Tuesday, 30 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