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Plunket Society - a successful system

Plunket Rooms Geraldine, The Press 1925, ATL

Frederick Truby King, K.T., C.M.G., M.B., B.Sc, and his wife Isabella Cockburn King, unselfishly devoted their lives to the promotion of the health of women and children. Together they founded the Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children (Plunket Society).

Against great odds and ridicule, Dr. F. Truby King (1 April 1858 – 10 February 1938) and his wife founded the Plunket Society in 1907. He believed that by providing support services to parents, the society could ensure children were fed on a nutritious diet, and therefore reduce infant and child mortality rates. He also believed that this would improve adult health as the children got older. Within a year, the society had first opened The Karitane Home For Babies in Dunedin, and then opened centres in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. He did not do this alone, he had the support of influential women in the community, like Mrs Rachelina Armitage of Temuka, Dr. Alice Moorehouse of Christchurch, and his wife, Isabella "Bella" King who was the business and campaign manager, secretary, publicist and link to the society's centres and she wrote a weekly newspaper column "Our Babies" under the nom de plume By Hygeia, which by 1914 appeared in 50 newspapers throughout New Zealand. Lady Plunket, the patroness was very actively involved. In 1912, King made a lecture tour on the Plunket Society. As a result of his tour, 60 new centres opened around New Zealand, each employing a nurse. The centres were named Plunket Rooms now in 2012 called Plunket Clinics. Dunedin's Karitane Hospital also operated as a training centre for Plunket nurses and Karitane nurses.

Hygeia refers to the Greek goddess of health, cleanliness, and sanitation.

Evening Post, 7 March 1927, Page 12
It is now 20 years ago that Dr. Truby King found three tiny babies neglected and dying in a dark lean-to attached to a licensed home for the care of infants in Dunedin. His wife willingly accepted the responsibility of their care, and her devoted mothering and the doctor's skill won life and eventually health for these unfortunate little ones. They throve under the care and supervision of the doctor, and so began one of the finest societies of the world, a small beginning calling human sympathy and skill to bear on a need that struck at the very root of our national life the welfare of little children. Twenty years ago, before this great work commenced baby lives were being lost in New Zealand at the terrible rate of 75 per 1000 births. By the official figures for last year the percentage of infantile deaths was reduced to 39.9 per thousand births.  

Named after Lady Plunket - no mere figurehead

Originally called the Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children, Plunket got its name from an early patron of the Society, Victoria A. Plunket mother of eight and wife of then Governor of New Zealand, William Plunket. Lady Plunket addressed meetings frequently discussing the morality rate and showing charts and forged a national administration and helped to design the nurses’ uniforms. She also patented a hood for baby prams and other conveyances for carrying children.

New Zealand Free Lance, 10 October 1908, Page 6
Lady's Plunket's mission was saving of infant life. Lady Plunket has travelled through New Zealand organising nursing guilds for the instruction of mothers and the salvation of the children, and has achieved excellent results. If the progress continues to be as rapid as it has been during the past couple of years, nearly every child born in New Zealand should have a reasonable chance of developing into an asset to the country and we need assets. Over three hundred of these little ones were so seriously ill at the time of their coming under the charge of the Plunket nurses that the majority would probably have died but for the skilled attention given them. The whole Dominion joins with the Attorney-General in eulogising the public-spirited action of Lady Plunket in this work. The work of the nurses in infant lifesaving is beyond praise. It is one of the finest accomplishments of the year in New Zealand.

There might be no more elite matriarchal patrons in their pearls and fur stoles, but people from all walks of life continue to give their time and support for free, wrote Rhonda Bartle  

Otago Daily Times 7 May 1910, Page 5
OUR BABIES by Higeia.
WORK AT TIMARU. The Chairwoman said they could look with satisfaction on the year's work. Fourteen months ago the branch was not even founded, and at the time of its formation the movement was regarded by many as a rash experiment.  They could now look on the branch as a recognised institution. The results of the Society's work were excellent. The committee had benefited much by the experience of the older branches in the centres. Much of the success had been due to the grand work of the energetic Plunket nurse, Sister Alice.
    The secretary (Mrs S.F. Smithson) then road the annual report:— FIRST ANNUAL REPORT. The committee has made very satisfactory progress in this their first year, 1909- 1910. On February 4, 1909, a meeting of ladies was held in the Council Chambers, and under the direction of Dr Truby King (who had previously delivered a lecture in the theatre explaining the aims of the Society) this branch was formed, and Sister Alice was appointed Plunket Nurse. The aims and objects of the Society are now too well known to require recapitulation, but it has enlarged the scope of its work in the following ways:— Sub-branches have been formed at Temuka and Geraldine, where Sister Alice pays monthly visits. At their inauguration she gave lectures and practical demonstrations for the assistance of parents. Considering the short time these branches have been in existence the progress made by them is very satisfactory, and the committee are to be congratulated on the results. Other country cases avail themselves largely of the Society's services by seeking advice through correspondence, and this has now become a special feature of the work. Many copies of the pamphlet have also been sent out by request, and have been found very useful.
    SPECIAL EXTENSION OF LECTDBES. Sister Alice also delivered a course of lectures at the Technical School, for which she was given testimonial, to prove how interesting and instructive she had made them. She is to be congratulated on being the first Plunket nurse to undertake work of this kind, and it is encouraging to note the success with which her efforts have been crowned. The question dealt with was the healthy management of the home and children, and as she has been asked to repeat the course, with the addition of class for girls between the ages of 18 and 22 we hope that the nucleus of a school for mothers has been formed. We should like to bring before the notice of the members that these side lines are possible to this branch only through the generosity and unusual lecturing capabilities of Sister Alice herself, who voluntarily sacrifices; so large a part of her own time on behalf of the Society, as such work is in no way included in her professional duties., The statistics of the regular work of Sister Alice are as follows:—Number of cases during year 220; visits paid by nurse to homes of patients 2830; visits made by patients or their representatives to the office 450; visits paid to country patients 50; letters written 86.

Star 25 September 1909, Page 4 By Hygeia
The Society's work in Canterbury

The progress made by the two Canterbury branches of the Society at Christchurch and Timaru has been very remarkable. Timaru, representing South Canterbury, has been at work for some six months. In both the rate of progress has exceeded that of branches in other provinces, while the gratitude expressed by parents in all directions is the best testimony to the quality of the services rendered to mother and child and the spirit in which the committees and nurse are working. That there have been great difficulties to surmount, both at Christchurch and Timaru, no one can doubt who knows anything about conservatism and narrowness of the of mankind and womankind in all matters concerning the baby. What, then, has enabled a handful of women in to centres to successfully move a province in the course of so short a time, without showing the public that they were carrying on an arduous fight all the time against traditional superstition, prejudice and ignorance, and not merely marching unopposed to easy victories?
Christchurch and Timaru have been singularly fortunate in all the factors essential to success.
1. There has been throughout both centres keen sympathy, great enthusiasm and entire confidence on the part of a few energetic leading spirits in the mission which the Society was undertaken and is pledged to carry through.
2. In both centres certain leading members or the medical profession have from the start shown not merely a passing interest in the Society's doings, but have come forward and openly expressed their conviction of the soundness and beneficence of the work. The fact that Dr. Alice Moorhouse was the first president of the Christchurch branch, and that Dr. Finch, the head of the Public Health Service for the city, gave the Society every assistance and an unqualified backing, tended to establish general confidence. In Timaru the Plunket nurse has received very strong support from doctors, who have gone entirely out of their way to help forward the work and make the branch a success.
3. The Press in Canterbury has given the Society every possible help and encouragement. Without this warm and generous support this unqualified endorsement and advocacy of our work would have taken many years to arrive at the present position.
4. The Plunket nurses in Canterbury without any exception have shown a whole-hearted zeal, capability and enthusiasm, in their mission, which is beyond praise. The measure of their has been the measure of their deserts. One cannot express one's appreciation more emphatically than this.
In thus drawing attention to and emphasising the progress of the work in Canterbury it must be clearly understood that no reflection is made on the work of any other centre. Other individual branches have done similar work with similar successes, but there is no province in which so much has been effected in so short a time and I have thought it worthwhile to draw attention to the fact that this uniform steady progress can have resulted only from, the harmonious working of a series of factors acting together in other words, from a very striking and excellent organisation.
A MUTUAL AID SOCIETY. The Society is not a charitable organisation. It seeks to educate people of every class, and though the Nurses services are free, it expects that people who have received help will send a suitable subscription or donation to its funds if they are able to do so. Her Excellency Lady Plunket, patroness of the Society, did a great deal to spread knowledge of its work by four lectures, which she very kindly gave in November last. These were very largely attended, and great interest was shown.

DROP IN DEATH-RATE. The Health Officer forwarded on June 18, a letter containing particulars of the infant mortality in the four chief centres, showing a considerable drop all over the dominion. The greatest drop is to be noticed in Christchurch where the infant death-rate for 1908 was a little more than half that for 1907. For the year ending March 31, 1909, there were only eight deaths from infantile diarrhoea and enteritis in Christchurch and suburbs, only four of these occurring during the summer months. While not claiming more than a share in this improvement, the committee feels that some of it may fairly be credited to their work, and that these figures are most encouraging. Besides the actual saving of life, there is the still more encouraging fact of the improvement in the general health rate of infants, of which there is ample proof.

THE TIMARU BRANCH. Nearly six months has yet to pass before the Society at Timaru will hold its first annual meeting. Meanwhile the following extract from a private letter received last week from the Plunket Nurse conveys a good idea of the progress of the work. Extract from letter.— There are now one hundred and eighteen babies under care, and I am not having any trouble with the cases they go on normally. We had our first public meeting in Temuka on September 8, with a gathering of seventy women thought about fifty, but the report says seventy. However, it was a good meeting, resulting in my getting six babies on the Temuka roll. The arrangement is that I am to go out once a month someone is lending a room where the mothers can come. If anyone requires me during the month I am to go out, the parents paying the fare. At the end of the month Fairlie and outlying districts will open their branch, and we hope to have quite a good a meeting there. Geraldine is making preparations too. The several guilds, mothers' meetings and sewing bees of the Timaru Churches have arranged for afternoon lectures. The Technical School class has a membership roll of eighteen or twenty, with a regular attendance. The women are interested, judging by their questions. In addition, in a previous letter the Nurse mentioned how generously she had been treated by more than one person putting a motor-car at her disposal, for use when she happened to be called to a distance into the country.

Manawatu Standard, 18 May 1910, Page 7
Mr F. J. Rolleston said it gave him very great pleasure as an outsider to congratulate the officers and members of the Society on the very satisfactory report and balance-sheet that had been presented. He did not think that one should judge the work of the Society by the actual results in pounds, shillings, and pence; but still the fact of so satisfactory a result was a matter of congratulation, because without money the work of the Society would be very much crippled. The amazing progress made by the Society was due to the energy of the officers of the Society and the devotion and untiring work of the Plunket nurse. As long as the Society had officers with the same zeal as the present ones, and a nurse with such devotion, there need be no fear of the Society's future.

Photo taken at 'Westwood' at Crookston.Who's Who in Plunket in South Canterbury in the beginning
Rachelina Hepburn Armitage was responsible for establishing the headquarters for the South Canterbury branch of Plunket at Timaru and was president of the Temuka branch from 1914 to 1928. Rachel's brother was William Downie Stewart, b. 1878, as Minister of Internal Affairs, arranged from 1922, local registers should send lists of births to all local branches of the society. Mr Stewart, acted as honorary solicitor to Plunket for many years.

Rachelina Hepburn Stewart was born on 22 April 1873 at Dunedin, NZ, to Rachel Hepburn and her husband, William Downie Stewart, a barrister. She displayed a strength of character and sense of determination from an early age. In 1896 she became the first New Zealand woman to complete the BA course at the University of Oxford. She returned in early 1899 following the death of her father. While visiting her brother George at Crookston, West Otago, Rachel met George Whitefield Armitage, an accountant for the local branch of the BNZ. Their marriage on 4 March 1903 at Crookston Presbyterian Church was the social event of the district. The couple settled on a small property, Garmancare, in Temuka, where their two sons were born. Both Rachel and George Armitage entered into the life of the district. Rachel formed, and was president of, the St Peter's Anglican Church Ladies' Guild which, under her skilled leadership, raised substantial funds to repay the debt owing on the church buildings. She also established a branch of the New Zealand Federation of Women's Institutes in Temuka, and maintained a correspondence with her colleagues in England. Besides assisting George Armitage in managing the day-to-day routines of the farmlet, she supervised the running of her home and extended hospitality to many church dignitaries and important visitors to the district, including Dr. Truby King and his wife, Isabella. Truby was a family friend, and she became committed to his ideas and practices, determinedly setting about establishing the headquarters in Timaru of the Society for the Health of Women and Children (Plunket Society) in South Canterbury. The isolation of country women and their lack of access to Plunket facilities concerned not only the society but also the Women's Institute, and during 1909, under her guidance, branches were formed in outlying districts. Rachel Armitage was president of the Temuka branch of the Plunket Society from 1914 to 1928 and a member of the central council in 1926. Later, she continued to support its activities through fund-raising, gathering clothes and visiting mothers. She was still an energetic member in 1953. Throughout her married life Rachel Armitage was a confidante of and support for her sister Mary and brother William Downie Stewart, providing him with a refuge from his busy political career, in which Mary acted as his hostess. Rachel died on 14 May 1955 during a stay at the family home in Dunedin; she was survived by her two sons. The boys, George Whitefield Armitage b. 1904 and William Stewart Armitage born in 1906 to Rachelina Hepburn and George Whitefield Armitage are in a photo with George and Aunt Elizabeth, taken at "Westwood," Crookston. The photo was probably taken by George Armitage.

Rachel and George Armitage had a son George (1904-1996). George and Patrick Jennings owned the homestead block on Sherwood Downs. George married Janet Violet Rodgers, from Southland, d/o Dr. J.E. Rodgers in 1934. They had met at the Macdonald's at "Corra Lynn" on Sherwood Downs. They first lived in the stone cottage, Mrs Hay's cottage, half way up the Sherwood Downs homestead property driveway, on the left. At the height of the depression his parents, Rachel and George Armitage shut their house up at Temuka and came to Sherwood Downs to live. The Armitage's first car was a Ford, purchased from Geraldine; it was later cut down and used as a truck. In 1939 George sold the Sherwood homestead block to Vyvian Le Cren. George and Janet farmed at Southland before retiring to CHCH where George became a bell ringer at ChristChurch Cathedral along with 21 others. He also rang the bells at St. Pauls, Papanui. He had learnt the art of bell ringer in England. He died in 1996. Ernest Macdonald’s first wife at “Corra Lynn” was Jane Ann Rodgers. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, one of six sons of Dr. Wm Macdonald, LLD DD who was appointed the first headmaster of the Otago Bays HS. Their daughter Christina did Karitane nursing. Jane’s parents came from Argyll, Scotland.

A South Canterbury Karitane nurse, E.F.B., trained in CHCH 1937/58. 

Auckland Star, 31 July 1926, Page 15 The Plunket Society. Officers elected. Dominion Conference closes.
Wellington, Friday. The Dominion conference of the Plunket Society has concluded. It was resolved to draw the attention of the Government to the necessity of action being taken in reference to the injurious effects on children attending picture shows. Sir Truby King said no stone would be left unturned by the executive to get some practical step taken. Mrs. Johnstone said a new mothercraft home would shortly be opened at Invercargill. The following officers were elected:— Central Council general presidents, Sir Truby King and Lady King; president, Mrs. Johnstone; vice-presidents, Dame Christina Massey, Lady Hosking, Mesdames McGeorge (Dunedin), Parkes (Auckland), Maclean (Napier), Newman (Timaru), Pearce (Invercargill); committee, Mesdames McDiarmid (New Plymouth), Armitage (Temuka), Coombes (Palmerston North), Rattray, Sidey, McGeorge, Moore, Cunningham (Dunedin), Williams (Hastings), Buchanan (Nelson); administrative secretary, Miss G. Hoddinott.

Alice Bowman b. 1879 [Miss Bowman] [Sister Alice] A very independent woman. She was such a strong personality. Babies were her business.

Alice M. Bowman after an illness decided to become a nurse.  From about age fourteen she was a music teacher (violin) and closely associated with her Church and Bible classes. She continued her mission prayer and church work during her training. She started her nursing training in Christchurch in 1903 at age 23 and then did her midwifery. On 15th December 1906 she completed her training and received state registration the same month. She applied for a position as a deaconess with the Methodist Central Mission, Dunedin and was accepted. In 1906 in Dunedin she became the first trained nurse in Social Welfare. In 1907 she was appointed an official visitor of H.M. Prison in Dunedin. In 1908 she was appointed Matron of Karitane Baby's Hospital. She also accepted the position as charge of the Karitane Nursing School. Ill health forced her to resign in Feb. 1909. She then went to Timaru and started the Plunket Clinic there. She was the nurse for South Canterbury and held a clinic in the Arcade. She selected Timaru to work as she was familiar with the area. She had contacts there, Aunts and Uncles and cousins. Her mother, Isabella, was buried at Timaru. She also started a course at Tech. institute on "Home Nursing" and "Domestic Hygiene".  She was a good speaker. In the manuscript "The life of Alice Maud Bowman" it written that William Harrold was a policeman in Timaru and they married 7 January 1911 at St. Mary's in Timaru. There is NO marriage in the St Mary's records for Alice Maud BOWMAN and William Samuel HARROLD; in fact no HARROLD's at all in the index. There is no marriage for them on the NZ marriages index NZSG either. Constable Harrold was posted to Gisborne and their first child was born there 29 October 1911. Alice stayed in Timaru until she was very Very pregnant and she just got to Gisborne and delivered.  The family moved to Avondale, Auckland "and the next thing the kitchen was full of babies. I used to see her weighing kids on the scales. She certainly had one huge kitchen- it was nearly as big as a farm kitchen. She would be dealing with the children who were not the clean ones." said Yola (sic) in 1974. When war was declared William sold his horse and cart and his grocery business in Avondale, Auckland and enlisted and Nurse Harrold went to Westport as Plunket Nurse. She gave birth to Alison in Westport on 6th November. Alice died 27 November 1916, from septicemia and was cremated and ashes are at the Karori Crematorium, Wellington. Why did she select Wellington? She did work at Wellington Hospital. She lived long enough to arrange her own funeral. The whole town of Westport was in mourning. William died in 1946 at age 63 and was cremated and buried in Wellington to be with Alice. The manuscript The life of Alice Maud Bowman is at Macmillan Brown Library at the Canterbury University, ChCH was typed by Shirley Nichols from info given by one Alice's two daughters Iola Thomas (w/o Wm. Thomas, of Ashburton).  William Samuel HARROLD married Dorothy Smith LAWRENCE in 1919. She died 1926 and then he re-married Matilda Frances PARKES in 1927.

Auckland Star, 8 January 1907, Page 3
Wellington, Monday. The ninth biennial examination under the Nurses' Registration Act, 1901, was held on December 4 and 5.
In the final examination in nursing the following nurses passed: Alice Bowman

Kai Tiaki: the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, Volume I, Issue 2, April 1908, Page 50
Sister Alice Bowman has been appointed to the Karitani Baby's Hospital. She was trained in the Christchurch Hospital, and has since been district nursing for the Wesleyan Mission in Dunedin.

Manawatu Standard, 11 November 1909, Page 6
Published under the auspices of the Society tor the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children.
Timaru. — Plunket Nurse Bowman. Office of the Society, Arcade Chambers. Tel. 314. Office, hours, 3.30 to 4.50 and 6.30 to 7.30. Hon. sec, Mrs Smithson, Faillie, Sefton street, Tel. 250.

Manawatu Standard, 18 May 1910, Page 7
Timaru.— Plunket Nurse Bowman. Office of the Society, Arcade Chambers. Hon. sec, Mrs Smithson, Faillie, Sefton street.

Marlborough Express, 19 May 1915, Page 6 OUR BABIES By Hygeia
Mothercraft Education in NZ Schools. Between five and six years ago the first definite series of school lessons in mothercraft in the Dominion was given at the Timaru Technical School by the Plunket Nurse, Miss Bowman, who was the first matron of the Karitane Hospital. This was a course of seven lectures and demonstrations, arranged for by Mr Grant, the headmaster of the school, who spoke very warmly as to the excellence of the teaching and the great interest shown by the girls who attended.  

Free Lance, 20 August 1915, Page 4
Ex-Constable Harrold, formerly "on the beat" at Gisborne, has obeyed the call to get out and serve his king and country, and Mrs. Harrold has returned to Plunket nursing until the war is over. Thus is the spirit of patriotism exemplified.

No.12/4003 William Samuel Harrold
First Known Rank: Lance Corporal
Occupation before Enlistment: Grocer
Next of Kin: Mrs A.M. Harrold (wife), Avondale, Auckland
New Zealand Expeditionary Force -10th Reinforcements Auckland Infantry Battalion, A Company
Embarkation Date 4 March 1916. He was reported wounded 15th Sept. 1916 and by November was back on the firing line.

Press, 3 October 1916, Page 7 Reported Wounded
Auckland Battalion. (September 10th.) Harrold W., Temp.-L.-Cpl. (A. M. Harrold, Avondale, Auck., w.) (Sept. 16th.)

, 30 November 1916, Page 3
The late Mrs A. M. Harrold, Plunket Nurse, whose death was reported at Westport on Friday, was trained in the Christchurch Hospital where she obtained her certificate as a nurse. Then, taking up the Plunket nursing system, she was trained by Dr. Truby King, of Karitane Hospital. She was Plunket Nurse at Timaru until her marriage to Constable Harrold, who was shortly afterwards transferred to Gisborne, where she resuscitated the Plunket Society. When her husband left for the front she went to Westport as Plunket Nurse. Corporal Harrold was recently wounded, but is now back in the firing-line. Mrs Harrold's body was taken to Wellington for cremation.

Poverty Bay Herald, 29 May 1917, Page 8
The Gisborne branch of the Plunket Society held their annual meeting yesterday afternoon, Mrs R. Johnston presiding. The society wished to place on record its regret at the death, of Plunket Nurse Harrold, who was at one time a member of the executive and an active member of the committee. She was an enthusiastic and active worker.

The second generation

Alice died Nov. 1916, 24 days after giving birth to Alison and William was away in Europe in the NZEF so Truby and Mrs King took Ida's sister, Alison, to Karitane and Iola went with the Rowley's to Gisborne to relative's, "an aunt's husband, not a real aunt -a cousin, her cousin" and so the girls were separated for a short time until their father came home from the war with the person who became their stepmother.

Alice had opened the Plunket Clinic in Timaru. Dr Ussher, Dr. Talbot and all the other boys who looked after us when we lived in Timaru later with our step-mother. Of course they all knew her - she brought old Dr. Talbot's son, who's a bit older than I into the world. There's another one who is a doctor now. Now Dr. Talbot told me that - 'cos he always looked after our eyes. Written by Iola in 1974.

Birth: 1911 Iolo Wynne Harrold to Alice Maud and William Samuel Harrold.
Death: 22 March 1979/26162 Thomas Iola Wynne b.29 October 1911 DIA buried Ashburton.
Death: William Thomas
died 31 Oct. 1967 buried Ashburton. Architect

DIA under deaths
1916/7663   	HARROLD Alese Maud  	37Y
1999/18842 	LATTIE Alison           DOB 6 November 1916
LATTIE, ALISON Age: 82 Years
Occupation: 		Registered Nurse
Service Date: 		01-09-1999
Service Provided: 	Burial Makara Cemetery
Funeral Director: 	KAPITI COAST
Section: 		ROMANCATH Plot Number: 11/V

Bray, McVicor & Pryor 1937. Little changed except the length of the Karitane nurses uniform, CHCH

Dominion, 4 February 1909, Page 5
Timaru, February 3 Dr. Truby King, after a lecture last night and a demonstration to-day, inaugurated a branch of the Society for the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children.

Grey River Argus, 31 March 1911, Page 3 Timaru
The annual report of the Health and Children's Society states that Sister Alice, a Plunket nurse, during the year had 248 babies under her care; and 4974 visits to homes and had 678 visitors at the office. Branches have been carried on at Temuka and Geraldine one is to be started at Pleasant Point. Sister Alice, who is leaving, was presented with a purse of sovereigns accompanied with high encomiums on the value of her work in advising mothers on the care of infants and young children.  

Marlborough Express, 30 April 1913, Page 3
Besides the centres, where Plunket nurses are already at work: branches of the Society have, been formed at the following places: Geraldine, Temuka,
Dunedin Annual Report. The sixth annual report of the Central Council of the Society for the Health of Women and Children, just issued, gives a summary of the work of the Society since its initiation, we are sure it will interest our readers. No doubt many of you are already members of the Society; if you are not, we trust you will join at once. We are certain you will agree that every patriotic citizen ought to take part in our Health Mission. The honorary secretaries of the local branches will be glad to receive the names and subscriptions of those wishing to join. Besides subscribing to the funds, we trust that members will take, a personal interest in the Society's mission, and try to acquire and spread the simple fundamental knowledge which, if acted upon, makes all the difference between health and ill health in so many homes.

Expansion of the Society.— It is difficult to realise that the small association which was inaugurated six years ago in Dunedin has grown to such large proportions. You may remember that the Society was started to continue and extend a. health mission among mothers and babies which had been instituted privately by Dr. Truby King some 18 months before. This primary work was carried out with the aid of one nurse and the co-operation of the Sisters of the various Churches, to whom lectures and demonstrations had been given, and who took the knowledge thus acquired into the homes of the poor which they visited, while the services of the nurse were availed of by all classes of the community. Besides visiting homes the nurse had carried out the modification of milk in, an accurate and systematic way where artificial feeding was indispensable. This was rendered possible by the public-spirited co-operation of the Taieri and Peninsula Dairy Company.

Foundation of Baby Hospital and "Our Babies" Column. Almost immediately after the formation of the Society for the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children, as it was then called, the Karitane Hospital was started in a small seaside cottage, and the weekly "Our Babies" Column, which has appeared; regularly ever since, was first published in the Otago Witness.

Formation of Branches.
A few months later, a branch Society was founded in Christchurch. Their Excellencies Lord and Lady Plunket became greatly interested in the work, and the Governor issued a small pamphlet setting forth the necessity for such a mission, and appealing to all classes to join the Society: "For the sake of the women and children, for the advancement of the Dominion, and for the honor of the Empire." Lady Plunket threw herself wholeheartedly into the work, showing her intense interest by lecturing, demonstrating, and personally helping the mothers and babies. Her Excellency was instrumental in founding all the original branches of the Society in the North Island—namely, Wellington, Auckland, Napier, and New Plymouth. Later, Timaru and Invercargill formed branches, making eight in all — four in the North Island and four in the South Island.

Gift of Karitane Harris Hospital. Meantime the Karitane Hospital had been moved to a house and grounds at Anderson's Bay which the Society rented. Three years ago through the generosity of Mr Wolf Harris, of London, the hospital and grounds became your property. This munificent gift added greatly to the usefulness of the Society, and your committee was able to extend the buildings, thus providing accommodation for nursing mothers with their babies and also room for a larger number of nurses for training.

The Society's little book, entitled "What Baby Needs"

Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, Volume V, Issue 4, October 1912, Page 145
Nurse Bowie., of the Timaru Hospital, is now Plunket Nurse in Timaru.

Dominion, 21 December 1914, Page 2
Nurse E. J. Cameron has been appointed Plunket nurse for Timaru and district, in the place of Nurse Bowie, who is going to Europe to join the field nursing staff. Nurse Cameron (says the "Post") goes direct from, the Karitane-Harris Hospital, Dunedin, and has excellent credentials from both New Zealand and Australia.

Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, Volume XVIII, Issue 1, January 1925, Page 36 Plunket
Hastings. Nurse E. Aitken was appointed to Featherston Greytown and Martinborough districts, succeeding Nurse Gillespie who was appointed to Timaru.

Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, Volume XV, Issue 3, July 1926, Page 110
Karitane-Harris Hospital, Dunedin. Nurse B. Gillespie, formerly Plunket Nurse at Timaru, has been appointed Sister.

Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, Volume XXII, Issue 1, January 1929, Page 18
A Refresher Course for Plunket Nurses was held at the Plunket Training Centre, Karitane-Harris Hospital, Dunedin, from November 19th to 30th. The following nurses attended the course: — Mrs. O. Dunlop, from Timaru...

Marlborough Express, 30 April 1913, Page 3
Besides the above centres, where Plunket nurses are already at work: branches of the Society have, been formed at Geraldine, Temuka.

Marlborough Express, 30 April 1913, Page 3
Besides the above centres, where Plunket nurses are already at work: branches of the Society have, been formed at Geraldine, Temuka.

Northern Advocate 8 July 1914, Page 4 Addresses of Plunket Nurses and Secretaries. 
Timaru. — Plunket Nurse Bowie. Office of the Society, Sophia Street. Tel. 314. Office hours, 3.30 to 4.30 p.m.; Saturday, 2.30 to 4 p.m. Hon. Secretary, Mr Ernest Howden.

Evening Post, 24 February 1917, Page 7
Officers were elected as follow :—General presidents, Dr. and Mrs. Truby King; president, Mrs Carr; vice-presidents. President of the Timaru Branch Mrs Elworthy.

Press, 4 January 1918, Page 3
The Milford Lagoon Association's annual picnic was held on Now Year's Day, and was patronised by about 1000 people. Nurse Cameron (Plunket nurse) had a tent for mothers on the ground, and was active all day in explaining the Society's methods and giving advice. Sports, a baby show, and other forms of amusement, helped to was the time pleasantly. The Temuka Pine Band played several selections. The takings amounted to over £150.

Marlborough Express, 8 September 1920, Page 6
OUR BABIES By Hygeia, Published under the auspices of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children. "It is wiser to put a fence at the top of a precipice than to maintain an ambulance at the bottom." Addresses of Plunket Nurses and Secretaries.
Timaru.— Plunket Nurse Cameron and Assistant Nurse Annetts, "Bella Mona," Bank Street. Office of the Society, Sophia Street. Hon. secretary, Mr Gavin Moffat; Box 136.
Waimate. — Plunket Nurse McKee. Office, National Mortgage Buildings, Queen Street. Hon. secretary, Mrs Collis.

Grey River Argus 18 October 1920, Page 3 MR BURNETT'S GENEROSITY.
Dunedin, October 15. The following letter from Mr T. D. Burnett, M.P. for Temuka, was read at the Plunket Society's meeting:— "Beginning from mid-December next, I propose paying to the Plunket Society's secretary at each of the subcentres at Temuka, Geraldine, Fairlie, Pleasant Point, and Mayfield, £10 every; three months, conditional on each of these centres contributing 25 per cent, of their revenue towards the upkeep of the running expenses of the society's car, or cars, running between Timaru and Mayfield, back to Fairlie." Mr Burnett offers this financial help for two years, the amount of his gift being £200 a year. 

Hawera & Normanby Star, 3 April 1924, Page 4
"I say advisedly," declared Dr. Truby King, "there is no newspaper press in the world that so generous as the press of New Zealand in dealing with any matters in which the editors personally believe. The Plunket Society has never had any trouble in that respect in this country. We have had the unqualified backing of the newspapers or we could never have carried out the work that has been done."

Plunket Rooms - Temuka

Behind the former Temuka Library is the small brick section of the library constructed to house the Plunket Rooms and Ladies Rest Rooms. In 2001 the entire complex was sold into private ownership, now a private residence. Architect: Turnbull and Rice. [James S. Turnbull (1864 - 1947) Percy Watts Rule] Builder: A. Kennedy. The foundation stone was laid on 25th June 1926 and on 14th Feb. 1927 the building was formally opened free of debt and no assistance from the late Andrew Carnegie foundation. T.D. Burnett promised a £500 donation and further funds came from the local government, the Plunket Society, the W.C.T.U and other citizens. The library served the community until 1997.

Plunket Rooms, Temuka, behind the former library. 2004 photo.

This stone was laid by T.D. Burnett, Esq., M.P. 24th June 1926. C.B. Cartwright, Esq. Mayor.

Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, January 1924, Page 43
Nurse N. Johnstone has been appointed Fairlie  

Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, January 1926, Page 25
The following Plunket Nurses were appointed to new branches opened up recently
Nurse Jessie Rogerson was appointed to Geraldine District.

Auckland Star 31 July 1926, Page 15
Wellington, Friday. The Dominion conference of the Plunket Society has concluded. It was resolved to draw the attention of the Government to the necessity of action being taken in reference to the injurious effects on children attending picture shows. Sir Truby King said no stone would be left unturned by the executive to get some practical step taken. Mrs. Johnstone said a new mothercraft home would shortly be opened at Invercargill. The following officers were elected:— Central Council general presidents, Sir Truby King and Lady King; president, Mrs. Johnstone; vice-presidents, Dame Christina Massey, Lady Hosking, Mesdames McGeorge (Dunedin), Parkes (Auckland), Maclean (Napier), Mrs. J.T. Newman (Timaru), Pearce (Invercargill); committee, Mesdames McDiarmid (New Plymouth), Armitage (Temuka), Coombes (Palmerston North), Rattray, Sidey, McGeorge, Moore, Cunningham (Dunedin), Williams (Hastings), Buchanan (Nelson); administrative secretary, Miss G. Hoddinott.  

To weigh a baby in the 1950s -1960s the Plunket nurse laid the baby on the mother's napkin, put a strong safety pin in through all corners, and made it into a sling, put the hook from the spring scales under the pin. The mother took the baby to the rooms at 3, 6 and 9 months, 1 year, and there after each year until they were 5 years

Karitane Nurses Truby King Mothercraft

Karitane nurses

Evening Post, 23 February 1927, Page 8
The Karitane Hospital which will be opened on 7th March by the Duchess of York is the first place ever built specially for the work of training Plunket and Karitane nurses and the treatment of mothers and babies; it is the world's first Karitane, its predecessors being all adapted buildings.

Karitane nurses were not registered nurses but Plunket nurses were. Mary Stewart, sister to Rachel, became one of the first Karitane Nurse in 1909. They learned skills in baby care and often went on to become nannies in private homes. The training was valuable to the trainees and their friends when they subsequently married and had children of their own. All Karitane Hospitals closed in the late seventies.

The last class in Christchurch was in 1978-79. It was designed to be an eighteen month course, with 12 of those at the hospital and then 6 months out in the community. We lived in at the hospital for the first 12 months, and then lived at home for the community section, though some girls who lived too far away actually stayed at the hospital the whole time. My class was the last class before the Karitane Hospital closed for good, so we didn’t actually end up doing the full 18 months but this was how it was for the previous groups of girls.

The hospital side of it consisted of mostly hands on practical work in the hospital itself with some theory as well, we had lectures from eminent Christchurch Paediatricians. The hospital was split into 4 wards – 3 for premature and very new (under 6 weeks) babies and a general ward for slightly older babies, there were also a couple of isolation rooms for sick babies that needed to be kept apart. Then there was a separate building for toddlers and finally another building where mothers who were having difficulties i.e. breastfeeding problems, could come and stay for several days and receive help and care.

We spent rostered time in each part of the hospital both handling the babies but also doing general care, we spent time in the ‘sluice’ room, scrubbing nappies and sterilising buckets, we spent time in the laundry boiling and washing nappies in the copper as well as all other laundry associated with the care of babies. We had time in the dairy making formula and sterilising bottles and teats. We were required to do night duty which comprised mostly of just feeding babies but also a stint in the dreaded ‘sluice room’. In the toddler section we were required to cook appropriately nutritious meals age appropriate, bath, entertain and get the children to bed, as well as clean. In the mothers part we provided support for the mother and infant usually cooked morning and afternoon tea, played with siblings and anything else that was appropriate for the situation. We could take children for walks on nice days. We were expected to make small toys for various age groups. The community work provided us with experience in private homes, childcare facilities like crèches and kindergartens as well as at, what was, IHC or crippled children. Personally I went to IHC, University crèche, and a local kindergarten.

The uniform comprised of a pale blue dress, a white stiffened hat and a navy blue short woollen cape, we wore brown stockings and shoes. The staff comprised of a matron, sisters and staff nurses though the numbers of these dropped a lot with the closure imminent. It was a fun place to be for girls who had just left high school, we were away from our parents, we were old enough to go out partying, there was a swimming pool in the summer, and we could go out shopping together or go home for weekends off. The work was not hard; the babies were always popular, with everyone having their favourites. I nannied for a few years after my training but we were very poorly paid in those days, so eventually looked for better employment opportunities. So yes I really enjoyed the whole experience, I guess you would have to say that when I became a new Mum with my own children I already had a lot of skills so wasn’t a nervous new mum.
  Posted 19 July 2012 Michelle R. CHCH  Nurses Home

Both girls are looking a bit tired in 1937/38. Lorna on the right. Enid, on the left, trained for 16 months in CHCH and nursed privately around CHCH until 1947 then moved to Middle Valley, Fairlie to look after three children.

Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, April 1927, Page 98
Plunket nurses have taken up work with the Royal Society for the Health of Women and Children as follows: Miss H. Allan, Temuka.
Resignations: Miss J. Cameron, from Temuka, on account of her approaching marriage.

Colonist, 20 May 1919, Page 3
Plunket Nurse McKee, of Waimate, is visiting Tasman, and is staying., with her father, Mr A. McKee, at The Bluffs.

Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, July 1929, Page 139
Miss Johnstone, formerly Plunket Nurse at Fairlie for five years, was appointed to Thames to fill the vacancy caused by Miss Perrin's resignation.
Miss McKee, formerly Plunket Nurse at Waimate for twelve years, has now been appointed Plunket Nurse at Featherston.  

Auckland Star, 5 February 1936, Page 12 BEQUESTS MADE.
Tuesday. Under the will of the late Miss Margaret Wilson, of Timaru, whose estate for probate was sworn at £25,000, public bequests totalling- £2700 are made to religious and philanthropic organisations. The public bequests were:— New Zealand Presbyterian Church, £500; Home Mission Fund of the Presbyterian Church, £300; Women's Beneficiary Fund of the Presbyterian Church, £500; Salvation Army in South Canterbury, £200; Plunket Society, Timaru and Fairlie, £200; Young Women's Christian Association, Timaru, £1000. Under the will the trustees are empowered to create a residuary trust from the balance of the estate to endow a rest home for adults, to be known as the Margaret Wilson Home, in South Canterbury.

Evening Post, 8 May 1937, Page 18
The Plunket' Society's branch in Temuka compared, favourably with those in the centres she had visited, Miss Adamson thought The rooms were adequate, without being elaborate, and in Miss Brown the branch had a nurse who inspired a woman's confidence.

Evening Post, 3 April 1940, Page 15 Women's Community Centre
Timaru, April 2, The Timaru Centennial celebrations continued today, when the Women's Community Centre, which is to be the Centennial Memorial on behalf of the Timaru Borough and the Levels County, was officially opened by the Mayor, Mr. W. G. Tweedy. The building, which cost nearly £5000, is a fine structure and will serve the needs of women in many directions. Provision is made for rest rooms, a meeting room for various organisations, a children's creche, and Plunket rooms.
    A second function took the form of a presentation of Centennial ribbons to residents of the Dominion of 75 years and over. The number of ribbons presented exceeded 100. 

Auckland Star, 16 December 1941, Page 4
Timaru, Monday. The estate of the late Mr. T.B. Garrick, a former chairman of the Levels County Council, has been sworn at under £150,000. A fifth of the estate is to be devoted to paying following public bequests:
Plunket Society, Timaru £1000 as a memorial, of the work done for the Society by his late sister, Mrs. M. M. Newman
£1000 to British Empire Cancer Research Fund
£5000 to the South Canterbury Hospital Board for capital expenditure.
The balance of the fifth share is to go toward such charitable objects as are decided on by the trustees.

The earliest Plunket nurse donned a long gown, full white apron, stiff cap and veil, and looked a little like Florence Nightingale. Her skirt and veil grew steadily shorter until by the 1930s, she appeared more like a hospital nurse wrote Rhonda Bartle


Grey River Argus 14 September 1911, Page 5
The death occurred to-day of Mrs King, relict of Thomas King, one of the first settlers and mother of Mr Newton King and Dr. Truby King, aged 93 years.

Auckland Star, 15 January 1927, Page 13.
Wellington, this day. The death has occurred of Lady King, wife of Sir Truby King. She had been in bad health for some time and about ten days ago had a stroke so that her end was not unexpected. She was well enough, however, to enjoy the return of her daughter, Mary, after a trip overseas. She was the daughter of Adam Miller, of Edinburgh. Her work as a hygiene and Plunket writer has been a guide and help to thousands. She was of great assistance to her husband. The loss is a national one.

Evening Post, 28 April 1893, Page 3
Death of a Taranaki Pioneer. New Plymouth, This Day. Mr. Thomas King, Chairman of the Harbour Board, died at 4 o'clock this morning, aged 73 years. He was one of the first settlers, arriving here in the William Bryant in 1841. He was elected a member of the House of Representatives in 1854 and 1860, and held the position of Treasurer in the Provincial Council ; and was manager of the Bank of New Zealand here for 10 years. He leaves a widow, besides three sons and a daughter — Dr. Truby King, of the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, Mr. Newton King, auctioneer here, Mr. Henry King, and Mrs. F.W. Marchant, of Timaru. Deceased had been very infirm for some time.

Hawera & Normanby Star, 12 September 1911, Page 4
The death occurred yesterday at New Plymouth (reports the Taranaki News) of Mrs King, at the ripe age of 93 years. The deceased lady came to New Plymouth in the ship Amelia Thompson in 1842. The late Mr King was the first manager of the Bank of New Zealand in New Plymouth, and he afterwards farmed successfully at Mangorei. Mrs King was one of our most respected 'settlers and enjoyed the respect and esteem of all. Dr Truby King, Messrs Newton King, and Henry King, and Mrs F. W Marchant (of Timaru) comprise her family. Mrs King was a sister of the late Mr Richard Chilman, and aunt of the late Mrs T. Wilson.

Their adopted daughter Mary

Birth 1904/23 Esther Loreena Gordon King to Isabella Cockburn and Frederick Truby KING. Esther was adopted and became known as Mary KING. see In a Strange Garden: The Life and Times of Truby King Chapter 9 by Lloyd Chapman. Penguin Books, 2003. 

At the time when Truby and Bella King took Mary in they were not satisfied with the child's progress and Bella asked her husband to design a better feeding formula for her. Truby turned his attention to the feeding and care of human infants and the eventual result was the formal training of nurses in maternal and infant welfare, the opening of local clinics, the founding of a string of Karitane hospitals, and the development of commercial infant formulae for babies that could not be breast fed, manufactured by the Karitane Products Society Ltd. After her mother died in 1927, Mary took over as her father's mainstay and secretary. In 1930, at the age of 26, she moved to Australia on Plunket Society business and stayed there. Mary Truby King helped to establish the Australian Mothercraft Society and the Karitane Products Society in Australia so indirectly had an enormous influence on the way infants were raised throughout the 20th century in Australia and internationally. At around the same time she was broadcasting a weekly program on in Sydney. From 1930 to 1934 Mary penned a regular column for The Australian Women's Mirror under the by-line 'A Mothercraft Nurse'.  In 1934, with her father's help, Mary Truby King wrote a book called 'Mothercraft'. It was published internationally by Whitcombe & Tombs and ran to at least 16 printings.  Her regular Wednesday morning talk with Matron McLean from NZ continued from 1932 to 1942. In 1945 Mary married Tony White and settled into family life in South Australia. Mary White died in April 2002 aged 98 years. Obit. obit.

A large vintage woven cane pram painted cream. The lining is painted fabric possibly rexine.

Sir Truby King received a knighthood for his outstanding contribution to society in 1925. He passed away in 1938, aged 79, and was the first private citizen to be given a state funeral. Dr King's first mothercraft manual, Feeding and Care of Baby written in 1913. In 1916 he wrote The Expectant Mother and Baby's First Months and these were given to every applicant for a marriage licence.

 A Voice for Mothers: The Plunket Society and Infant Welfare, 1907-2000 By Linda Bryder
Motherhood and the 'Plunket Book ' A Social History by Jillian M. Clendon 2009
The Role of Karitane Nurses 1960 - 1979
Lesley Courtney a Christchurch-trained Karitane, and wrote a thesis for her History MA  

A Suitable Job for Young Ladies by Joyce Powell. The Karitane Story 1907 - 2007. 2007, 108 pages pb Karitane nurses have a history of service to families and the community, both in New Zealand and overseas. Many worked in the nurseries of public and private hospitals and in neo-natal units with premature babies. During WWII and its aftermath, some carried on the tradition of helping others in a different type of work overseas with the armed forces. Today they work in Family Centres and form part of a team with Plunket nurses working in the community. In spite of their contribution to the health and welfare of families little has been written about their day-to-day work and the challenges they faced while casing in homes here and overseas. Joyce Powell, author of Plunket Pioneers (Recollections of Plunket Nurses from 1940 to 2000), now tells the history of Karitane nurses, a career that was seen by parents in the early twentieth century as being "A suitable job for young ladies".  Joyce Powell, RGN, RMN, Plunket Cert, BA History, Auckland

I was a Plunket baby by Jim Sullivan, 2007 Random House New Zealand. 224 pgs
The first hundred years of the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, from 1907 when the infant death rate was appallingly high through to 2007. Along the way skirmishes with the Department of Health, the politicians and even, in the early days, the medical profession, have all been part of Plunket's battleground. Through all this, Plunket has readily adapted to the need for change and nurses and volunteers have continued to care for over 90% of New Zealand infants. Plunket volunteers have created an organisation in which nurses and mothers are the controllers of their own destiny and a legacy for all New Zealanders, almost all of whom can make the claim, "I was a Plunket baby!"
    100 years of changes, rapidly adapting to the need for change, Plunket history has been shaped by people of New Zealand. Celebration and acknowledgement of the contribution made by thousands of people. Foundation of Plunket success is the special relationship and trust the Plunket nurse develops with the parents. Community support provided by volunteer network and passion and commitment generated because Plunket is community owned and community driven organisation.

Rear window sticker reads Hervey Motors - GM  
South Canterbury Plunket babies through the decades from 1960 to 1988 with their hand knitted cardigans.

Sherwood 1558 
The same pushchair used year after year for all the children in the family.

Plunket clinics are still deeply rooted in the communities, the society's volunteer networks and well child care and support services continue to play a vital role in the lives of young families. 
Baby Record     Postmark and stamp     photos    

Baby Record book 1960. Why did mothers hold on to their babies Plunket books? Because it was a baby record book something to treasure, had photos in it, to pass down etc.


PLUNKET - the very word is a New Zealand icon, a word familiar to all New Zealanders.

MR - numbers speak loudly - improvement you can measure - improvement never stops.
A declining birth rate from the 1870s meant smaller families and more time available for baby care, which contributed to a decline in

Infant mortality is often used as a barometer of the social wellbeing of a country. We can do better. In the post neonatal period (29–364 days) sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) and congenital anomalies make the greatest contribution thus any interventions aimed at reducing New Zealand’s infant mortality rates must be based on an understanding of their component causes. There were 60,860 live births registered in NZ in the year ended March 2012, down 2,323 from the March 2011 year. During the March 2012 year, the number of infant deaths (under one year of age) registered in New Zealand was 277. In 2012, the infant mortality rate (infant deaths per 1,000 live births) was 4.6 per 1,000, down from 5.4 in 2002.

Average UN data Infant mortality (deaths/1,000 live births)  2011 data
Rank 1st Singapore 2.6 ; 3rd Japan 3.14; 19th Australia 5.01; 24th Canada 5.30; 25th UK 5.38 ; 29th NZ 5.59 - 2012 estimated rank 39th 4.72; 34th USA 7.07 -2012 estimated rank 49th 5.98 

The most loving act a mother can do is to nurse her baby. Nothing can ever replace the milk and heart of a mother.


The Press 12 November 1929
Mrs E.C. Studholme presided over the monthly meeting of the Committee of the Waimate Plunket Society. The Plunket nurse (Miss Austin) reported that during the month there were 537 cases under supervision, and she had visited 150 homes, while there had been 199 visits to the Plunket rooms.


Press, 28 May 1912, Page 5
Largely owing to the generosity of a number of town and country residents who liberally subscribed for the object, a well-equipped Cottage Hospital was opened in Geraldine on Saturday. The trustees purchased a large dwelling-house, and by additions and alterations the building was converted into an up-to-date nursing home. At present there are separate rooms for eight patients, and, in addition, a dining room, sitting room, and rooms for the nurses, with a large kitchen and bathroom. A broad verandah enclosed by glass, faces the north, on to which patients may be wheeled for fresh air and sunshine. The operating room is a semi-detached building, containing an operating table and all necessary equipment. It is lighted on two sides by large windows, and has an entrance by which accident cases may be admitted direct. The institution will be known as the Geraldine County Nursing Home, and at present is under the management of Nurse Broad, late of Wellington, assisted by Nurse Doud but Nurse Warnock, on completely recovering from a recent indisposition, will take charge. It is understood that the intention is to make the home of special advantage in maternity cases, and a Plunket cot and bed have been installed in one room.

Wairarapa Daily Times, 21 November 1913, Page 5
Miss S. H. Warnock, who has been appointed district nurse for South Wairarapa, is a fully qualified medical, surgical, Plunket and midwifery nurse, passed examinations at the Christchurch, Karitane, Dunedin, and St. Helens (Wellington) hospitals. She held the position of Plunket nurse for New Plymouth in 1909 and then went to the St. Helens Hospital. At the latter hospital she qualified in midwifery, training top marks for New Zealand. In 1910 she was appointed by the Hospitals Department to the position of district nurse for the Seddon district in Marlborough. Afterwards returning to St. Helens Hospital as sub-matron, and for seven months was acting matron there. Until recently Miss Warnock held the position of matron of the country Nursing Home at Geraldine. Miss Warnock holds splendid testimonials from medical officers, matrons of hospitals, etc. She will take up her duties about the middle of December, and will be stationed at the Greytown Hospital.

Press, 17 March 1915, Page 5
Nurse Downer, who has been in charge of the County Nursing-Home, has offered her services at the front, and left Geraldine yesterday on her way to Europe. Before her departure the members of the Geraldine Croquet Club gave Nurse Downer an afternoon, and Mrs Paterson made her a presentation of a travelling-bag. [Nurse Louise Downer did sail but she did not go as a member of the NZANS. She served in the QAIMNSR until 1919. She came out from UK in 1909 then when she left here in 1915. She served in Serbia before joining the QAs.]


At no. 3A Karitane Drive, was a house in on the lower Port Hills, Christchurch, constructed in 1925 by the Karitane Society to house expectant and new mothers and their babies, was demolished after the 2011 earthquake. The house was located in the suburb of Cashmere, above the Heathcote River, and faced the sun, the City of Christchurch and the snow-capped hills. The brick Karitane building was designed to admit natural light and fresh air. Each room enjoyed large operating sash windows and most rooms also enjoyed sash doors - each of these leading out onto covered verandas. Had six bedrooms when demolished on an impressive property.  When the house was constructed there were Plunket rooms were in the suburbs of New Brighton, Fendalton and Woolston and elsewhere.

Nurse Lucy Ann Bowie (1880-1961)

Service in QA 1915-Dec 1917
Service NZANS Oct 1918 - 1920

Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, Volume V, Issue 4, October 1912, Page 145
Nurse Bowie., of the Timaru Hospital, is now Plunket Nurse in Timaru.

Otago Daily Times 27 November 1914, Page 6
Nurse L. Bowie (Plunket Nurse) and Nurse Blackmore, of Timaru, are going to the Continent early in January to offer their services as Red Cross nurses at the front (says the Herald). Nurse Bowie has resigned her position as nurse to the Plunket Society, and both the nurses are travelling Home at their own expense. It is understood that two other nurses in Timaru intend making the trip about the same time, and with the some object of offering their services in London hospitals.

Press, 11 February 1915, Page 2 NEW ZEALAND NURSES AT THE FRONT.
Among the New Zealand nurses who are either at the front or have gone Home to offer their services are the following, whose names are given in the nurses' journal, "Kai Tiaki." Some have already been mentioned, but there are others whose names will be new to readers:—  Miss Margaret Nixon, Timaru: Miss Bowie, Timaru; Miss Blackmore and Miss Eleanor Brown (Dunedin), all left in the Somerset in January to offer their services.

Colonist, 13 January 1915, Page 4
Several nurses will be passengers for London by the steamer Somerset. They are paying their own expanses, and go with the idea of being able to gain some experience at the front. They include Nurses Nixon and Holmes, of Christchurch, and Nurses Bowie, Blackmore and Brown, of Timaru.

Otago Daily Times 26 January 1915, Page 4
The following passengers left Wellington on Saturday by the steamer Somerset for London: — Misses E. Blackmore, L. Bowie, E. L. Brown, Dalgairns, G. Faulke, M. Gillett, M. Holmes, E. Irvin, M. Nixon, Mesdames T Allen, Bennett, Bentley, R. A. Dale, Fleming, Stuart, Messrs G. W. Bennett, T. Bentley, C. Birch, G. Coldham, J. D. Fleming, P. W. Steuart.

Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, 22 June 1915, Page 3 LETTER FROM A NURSE
A letter arrived in Timaru this week from Nurse Blackmore stated that from London the Imperial authorities had sent Nurses Bowie, Nixon, Brown and the writer to Egypt, where they now busily engaged in 'The Citadel," at Cairo. 

Evening Post, 1 December 1915, Page 9
Nurse Bowie, formerly Plunket Nurse at, Timaru, who was one of the first to leave for service abroad, and has lately been seriously ill at Cairo with typhoid fever, has been invalided home, and is now on her way back to New Zealand.

Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, Volume IX, Issue 2, April 1916, Page 117
Sister Lucy Bowie, of Timaru, who went to England on the outbreak of war and offered her services, which were accepted on the Q.A.T.U. - U.S.R., has been in New Zealand since December. She was invalided out after enteric contracted at the Suez Hospital, and was just about to return when she was informed by cable that the term of her contract to serve for twelve months having expired, and there being too many nurses then in Egypt, her services were no longer are required. A later cable, however, from the War Office, has requested the New Zealand Government to send her back to Egypt first class by Transport, and that she will receive pay and allowances for the full term of her absence, provided she will undertake to serve for another twelve months. This, of course, she is delighted to do and is going on transport immediately.

Press, 7 February 1918, Page 6
The Press Association advises that a steamer with a draft of 104 men. from the Zealand Forces in Palestine has arrived at a New Zealand port. Most of the men belong to Auckland. NURSES.
Bowie, Lucy, Staff nurse (Mr Bowie, Temuka).
Groensill, Florence Lilian, Staff nurse (Miss E K Greensill, Market street. Picton).
Kittelty Mabel Eliza Jane, Staff nurse (Mrs E. Kittelty, Eglinton avenue Mt. Eden, Auckland).
Sutherland, Hugha, Staff nurse (Mrs J. D. Sutherland, Waipu, North Auckland).

Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, Volume XI, Issue 4, October 1918, Page 213
Sister Lucy Bowie, who was a member of the Q.A.I.M.N.S.R. from 1915 to 1918, has now been enrolled on the N.Z.A.N.S. and is posted for duty at Rotorua.

Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, Volume XV, Issue 2, April 1922, Page 93
Sister Lucy Bowie has also resigned, on account of her approaching marriage.

Lucy Mary married Charles Edward Shallcross in 1935

Emma Jane Blackmore was in the QAs only and was from Timaru and the date on the letter matches Egypt timeline. The other two were Margaret NIXON not Dixon and Eleanor Brown.

Press, 8 July 1915, Page 8 AT CAIRO HOSPITAL. LETTER FROM A Nurse.
Nurse Blackmore, one of the first four nurses who left Timaru and went Home on their own account to offer their services to the Imperial Government, and who were sent from London to the Citadel Hospital at Cairo, writing to a relative in Timaru. says: "We are all well and happy. We like our work, and are pleased to be here. Wounded men are coming in and going out all the time, and we see some terrible sights. It Is simply wonderful how the sharp-pointed bullets go through their heads, or necks, or through the bone of the arm or leg without injuring the men more than they do. The Tommies tell me that the Turks have found this out. and are now changing the bullets round be that the flat end will strike the body and make a bigger wound. The explosives they use play up horribly with, some of them.
    "Yesterday I had a visit from the Rev. J.R. Sullivan, of Timaru. He was shot in the mouth and neck, and it has affected his speech; he can only speak in a whisper. He knows everyone who’s on the casualty list, and it is a pleasure to have chat with him. Last Sunday I went to Luna Park Hospital to see a Timaru boy Private Fairbrother. He was wounded in the foot, but is getting on well now. He has a great admiration for the Rev. Mr Sullivan, and says the boys all felt the same towards him from the time they were first associated with him on the boat. "We hear comparatively little war news here, but it is very interesting to hear the tale the wounded tell us. I only wish we had more time to listen to them. They are all so patient, and most of them are keen to get back to the Dardanelles to "get their own Back from the Turks, as they say."

Dominion, 23 December 1915, Page 2 Work In the Hospitals.
Sister Bowie, of Seadown, formerly Plunket Nurse at Timaru, returned by the Maunganui from Egypt on sick leave (states the "Evening News"). Sister Bowie left with Sisters Nixon (Christchurch), Brown (Timaru), and Blackmore (Timaru), early in the war, before nurses were being sent from Now Zealand. They paid their own passages to London, where they were engaged by the Imperial Government and sent to Egypt, being the first New Zealand nurses to do service for the troops there. Sister Bowie says the work was very hard at first, the nurses being on duty from 6 a.m. till 10 p.m. every day, and even then it was impossible to attend to many of many patients as they ought to have been attended to. After keeping on with the work for some months her health ran down, and when nursing typhoid patients she caught the disease herself. Nurse Bowie, is looking forward to the time when she will be allowed to return to Egypt, two months hence.

Lucy Mary Bowie qualified as a registered nurse in 1910 and was with Plunket 1913-1914. She left NZ on The Somerset, in February 1915 and joined the QAIMNSR. The Federal Shire liner s.s. Somerset, 7272 tons, departed Wellington  23rd January arrived in London March 8th 1915 with gifts from Canterbury for the Belgians- 6 cases clothing and 1 bale clothing and 9 crates rabbits. SLucy came home on as a temporary attachment, e.g. worked her way home aboard the HMTS98 Tofua in Dec. 1917 to NZ then tried to get back into the QAs if they needed her but war ended so she did not return.  She had come home to NZ because her mother had died and had stayed to be with her younger sister. She offered her services again but she never went back or served again. She joined the New Zealand Army Nursing Service Corps, 22/563 as a staff nurse and was attested October 1 1918. She died in 1961.

Lucy Mary Regun and William Bowie married in 1875. Children:
1876 Bowie James
1879 Bowie Jessie Wallace
1880 Bowie Lucy Mary                   [m. Charles Edward Shallcross in 1935]
1882 Bowie James Wallace
1884 Bowie Agnes McRaith          [Agnes McCreith Bowie m. Herbert Roche in 1922]
1885 Bowie Wallis

Lucy Mary Bowie died 20 Sept. 1917, aged 59. Is buried in the Temuka Cemetery. Address: Seadown.

Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, Volume XV, Issue 2, April 1922, Page 93
Sister Lucy Bowie has also resigned, on account of her approaching marriage.

  Image courtesy of Ann M., Timaru, May 2013

Lying babies in the first year of their life on adult pillows is a hazard and also bed sharing is potentially unsafe. Authors of a recent article in the New Zealand Medical Journal estimated 3000 cot deaths had been prevented in this country, after changes to recommendations about babies' sleeping positions. The number of cases of SIDS annually had declined from 219 in 1985 to 50 in 2011.

In 2017 Plunket is changing with the times. All Plunket records are kept on tablets, not in books. About 600 babies are born each year in South Canterbury, of which 40-50 are in the greater Waimate area. Saturday clinics are held in larger towns. Home visit still happen but vary. Plunket nurses look after babies as well as the welfare of family. A sick baby or mother would receive extra home visits. Plunket operates a popular free national help line 24/7. 

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project  - "I was a Plunket baby."