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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


GUNN, Elizabeth Catherine, M.B.E.


Director of school hygiene.

A new biography of Gunn, Elizabeth Catherine appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Elizabeth Catherine Gunn was born at Brown Street, Dunedin, on 23 May 1879, the eldest daughter of William Gunn, an ironmonger, and Elizabeth Jane, née Melton. She was educated at Timaru High School, Otago Girls' High School, Edinburgh University, where she gained M.B., Ch.B., and at Dublin. In August 1912 she joined the School Medical Service and was stationed at Wellington until 1915, when she joined the New Zealand Army Medical Corps. In 1919 she was appointed School Medical Officer at Wanganui. Early in that year, while on a visit to B. P. Lethbridge's farm at Turakina, she mentioned the good which could be accomplished if New Zealand children suffering from malnutrition were given regular hours, good food, and an open-air holiday. Lethbridge took up the idea and, in 1919, 50 children attended the first camp which he organised. The camp proved immensely successful and confirmed Dr Gunn's opinions. Similar camps were held annually until about 1930. In the meantime Dr Ada Paterson, the Director of School Hygiene, took up the idea and health camps were soon held in other districts. On 1 April 1938 Elizabeth Gunn succeeded Ada Paterson as Director of School Hygiene and retained this post until her retirement in June 1940. From then till her death on 26 October 1963 she was in private practice in Wellington. In 1951 she was awarded the M.B.E. for her services to the health camp movement. She was unmarried.

by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

  • Wanganui Chronicle, 28 Oct 1963 (Obit).


Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.