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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.




The New Zealand Foundation for the Blind

Founded in 1890 at Auckland, the New Zealand Foundation for the Blind has as its purpose the well-being of blind persons of all ages, and aims to teach them not only to tolerate their affliction but also to rise superior to it.

The services provided by the Foundation include the following:

  1. Accommodation for blind persons of all ages. The Sunrise Home accepts blind babies and young children up to the age of seven years. The children are given kindergarten and pre-school training. Other homes are Bledisloe House for elderly blind men and the Hutchinson Home for elderly blind women.

  2. Education. The Foundation has a residential primary school, from which selected pupils are able to proceed to ordinary secondary schools. Those not able to do so are transferred to trade training in the workshops. Some blind children even go on to the University, and obtain degrees in arts, law, and music. The Foundation has a Music Department, and maintains its own brass band.

  3. Library Services. The library has books in Braille and Moon script and talking books, which are issued on loan to blind subscribers.

  4. Trade Training and Employment. The Foundation has its own workshops, and provides hostel accommodation for blind employees.

  5. Welfare Activities Including Occupational Therapy, Social Clubs, and Hobbies. These activities come within the scope of morale builders, particularly for the large group of blind persons over the age of 50. The blind are helped to help themselves, to accept their disability, and to rise above it.

The Foundation relies on the generous support of the public and is subsidised by the Government.

The Cancer Society of New Zealand (Inc.)

The New Zealand branch of the British Empire Cancer Campaign Society was formed in 1929, and soon received sufficient financial support from the public to enable it to undertake a programme of research into the causes of cancer. In January 1964 the Society attained autonomous status under the name of the Cancer Society of New Zealand (Inc.).

In addition to its Executive Committee, the Society functions through six divisions in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Palmerston North, and Hamilton. Each division has a large degree of autonomy and controls its own finances. The financial resources of the branch and of the divisions come from members' subscriptions, donations and bequests, and street-day collections.

The activities of the Society and its divisions include research into the causes and treatment of cancer and the allied diseases; the operation of consultation clinics, either themselves or in cooperation with hospital boards, to which patients can be referred for consultation and diagnosis; and health education to inform the public about cancer and to stress the supreme importance of seeking early medical advice in suspected cases of the disease.

Research, sponsored by the Society, is being undertaken in Dunedin in the Society's research laboratory at the Medical School, at Auckland, and at Christchurch.

The New Zealand Crippled Children Society (Inc.)

The New Zealand Crippled Children Society was founded in 1935, and its aims and objects, expressed briefly, are to see that every crippled child has the earliest possible treatment, followed where necessary with the most effective continuous care; to assist parents to a true understanding of the child's special needs, and to inspire hope and confidence both in parent and in child; to help each crippled child to obtain a sound vocational training, and so take his or her place in the community; and to encourage in employers an attitude favourable to the employment of cripples.

A crippled child is defined as a young person under the age of 21 who, as the result of bodily defect, either congenital or acquired, causing deformity or interference with the normal functions of the bones, muscles, or joints, is handicapped with respect to movement, the performance of work, and/or social adjustment. The main scope of the Society's activities lies in the following fields – orthopaedic disabilities, hare-lip and cleft palate, heart disabilities in marked degree, and crippling neuro-muscular disorders.

The Society has 18 branches in New Zealand, and one in the Cook Islands. Each branch society is autonomous with full control of its own finances. The Society has considerable accumulated funds derived from bequests and donations, and its affairs are controlled by an Executive Council. Each branch society obtains its income from members' subscriptions, from interests on invested funds, from lottery distributions, and from such sources as street collections, rag drives, etc.

The total membership of all the branches at March 1964 was 18,102, and the total income from members' subscriptions for that year was £11,235. In the same year the branches raised some £51,200 through donations, appeals, and special efforts. The total number of cripples registered with the Society at March 1964 was 7,438, of whom 6,071 were children of 15 years and under.

The functional activities of the Society in relation to crippled children are all carried out by the branch societies, and in addition to keeping in touch with each registered child and securing adequate treatment they include the following:

  1. Provision of travelling orthopaedic clinics.

  2. Visits to crippled children in home or hospital.

  3. Making grants where necessary for purchase of surgical footwear, surgical appliances, etc.

  4. Making available on loan tricycles, wheel-chairs, etc.

  5. Organising parties and entertainments, and providing Christmas gifts.

  6. Arranging for occupational training and employment.

  7. Providing transport to and from hospital and for outings.

The New Zealand League for the Hard of Hearing

Although a School for the Deaf was established by the New Zealand Government as early as 1880, a long time was to elapse before anything was done for the hard-of-hearing adults – that is to say, those who are handicapped by impaired hearing in varying degrees. In 1922 the Government established lipreading classes for adults, first in Wellington, and later in the other three main centres, but the work was little known and few people profited by it.

During the years following 1926 a movement started by Mrs G. A. Hurd-Wood, of Hamilton, gained momentum and culminated in the formation, in 1932, of the New Zealand League for the Hard of Hearing. By 1945 the League had 10 branches throughout the Dominion, and by 1960 there were 20 branches and 11 sub-branches. The aims and objects of the League are to help totally or partially deafened adults by encouraging them to realise and face their disability; to assist them to pursue their accustomed means of livelihood with a minimum of inconvenience to their employers, the public, and themselves; to eliminate quackery as it concerns deafness; and to cooperate with the Government in dealing with the prevention of deafness in children.

The League conducts lip-reading classes, and assists deaf people to obtain the full benefit from their hearing aids. It organises social activities and entertainments for the hard of hearing, and fosters “clubs” to provide recreational activities and a spirit of companionship.

The Government assists the League by paying the salaries of their lip-reading tutors.

Health Camp Associations

The originator of health camps was Dr Elizabeth Gunn who, as school medical officer at Wanganui, organised small summer camps for undernourished children in 1919 and the years following. By 1929 public interest had been aroused sufficiently for summer health camps to be held in various localities by voluntary organisations, funds being raised by voluntary subscriptions, supplemented by the sale of health stamps which first appeared in 1929. The first permanent health camp was established at Otaki by the Wellington Children's Health Camp Association. This camp was opened in 1932, and was soon in continuous use, each group of undernourished children spending a minimum of six weeks in the camp. By 1936 so many health camp associations were organising camps that a National Health Camp Federation was formed, and in the following year the King George V Memorial Appeal raised a sum of £176,000 which was devoted to the establishment of five permanent health camps.

This valuable work has continued up to the present time, although, fortunately, the proportion of undernourished children to be provided for is far less than it was when the movement started. The emphasis now is on non-physical disabilities, home difficulties, and children who are not making adequate progress at school.

With the cooperation of the Post Office, health stamps have been placed on sale during the spring of each year, and the resulting proceeds defray much of the cost of operating the camps. Undoubtedly the health camp movement has played a useful role in the campaign against tuberculosis.

The Plunket Society

The Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children, more commonly known as the Plunket Society, is unique in that it was founded for the express purpose of filling a gap in the country's health services, and the success achieved, combined with its strong appeal to the public, has brought Government approval and support, and enabled it to maintain itself as an integral part of our public health services. The Society's founder, Dr (Sir) Truby King, while superintendent of the Seacliff Mental Hospital, became concerned at the avoidable loss of infant life, and he considered that the chief causes of infant mortality were maternal ignorance, the decline in breast feeding, the use of unsuitable artificial foods, and a faulty regimen generally in the nurture and care of infants. In 1905 Truby King began a pioneering campaign of education in baby welfare among the mothers of Dunedin, and at a large public meeting held in Dunedin in 1907 the Society was formed. It received enthusiastic support from the public and the press, and was very greatly assisted by the active personal interest of the Governor and Lady Plunket.

The principal aim of the Society, the education of mothers in the proper feeding and care of their babies, was to be achieved by the establishment of Plunket Rooms throughout the country, staffed by nurses specially trained in all aspects of baby welfare, where advice and assistance were to be made freely available. While the Society's general activities were from the first guided and controlled by a central Council, local branches were formed and given a large degree of autonomy and responsibility, acting under the general advice and guidance of the central Council. Undoubtedly it is this distribution of authority and responsibility that has proved to be the foundation of the Society's strength.

In 1907, also, the first Karitane Hospital was established in Dunedin for the reception and treatment of sick and ill-nourished babies, for whom the ordinary hospitals are unsuitable. It serves also as the training school for Plunket nurses, all of whom are registered nurses seeking post-graduate training in mothercraft. Later, Karitane Hospitals were established in Christchurch, Wanganui, Wellington, Auckland, and Invercargill, and while the training of Plunket nurses is restricted to the Truby King – Harris Karitane Hospital at Dunedin, the other hospitals train Karitane nurses – that is, girls with no previous training who undergo a 20-month course in baby care.

In the year of the Society's foundation, branches were set up in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, and by 1914 twenty branches had been established and 27 Plunket nurses were at work. By 1962 there were 106 branches and about 500 sub-branches, employing 220 Plunket nurses. There are also upwards of 250 mothers' clubs whose members meet regularly for social and educational purposes.

The Society has itself raised the larger portion of its income and its services are free. In recognition of their value, Government subsidies have been made available on an increasing scale. At the present time these amount to approximately £150,000 a year.

The teaching of the Society stresses the supreme importance of breast feeding, and urges the use of humanised milk as a supplement to, and if necessary a substitute for, breast feeding, with proper hygienic precautions in its preparation and handling. As a result of this teaching there has been a marked reduction in the infant deaths from the diarrhoeal diseases which used to be a major cause of infant mortality. In addition to the correct feeding and nurture of the baby, mothers are instructed in the proper clothing of infants and young children, and their protection from avoidable accidents. When children are a little older, the Society cooperates with the Department of Health in arranging for periodic medical examinations. The activities of the Plunket Society have been largely instrumental in reducing the infant deaths that occur between the second and twelfth months inclusive from a rate of about 40 per 1,000 live births in 1908 to the present low figure of less than seven per 1,000.

The Tuberculosis Associations

The Tuberculosis Associations, of which there are 15 throughout the country, came into being in 1945–46. Each Tuberculosis Association is autonomous, but coordination is achieved by the New Zealand Federation of Tuberculosis Associations which operates through an Executive Council.

The purpose of the Tuberculosis Associations, in broad terms, is to work for the comfort and welfare of tuberculous patients and their families, dealing with problems, domestic and otherwise, that are outside the scope of medical treatment. They provide amenities for hospital patients, arrange entertainments, assist with grants for clothing, etc., arrange for Christmas parcels, and in other ways aim to alleviate the boredom and hardship caused by the disease. The associations also disseminate information about tuberculosis among members of the public.

The Tuberculosis Associations derive their income from members' subscriptions, donations, and bequests, lottery grants, and profits from the Christmas Seal campaign.

Blood Transfusion Services

An organised Blood Transfusion Service has come to be regarded as a normal function of every general hospital, but a little over 30 years ago no such service existed, and special arrangements had to be made for any necessary transfusion. The first attempt in New Zealand to organise such a service was made in Wellington in 1928, due to the initiative of the late Sir Fred Bowerbank and Clarence Meachen. The latter was leader of the First Wellington Rover Scout Troop, and 30 members of this troop volunteered as blood donors, and so formed the first association of voluntary blood donors in New Zealand.

The demand for blood increased, and by the end of 1931 there were approximately 100 active donors, and some more comprehensive organisation became necessary. The cooperation of the British Medical Association was sought, and in 1932 the Wellington Blood Transfusion Service was set up with an expert medical committee to guide its activities. Similar blood transfusion services were set up in connection with the other major hospitals throughout the country in the following years. In 1956 the Wellington Blood Transfusion Service was taken over by the Wellington Hospital Board, and has since been operated by the medical staff of the Wellington Hospital. The number of transfusions given in Wellington rose from 367 in 1939–40, and 3,254 in 1949–50, to 4,440 in the year ended 31 March 1956.

by Francis Sydney Maclean M.B., B.CHIR., M.D.(CAMB.), M.R.C.S.(ENG.), L.R.C.P.(LOND.), formerly Director of Public Hygiene, Department of Health.

  • Wellington Hospital Records (MSS.).