Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Rotorua Hospitals, the beginning.

The Government Sanatorium

In the Bay of Plenty Times of 11.3.1884 is written a description of the Sanatorium, opened by Dr Alfred Ginders in December of 1883.

Excerpt: New Township of Rotorua’ (from an occasional correspondent)link to Papers Past.

"The next building of importance is the Hospital, which is enclosed in a large square of about 6 acres. There are 3 large buildings, the principal of which is the refectory, containing a dining hall…kitchen…scullery…pantry… also a large porch and entrance hall, with a dispensary on one side and an office on the other. The front is richly ornamented; there is also a bell tower, and a double massive concrete chimney for the hall and kitchen. There are also two large detached buildings on each side of the hospital, for sleeping accommodation for the patients… these rooms are all well-lit and ventilated, with a large porch, concrete chimney, and the water supply is from Whakarewarewa"

The correspondent describes the luxuriance of the gardens and availability of the staff quarters including the Medical Officers Residence and the Bath-keepers house separate from other accommodations. 

He goes on… ‘A journey round to see the various baths revealed the following: First is the celebrated bath known as Madame Rachel’s (beautiful forever)….the next bath of special interest is that known as the Priest’s bath, so named after Father Mahoney of Tauranga…. ‘A large bath (lately constructed) which can accommodate 100 patients at once’ (“The Blue Bath” see previous blog post on Health Benefits of Rotorua.) This was fed from the Oruawhata Spring.

The Blue Bath, Rotorua, New Zealand, by Burton Brothers studio,
Alfred Burton. Te Papa (C.013437)
In Dr Ginders own words published in the Ellsmere Guardian of 9/5/1896 The Thermal Springs District and the Government Sanatorium at Rotorua.

To read the whole article click on the link above.
A small excerpt:  “The sanatorium reserve at Rotorua comprises an area of some 50 acres, bounded on the north and east by the lake, and on the west and south by the Township of Rotorua. Twelve years ago this was a howling wilderness covered with Manuka scrub, and diversified only by clouds of steam rising from the various hot springs. Here the adventurous invalid of that day had to pitch his tent, and be satisfied with a hole in the ground for a bath; and if the spring happened to be too hot for his purpose he probably had to dig the hole for himself, and regulate the supply and temperature of the water to the best of his hydraulic ability.”

"Regulations and Tariff 1896
1. Applications for admission of persons shall be addressed to the Resident Medical Officer.
2. No person shall be admitted (unless in accordance with Regulations 5, 6 and 7) except on the recommendation of the Hospital or Charitable Aid Board of the district to which he belongs, or the Trustees of the benevolent society or hospital of the town in which he lives."

There are 8 regulations in total. The tariff is set at 21 shillings per week. (in today’s value approx.  $1,388 NZD)  The stay of each patient is limited to 3 months, but the Resident Medical Officer could at his discretion, extend the period to 6 months.  Patients sent by the Charitable Aid Boards could be admitted at one guinea per week, however not more than 3 free patients could be resident at any one time.  If there were empty beds the RMO could admit suitable cases at the rate of 30 shillings per week.

Dr Ginders describes each bath, the colour of the water, its chemical makeup & benefits to the invalid and its location within the reserve.  He also describes two springs or baths at Whakarewarewa.

His lengthy but detailed article also describes the region’s other scenic and thermal attractions. 

Government Sanatorium and Baths at Rotorua, circa 1910.
Ref: 1/1-019914-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23224274

Friday, 26 January 2018

Rotorua : Summer of STEAM, Post # 3 : Our Architecture

Rotorua's Architecture.

Our tallest buildings :

Photograph by Alison Leigh for Kete Rotorua, 2013

  • 1908 The 'Bath House' by Dr Arthur Stanley Wohlmann with help from the Government architect Mr B.S. Corlett, the draughtsman for the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts and Architect Mr J.W. Wrigley.  Built by Mr William E. Hutchinson, Builder and Contractor from Ponsonby, Auckland.  
The 'Bath House' is described as 88 ft. in height to the ridge and has a decorative tower above that.
Over the years since it's opening there have been a number of additions and alterations, 1911 and 1935. In 1957 Cabinet recommended that the building be demolished! Thankfully the Rotorua City Council took it on in 1963 and by 1969 it had been restored to it's former glory. Opening as the Museum in 1969 with Mr Don Stafford as the curator.

Further additions and alterations followed in 1977, 1979, 1982, 2008 & 2009.  The Bath House is currently closed for earthquake strengthening the time frame is not yet decided. For further details click this link  The Bath House

With thanks to 'Tudor Towers - The Rotorua Baths' a thesis by Paul Rewi Bennett c.1984,  and the Rotorua Museum website for the above information.

  • 1914 The new Post Office & Telegraph Office was opened with a spectacular clock tower.
Photograph taken by Alison Leigh on the 2nd Floor of the Library Building 2016.
  • 1958 The new Arawa Trust Building with 2 floors above street level shops.
  • 1962 The Government Buildings in Haupapa Street - The Maori Land Court 3 floors, Minsitry of Works and Social Welfare Building 4 floors and the Government Life Assurance building 3 Floors.
Photograph by Margaret Callaghan for Rotorua Library 1990
  • 1964 The new 304 Shopping complex opened on the SE corner of Pukuatua & Tutanekai Streets with 2 floors above the street level shops.
  • 1964 State Insurance Building
  • 1966 The new Post Office, 5 Floors.
The now Old Post Office Building on Hinemoa Street
Photograph by Alison Leigh for Kete Rotorua 2012.
  • 1970 The Bay Savings Bank building was officially the tallest in Rotorua with 7 floors, then known as Parkes Building, now called the "Hinemoa Tower".
This building was the tallest in Rotorua until the Woodcorp Tower was built in 1987.
  • 1971 Geyser Court our first shopping mall opened, with a mezzanine. 
  • 1972 T & G Building 3 floors above street level shops. 
  • 1983 The Vacation Hotel described as multi-story luxury on the site of the old Brents Hotel.
  • 1987 The new officially tallest building in Rotorua, Woodcorp Tower at 10 floors. Now in 2017 known as the Zen Building, which lies empty awaiting transformation into a luxury hotel. Still officially the tallest building in Rotorua.

Photograph by Alison Leigh for Kete Rotorua 2012.
For more photographs of Rotorua buildings visit Kete Rotorua

Friday, 19 January 2018

Health Benefits of the Spa City, Rotorua

The Hot Springs of the North Island in the 1800's.

The health benefits of the region are well documented in newspaper articles and government reports dating from the late c.1840's onward.  You can read one from the ‘New Zealander’ published 22 August 1846 here on Papers Past.

The early Hotel owners of the day built bath houses exclusively for use by their guests. The following advertisement being for the Rotorua Hotel in 1872.

Latterly they used their location and nearness to the baths to their own advantage as the following advertisement for Stephen Brent’s Temperance Hotel (built in 1884) shows.

With thanks to Papers Past for access to this newspaper.
In the New Zealand Herald of 26th January 1872 an article entitled  “New Zealand Hot Springs” was printed from a ‘correspondent of the ‘Australasian’ (published in Melbourne 30/12/1871)
Excerpt :
“I wish to draw to the attention of those who are afflicted in health to the renovating properties of the mineral springs of the North Island of New Zealand. These springs range from cold to boiling heat (the natives cooking their food in the latter) and are particularly efficacious in cases of rheumatism, cutaneous eruptions, scrofula and indiscretions arising from excess and fast living”
He goes on to write ‘Having derived incalculable benefit from them, I should be ungrateful  were I not to make known their blessings to suffering humanity’

Another writer known as ‘Young Australian’ wrote a series of articles for the The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser  and published on Saturday 27 May 1882 p 836.

The 3rd of which gives the reader an amazing word picture of this region of New Zealand now known as Rotorua.  Part of his description of the area reads:

From Ohinemutu to Sulphur Point is less than a mile, the path leading near the foreshore of Lake Rotorua. The track is sandy, and bordered with tall ti-tree scrub, so that the scenery is not at all enticing; but an examination of the point well repays the task of getting there”.  He goes on to say ‘ We passed through the site chosen for the new Government township of Rotorua;  but unless my judgement is at fault, the Government have been badly advised, as the situation is liable at any time to an outburst from the fiery furnace beneath, whose proximity is only too patent by te heat of the ground’
‘It may be reasonably conjectured that people will have a natural abhorrence to living over a subterranean stew pot’

Prior to European adventures in our steamy region, Maori had already discovered the benefits of living around the hot pools and mud of Ohinemutu and the Kuirau Spring.  Don Stafford writes of the journey of the Arawa tribe to New Zealand and how Ihenga discovered the two lakes which he named Rotoiti and Rotorua, later to be settled by the descendants of Rangitihi.

Maori enjoyed the hot spring they named Manupirua (a famous bath) at the southern end of Lake Rotoiti – as published in the Bay of Plenty Times, 3.6.1876.  Note: This same hot spring can be enjoyed today by all, if you have a boat suitable for taking you across Lake Rotoiti to where a jetty and pools are, for a reasonable price.

By 1873 over at Sulphur Point there were several other ‘pools’ frequented by locals and latterly invalids who came for the benefits of the ‘Priest Bath’, the ‘Coffee-pot’, the ‘Pain-killer’ the ‘Kill or Cure’ the Knock Me Over’ the ‘Laughing Jackass’ the ‘Last Resource’ the ‘Madame Rachel’ the ‘Postmaster’, the ‘Priest’ and others for whom they were named by men who chose to dig themselves their own bath, ‘Cameron’s Bath’, ‘McHugh’s Bath’ and ‘Mackenzie’s Bath’ some of which can be seen in the book by Phil Andrews ‘Government Gardens’.  None of the above are in use today, due in part, to what we now know as hydrogen sulphide gas, which can and has caused death. 

Excerpt from the Hot Lakes Chronicle : "Dr Ginders caused the following notice to be posted:- It is not safe to remain in these baths longer than 15 minute, nor is it safe to move about from bath to bath. The water should be disturbed as little as possible, as movement only tends to disengage a larger quantity of the deleterious gases"

Dr Alfred Ginders claimed that, the “Wikirihou’ or Vaux Spring supplying the new sulphur baths, could be a cure for drunkenness’ the author of this article published in the, Mount Ida Chronicle, Volume 29, Issue 1491, 28 May 1898, was a little skeptical!. 

Public hot baths and bath houses were not in existence until the ‘Pavilion Baths’ and ‘Blue Bath’ were built. During excavation for the Blue Bath “workmen dug into a sulphur cavern coated with yellow sulphur crystals at the foot of which a hot spring emitted sulphur impregnated steam”  from ‘The Government gardens’ by Phil Andrews,  p.33   

The bath house was opened to the public by, celebrity journalist, Mr George Sala in November 1885.

Creator unknown : Photograph of Madame Rachel and Priest's Baths Pavilion, Rotorua.
Ref: PAColl-8389. Alexander Turnbull Library, New Zealand. /records/22764256
‘The Duchess Bath’, was opened by the then Duchess of York in 1901.

Inside The Duchess baths, Rotorua. Tourist Department album 11. Ref: PA1-o-503-05.
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23245611
The Bath House (now the Museum) was built and in operation from 1908.

Photograph by Alison Leigh. December 2017.

With thanks to Don Stafford, Phil Andrews and Papers Past for the information above.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Rotorua Library, Summer of STEAM

Rotorua Bridges,  c1872-1959.

1. Okere Bridge c.1872 built by McAuley, Bumpus & Co. at Mourea, it was a ‘Truss Bridge’ rebuilt in 1883 by James White and again in c.1899-1900 by Ernest Kusabs.

Remained in use until it collapsed 1 November 1957 taking a logging truck with it 30 ft below into the rapids. A new concrete bridge was under construction at the time, so a Bailey Bridge was erected temporarily until the new one opened 17 February 1958.

2. Ohau Channel  c.1872
In 1891 the channel was moved and made larger to accommodate the steam launch. This later caused flooding on the private land on either side.
A new bridge at Ohau Channel  was opened 5th February 1959.

3. Mr Dunbar Johnson ordered a Foot Bridge built to cross the Puarenga March c.1885, which replaced the one used by locals described as a few planks placed between rocks.

Replaced by a bridge that could take road traffic in 1897, built by Mr George McAuley. It was not immediately used for road traffic.  This was called the ‘Wahiao Bridge’
A new bridge was opened 7.11.1931 see Rotorua Morning Post.

Photograph courtesy of the Sir George Grey Special Collection. Auckland Libraries. 35-R1290'
Te Hokowhitu A Tu

Memorial gateway at entrance of Te Whakarewarewa Village by the bridge crossing the Puarenga Stream. Commemorates soldiers of Tuhourangi who died in the two World Wars, opened 22 April 1950.
In "New Century of Rotorua" by Don Stafford, p 294-295.

4. Utuhina Stream bridge at Old Taupo Road, approximately where the current bridge is, c.1872
   Lake Road - Utuhina Bridge – a concrete one –widened and replaced c.1956 this remained until the new Lake Road layout in 2012.

Utuhina Bridge 2012. Photograph by Faeryl Rotherham. Courtesy of  Kete Rotorua 

5. Te Niho o Te Kiore (Atiamuri) c.1873

A road was in construction by Capt. Gilbert Mair and his troops, the bridge was opened 26.3.1873

Friday, 5 January 2018

Rotorua's Arty Makeovers.

Fish Out of Water 2017/2018 

12 New designs and some new artists have contributed this year along with your favourite artists of previous years fishy 'tales'. 

From this

Princess Fishy 2016

To this

The Red Baron 2017

And Unison Box Makeovers 2017, 'The Rotorua Experience'.

From This
Unison Box by Jill Walker & Simon Stanway

To This
Unison Box by Paul X Walsh 2017

'Creative Rotorua' is responsible for the new and vibrant makeovers in the CBD and the annual Fish Out of Water competition. There are also the Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail and the Rotorua Public Art Trail along with other seasonal events which you can find here

The Arts Village is responsible for these amazing events, The 200 Show and Open Studio's Project. Also they have studio's rented out to local art groups, craft classes and more

Not forgetting the Rotorua Museum. There are still events and exhibitions on around the city so look out for those.