Topic: Tauranga Hospital (1914-2014)

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An article by local historian Christine Clement written in 2014 for the centenary of Tauranga Hospital which opened 100 years earlier, on 5 March 1914.

On the 7 March 1913 the quarterly meeting of the Bay of Plenty Hospital and Charitable Aid Board was held at Whakatane.  Those present were Messrs. A Peebles (in the chair), H R Hogg,  J C Gow, Daniel McEwen[1], T Stuart and George Vesey Stewart.  Plans and specifications for a hospital building at Tauranga were laid on the table.  The board decided that tenders be called for erection of the building and that tenders for the sale of all Board property in Tauranga, with the exception of the Government reserve, also be called.[2] The cost of construction for the hospital building was noted as not being likely to place any burden on the ratepayers as it was felt that the sale of properties owned by the Board would go a long way towards meeting the expected cost.  Also a government grant of 24 shillings for every £1 donated was available.

At the same meeting the Board also moved that representation be made to the Government to have the present Bay of Plenty district divided owing to the heavy costs of administration, and that the county and borough of Tauranga form one district, and the counties of Whakatane, Opotiki and Opotiki borough form the other.  The population of Tauranga County and Borough was estimated at 4290 while the population of Opotiki County and Borough and Whakatane County was 4180.[3]  

On the 31 March 1913 the Bay of Plenty Times advertised that “Tenders are invited today by Mr H H  Clemson on behalf of the Hospital and Charitable Aid Board for the erection of a hospital in Tauranga”.  Tenders were also called for the purchase of Hospital and Charitable Aid Board land which were noted as: - 14 perches and building in Willow Street, near the Post Office; allotment of 23 perches and dwelling near Bellavue House; the Yorkshire Grey building and three quarters of an acre of land at the corner of Cameron Road and Sixth Avenue; a quarter acre allotment in Norris Street and 50 acres at Oropi. 

The meeting of the Hospital and Charitable Aid Board held on the 14 May 1913[4] reported that tenders for the erection of a hospital at Tauranga were received from: -

  • S Pemberton                                     £1248 and £12 for heart flooring
  • J C Adams and Son                         £1295 and £10 10s for heart flooring
  • Maynard                                              £1387

One informal tender was also received. However only one tender was accepted for the purchase of the Board’s properties - Mr A P Darragh’s offer of £262 10s for lot 329, 50 acres at Oropi was accepted and it was decided that the other properties were to be sold via auction through the NZ Loan and Mercantile Agency Co Ltd. The tender for the hospital building from Samuel Pemberton was accepted by the board. 

Samuel Pemberton was born in Taradale (between Melbourne and Bendigo), Victoria around 1863, son of Ishmael Pemberton and Sarah Ann Pemberton née Jevons who had married in Dudley, Worcestershire, England in 1852. By 1870, Ishmael and his family were living in Waikouati, Dunedin.   In 1882 Samuel’s eldest brother Charles Jevons Pemberton married Mary Jane Rhodes in Waikouati. Charles and Mary Jane had two sons in New Zealand, Ishmael Edward and Charles William before moving to Shepparton, Victoria where they had another three sons, John Victor (Jack), Ernest Herbert and Samuel. The family then returned to New Zealand around 1894.

In 1895 Charles Pemberton was before the Invercargill court for stealing a safe containing cash, securities etc to the value of £800.[5] According to family, Mary then left Charles and lived with his brother Samuel who then raised his nephews as his own. Samuel and Mary moved to the North Island, living first in Coromandel and then Karangahake. Samuel was a carpenter and worked on construction of the mines in that area. 

In March 1900 Samuel’s tender of £58 for repairs to the Waiari Bridge at Te Puke was accepted. The three youngest boys were then enrolled at Pongakawa School.  The Pemberton family took up a block of land on the eastern side of Pongakawa Bush Road. The Bay of Plenty Times of the 30 October 1911 reported that Messrs. Pemberton and Smith, of Te Puke, were the successful tenderers for the erection of a dwelling house for Mr A F Tunks on his property on First Avenue, Tauranga. The Pemberton family moved to Tauranga at this time.

Building commenced and by October 1913 the Hospital and Charitable Aid Board decided to have the roof of the hospital painted as well as a gate erected at the main entrance to the hospital grounds in accordance with Mr Clemson’s plan and specification. The Tauranga Gas Proprietary wrote offering to extend the gas mains to the hospital and install the necessary fittings and burners for 25 lights for the sum of £24 10s, if the board would guarantee to use gas for a period of five years. The board replied that they would accept this offer on condition that during that time the price for gas should not exceed that charged to Borough customers. 

The board also was authorised to have the extra acre at the hospital fenced and a hedged planted as soon as possible.  Except for the gas installation the building would soon be ready to receive patients after being furnished and passed by Dr Valintine[6] M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., D.P.H., Inspector General of Hospitals and Chief Health Officer, who would be asked to visit both the Tauranga and newly built Opotiki hospital.

Dr Valintine visited Tauranga on the 14 January 1914, and after an inspection of the new hospital was made, a meeting was held at the Star Hotel.  Here it was decided that a matron be engaged as soon as possible and that she assist the Tauranga board members in regard to the selection of furniture needed. A matron’s salary was about £100 per year and a nurse, £60 to £70.  Dr Valentine was to arrange with the matron regarding the engagement of a staff nurse, and that the matron arrange for a cook and laundress parlour maid. The management of the hospital needed to be carried out by a committee of five persons including the local member of the Board.

Caleb Lally opening of Tauranga Hospital

By the 27 February Miss Gertrude Ellen Mason (NZ Registration No 588) had been appointed Matron and she and Thomas Stuart of the Board, organised many of the things required for the hospital including beds, operating table, instruments, drugs etc. 

Mr Stuart also organized a working bee to put the grounds in order. A party consisting of Messrs Stuart, Spence, Burnett, Blomquist, Rider, C McNaughton, C Smith, J Darragh and P Donovan commenced work shortly after 5am on Monday and at five in the evening, the whole of the grounds had been ploughed, harrowed, drives laid out, plots for planting formed, and the whole place thoroughly cleaned up. Miss Mason, with a party of lady friends provided refreshments throughout the day. The beds were still awaited but everything was expected to be in place for the official opening on Thursday March 12. 

Bay of Plenty Times 2 March 1914

Even though the advertisement was for Thursday 6th March, the Thursday was actually the 5 March.

The Bay of Plenty Times of the 6 March reported on the opening: -

The function that took place at the new hospital yesterday, when the building was formerly opened by Mr George Vesey Stewart, in the unavoidable absence of Mr Peebles, the Chairman of the Bay of Plenty Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, recalls to many minds the fact that the late Canon Jordan, who was a member of the Board for many years, was in a measure responsible for the commencement of the building.  It was he who took the leading part in calling a meeting of the local doctors to consider the matter, with the result that the work was planned and yesterday marked the completion of an institution that it is now generally recognized was highly necessary.

About 200 people had assembled when Mr G V Stewart stepped forward on the verandah of the building. It was, he said, with very sincere feelings of pleasure that he had to thank the people of Tauranga on behalf of the Hospital and Charitable Aid Board for their presence at the opening of the institution.  Some twenty years ago he urged the erection of a cottage hospital in Tauranga.  He met with no support from the Board or the press at the time, but he now had to confess that he was mistaken in his original ideas. The town had progressed and the extra cost of maintaining the larger building that had been provided would be borne by so many that ratepayers would not feel it to any appreciable extent.  It was pleasing to state that the building with its furnishings and equipment would be opened practically free of debt.  This had been made possible by the sale of the Board's properties in Tauranga. He felt sure the Matron, Miss Mason, would give every satisfaction.  Mr Stewart concluded by reminding his hearers that the early application of relief often meant the saving of life, and if only one life could be saved they would have gained much by the erection of the hospital.

Mr M Spence said that the regulations for the conduct of the hospital had not yet been framed but would be completed as early as possible. The appointment of the staff had been entirely in the hands of Dr Valintine, and he thought they had been very fortunate indeed in securing the services of the Matron, Miss Mason, and they could look forward to the hospital being managed economically and well.  A local committee would be appointed as soon as convenient to attend to the details connected with the working of the hospital. It was hoped later to have a verandah added to the building.   Mr H Southey, Chairman of the County Council, said that with the advantage we possessed in the way of climate, and with the skill of the matron and doctors a funeral from the institution should be rare.

Mr C E Macmillan, Deputy Mayor, thanked members of the Board for having had the hospital built, and he sincerely hoped that the staff would not be kept too busy, but that the district would still retain its reputation as a healthy locality.   He appreciated the fact that we had in our midst an up to-date building, with all the necessary scientific apparatus.  He would do his best as a representative of the people of Tauranga to assist the hospital in every way possible, and suggested that if the borough could not supply water and electric light free that it be supplied as cheap as possible. He hoped the people would respond liberally to the appeal for donations. The Rev E D Rice expressed his pleasure at being present. Hospitals were one of the benefits of Christianity, and we had now a very great benefit in this hospital.

Dr Bewes said that those who thought the building would be useless were mistaken. If there were no work to do the Matron would not remain. Patients are waiting to be admitted as soon as that day's function was over. He thought that the best thanks of the community was due to Mr T Stuart for the time and labour he had given to the work of providing the hospital and the intense interest he had taken in the work generally.

Mr G V Stewart then declared the building open and handed the key to the Matron, Miss Mason.  After the gathering had been photographed by Mr McMahon refreshments were partaken of, and the visitors were permitted to inspect the building, a description of which has already appeared in our columns. During the afternoon the Municipal Band, under Bandmaster Shaw, played several selections, and the Matron desires to specially thank the members for having kindly consented to go out.

The collection taken up during the afternoon realised the substantial sum of £37 16s 4d, which, with the Government subsidy, will bring the amount to £85.  The members of the Board desire to thank the public for their very liberal response, and are confident that with other amounts still to come in the sum of £100 will be realised.[7]

On the 23 March 1914 the Bay of Plenty Times announced that ‘Nurse Smith[8] late of Hawera has joined the staff of Tauranga Hospital.’  By the 30 March 1914, the Matron reported that there were four patients in the institution, all doing well. 

Moses Spence and Thomas Stuart of the Board urged that a cottage be built on the hospital grounds for accommodating elderly men under the Board’s care.  It was decided to erect a building of three rooms, the cost to be met by the donations received at the opening ceremony, together with the Government subsidy.  By July the matron reported that since opening 17 patients had been admitted and twelve had been discharged cured and five are resident at present.  The cottage for the old men was completed but not furnished.

In 1915 Matron Mason joined the nursing staff on the hospital ship Maheno and Nurse Ball of Auckland was then to act as Matron.  Nurse Smith also served with the NZ Army Nursing Service during World War One.

1st Avenue and Devonport Road Corner

On the 10 June 1914 Samuel Pemberton began advertising in the Bay of Plenty Times as:

S Pemberton – Builder, Glazier and Sash and Door Manufacturer.
Posts, bricks, lime and cement always in stock
Joinery of all descriptions
Doors, window, frames, sashes etc etc
Direct imported of sheet, plate and fancy glass
The Trade Supplied

from their business on the corner of Devonport Road and First Avenue.  The family also operated a sawmill at Oropi.

Samuel Pemberton was a Tauranga Borough Councilor from 1915 to 1917 and was involved in patriotic societies during World War One. He was also a member of the Mount Maunganui Domain Board.  Around 1913 John Victor (Jack) Pemberton bought twenty two acres of the Yatton Estate at Tauranga, later adding a further thirty six acres.  This was bounded by what is now Chadwick Road, Mansel’s Road, Yatton Road and Fraser Street.  He later donated an area of the farm which is now known as Pemberton Park at Greerton. 

Samuel Pemberton (Jnr) was a member of the Te Puke Mounted Rifles and later the Tauranga Rifle Club.  He was one of the first to enlist when war broke out in 1914 and left Tauranga on the 14 August to join the Main Body.  He was wounded at Gallipoli and spent seventeen weeks in hospital in Malta.  In April 1916 Samuel went to France with the Auckland Infantry Regiment and was killed in action on the 17 September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. 



[1] After the death of Daniel McEwen of Te Puke in July 1913, he was replaced by Caleb Lally in the August.  Other members of the board were Alexander Peebles (Whakatane, JP) Hubert Roughton, Hogg (Opotiki, JP), J C Gow,  Thomas Stuart,(Tauranga), George Vesey Stewart (Katikati), Moses Spence (Tauranga), Benjamin Conrad Robbins (Tauranga), Frederick James Burt (Matata, JP)  and Peter Alexander Crawford (Opotiki, JP) and Harry Osborne Garraway (County Clerk, Whakatane).

[2] Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XLI, Issue 5932, 10 March 1913, Page 2

[3] Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XLI, Issue 5934, 17 March 1913, Page 2 

[4] Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XLI, Issue 5959, 16 May 1913, Page 5

[5] Otago Daily Times , Issue 10492, 16 October 1895, Page 2

[6] Thomas Harcout Ambrose Valintine (1865-1945)

[7] Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XLII, Issue 6021, 6 March 1914, Page 5

[8] Flora Smith who passed her State Examination in July 1913 with Registration Number 1405.

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Tauranga Hospital (1914-2014)


Year:2014