Native schools had a strong focus on health. The first opened in the 1860s; by the 1890s, their primary purpose was teaching English and ‘sanitary science’. The importance of ventilation, a healthy diet, hygiene, clean water, and careful choice of building sites were all part of the curriculum. Teachers, often with no medical training, also dispensed medicines. In some areas they were the only source of European medical advice, and in many they provided care during epidemics. Once medical services were set up in the 20th century, native schools’ part in improving health lessened, but the focus persisted. The activities at the Ruatōria native school shown in this 1947 film were typical.
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Archives New Zealand - Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Reference: Weekly Review 324. National Film Unit, 1947
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