Sun, Jun 9, 2024 11:00 AM

History: Motueka’s maternity cottage hospital - Part 1




In 1920, a privately run maternity hospital was operating in Motueka and on its sale it was suggested that Nelson Hospital Board purchase it for the community.

Residents had, for a long time, expressed a need for a cottage hospital that could cover maternity care and crisis cases. The chairman of the board responded that Motueka should be the last district entitled to a cottage hospital as other districts had a greater claim, and that if Motueka people wanted a hospital they should pay for it themselves.

Arguments continued for months with issues of costs, maintenance, roles, responsibilities, and needs raised.  At a meeting of the Hospital Board, Mr Nicholson supported the establishment of the cottage hospital while other members were not so keen.

The chairman believed it would cost more than was thought, and the board would have to face the bill. Mr Hewetson believed in the “old-fashion system of dealing with maternity cases in their own homes with the help of a district nurse.”

In February 1921, an amendment was moved that the board agree to the establishment of a cottage hospital at Motueka subject to the board committing itself to a maximum liability of £250 a year, and Motueka Council should agree to rate itself to cover any deficit in annual expenses, and that the residents of Motueka Harbour district find the capital expenditure.

Motueka was advised to raise £1500 to launch the scheme successfully and that running expenses could be met by fees and subsidies from Nelson Hospital and Charitable Aid Board. Motueka and the wider Tasman district residents offered support to raise funds with suggestions being to hold a grand ball, to map out the district into areas and the carrying out of a “Lightning Campaign” to collect donations.

Other suggestions were for a first-class concert, a children’s fancy dress, a waltzing competition and a spinster’s ball. Communications came from the Director General of Health who wrote to the Hospital Board stating that they were acting in a manner that had not been adopted by any hospital board in New Zealand, i.e., in asking Motueka district to subscribe the sum which, together with Government subsidy, would meet the whole cost of capital expenditure in establishing a cottage hospital.

He suggested a lesser sum be asked for, and the board should reconsider the matter with a view to asking the residents’ of Motueka to subscribe a sum which, with Government subsidy, would amount to not more than one half of the total amount of money required.

Example given – If the amount in question was £4000, Motueka district should be asked to subscribe a maximum of £1,000, and the responsibility of various parties concerned would be: Residents of Motueka by voluntary subscription £1,000; Nelson Hospital Board by levy £1,000; Government subsidy £2,000; total £4,000.

In early 1922 arguments were continuing and further communication from the Director General called on the board to provide and maintain a hospital with accommodation for not less than ten beds. Failing this, the Department would establish the hospital and deduct the amount from the board’s subsidy.

The minister was given an assurance that the hospital, would be established forthwith.

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