes the early records were taken, with the assistance of Miss Hall.

I also wish to thank those others who so willingly  supplied information, without which the compiling of this report would have been impossible.



A physician was called up to see a seamstress who felt indisposed.  He enquired as to her health and she responded very appropriately:  “Well it’s about sew and sew Doctor, but seams worse today and I have frequent stitches in the side.”

The Doctor hemmed as he felt her pulse and said she would mend soon.

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Do you remember . . .

Mr. Robert Harding and his generous gifts to Nurses. Harding Hall – high  on the list.

Mr. James Shaw and his Graduation posies, and also his presence at the Ceremonies whenever his health permitted.

Mr. Wally Edwards – his great sense of fun and his help to all, especially Junior Nurses on Pay Day. Passed away August, 1966.

Jimmy Spencer the Gardener from 1929, and Father Christmas at the Fancy Dress Parties, deceased 1964.

Sam the vegetable man who also came in 1929.

Sister McVay and her colony of CATS – all being fed at the back of the Old Kitchen block.

Nurses’ Picnics at Clifton – too much food and laughing.

Six months Training in Napier and all the romances begun and broken?

Sailors in the Swimming Pool. Not swimming either??!!


Sister Hooper’s sore feet ???

Basketball games and the rush to get there.

Dr. Fergusson in Ward 3 with rheumatic fever and Sister McNamara’s efficient treatment.

Dr. Geoff Holland – now  Mr. Holland of Princess Margaret Hospital, Christchurch.

Hospital floats for the Blossom Parade and all the preparation and Nurse Eileen O’Connell who led the parade one year – The First Blossom Queen ???

Sister Pole and her Seameal Custard for Ward Five Tea – Yuch !!

Rhubarb or Joyce’s Porridge?

Gracie Love in the old, old, Dining Room, now a Staff Cafeteria.

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Photo Captions –

New Block under Construction

Photos by Alec Houston Photography

New Block completed.

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In earlier times private hospital facilities were offered to those people of Hastings who desired them, and operations were carried out in a succession of well-run but small nursing homes. Gradually the concept grew in the conscience of the Board that emergency cases, whose plight was too desperate to allow them to travel safely to the provincial Public Hospital in Napier, should be admitted to these private homes as well.

Later however the desirability of all public hospital cases receiving treatment in their own town was recognised and was expressed in the establishment in the years after World War I of the Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. This was opened  appropriately on Anzac Day, 1928;  but at first only Maternity  services were developed as fragmentation of the medical and surgical services in the province was not favoured.

Then came the Earthquake, on 3-2-1931. In Hastings the existing private hospital (“Royston”) was that day transferred to the  Racecourse and dealt with the urgent needs of the occasion. Soon the Hospital Board took over the conduct of the emergency service. It also examined its buildings and plant at the Memorial  Hospital; and finding them virtually unscathed, opened the hospital at last to general medical and surgical cases as well as to the Maternity work. This step was possible about three weeks after the ‘quake. A staff of doctors and nurses was organised and were to exert themselves to the full for many years in trying to cope with the local need using facilities which expanded all too slowly.

During the first six years there was no resident doctor, and the junior surgeons spent their time alternately on a surgical run and otherwise as anaesthetists and casualty officers. This meant that the Honorary staff of that period often made several visits to the hospital each day. A distinct step forward in treatment followed the codification of Routine Orders which were a systematic statement on the reception, distribution and assessment of all cases together with a detailed routine for pre-operative and post-operative care. The entire medical staff, with  assistance from the senior Sisters prepared these orders and it was remarkable to observe in the course of discussion how many foibles of surgeons had no rational or defensible basis; and how relatively easy it was on reflection to arrange a standard routine acceptable to all, and an advance on previous custom. The orders proved invaluable as they were introduced as a guide to the nursing staff at a time when no residents were available.

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It was a relief when the first medical officer was appointed with administrative duties, the care of casualty and the conduct of a considerable number of anaesthetics. The progressive and ever-welcome additions to the bed-state kept all sections of the staff busy. Gradually the residents have been increased in number and their scope of work enlarged; and it was a proud day for the hospital when it was recognised officially as one where  postgraduate training could be taken in preparation for the F.R.A.C.S. as well as for the F.R.C.S.

The nursing staff had gained in status much sooner as their records show; and it was the pleasure and pride of all the doctors to take a hand in their tuition which has traditionally in this hospital been undertaken by the senior rather than by the junior medical men. Perhaps this arrangement was dictated in the early days purely by self-interest as any situation with which the nurses could not cope meant another trip “back to Memorial”. So we became a very close-knit team. A transition was also going  forward in the Maternity wards where the care of the patients gradually passed from the sole responsibility of the Superintendent (at Napier) and fell into the hands of the practitioners of their choice.

All this was shattered by the War  – World  War ll as it became known. A survey showed that some 80% of the medical men of Hawke’s Bay were already returned servicemen from the first World War; and from the remainder manpower considerations decreed that only the younger few could enlist. The remainder undertook the much-increased work on the home front, and incidently loyally conserved the interests of their colleagues who went overseas. The pace of building expansion slowed up, everything else gained pace and all felt the strain of excessive work.

With the return of peace, a fresh and bolder expansion of the hospital facilities was planned with the object of ending the habit of making piecemeal additions which had always heretofore been dictated by our restricted finance. No longer were the night nurses to juggle beds to make room to admit extra urgent cases, no longer were the bed-patients on their way to X-ray to squeeze past others housed in the narrow corridors.

The day of commodious wards with a stable bed state had arrived, some amenities could be planned and with the opening of Blocks A and AB some advantageous re-arrangement of the old wards was possible.

About this time a change came over the status of the Medical and Nursing staff. Once Board members had occupied the position of lay brothers assisting professional men at their work, by relieving them expertly of the care of housekeeping and administration. Now the medical men began to be paid for their time; later still

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payment was increased and gradually the policy was established that the payment was for services rendered and should be  realistically assessed to enable the doctors to make themselves skilled and available to the increasing patient needs. Thus the term Honorary was dropped in favour of Visiting Staff, and the time required was much more clearly defined. In the Nursing field similar changes followed but more slowly; but a more exact calculation of the hours of duty is now routine.

Most persons in the vast hurrying community are now paid. Some notable exceptions remain: The Board Member, the groups of lay helpers typified by Friends of the Hospital, and the drivers for services like Meals on Wheels. The altruism of all such is beyond question.

Changes reflecting the alterations in the social structure outside the Hospital have been made. Patients are now addressed as Mr. So and So;  the importance of the associated services by domestic workers is admitted. The greatest invasion of all is by noise: no equipment is silent, no task unobtrusive; many new items for treatment or transport have been introduced, and all these compete for an allocation of time in the convenient hours. Happily the control of noise is being undertaken and some recent signs of success in this field are evident. 

Similarly the new interest in mental health has been met by the development here of a Psychiatric service which is now so far advanced that it is recognised as a Training centre for the Diploma in Psychological Medicine of the A & N.Z. College of Psychiatrists. This policy is to be facilitated by the construction of new and suitable premises.

Soon we shall see a gathering of Nurses in our Hospital each one of whom will recall some phase of its development in which she helped. No doubt many will rejoice to recall the “good old days” yet as they appreciate the continuous and vigorous growth and the constant improvement in the service here they will agree that “the best is yet to be.”


(With sincere thanks from Magazine Committee.)


For photographs supplied for reproduction in this Magazine.

Mr. Reuben Wright – Cover
Mr. Bruce Martin – Portraits
Mr. Alec Houston – Hospital 

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6 – 7 pm. Cocktail Hour
Photographs on Display
7 pm. DINNER
GRACE by Marion Wellwood
Roast Pork with Apple Sauce
Roast Beef
Fruit Salad
Wine Trifle
Tea or Coffee
Wine served with meal; “Sparkling Gravilla”
Soft Drinks

The Queen – proposed by Toastmaster, Zelda Houston
The “Hospital” – proposed by Miss Russell
Reply by Dr. Broughton


“Absent Graduates” – proposed  by Zelda Houston

All performers past graduates. Ngaire Bone, Verna Hill, Zelda Houston, Audrey McCracken, Faith Round, Colleen Treacher, Greta Taylor, Enid Sutherland, Val Smith.


Officiating Ministers:
Rev. J. B. Dawson (Methodist N.C.C.)
Father McCartney (Roman Catholic)
Organist – Mrs Vena McEwan
Choir Haster [Master] – Mr  Erwin Read

Norma Blackman, Margaret Briasco, Anne Brinson, Miriam Heeney, Verna Hill, Faith Round, Elaine Sheppard, Valerie Smith, Jennifer Sturm, Enid Sutherland, Fiona Whitaker, Rosemary Williamson.

Best Values and Selections at
C A P your Reunion

Alex Houston Photography –
for a complete photographic service
Official Reunion Photographer

Original digital file




Date published


Format of the original


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