The Hill - Rotorua Public Hospital

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D series, ca. 1935-1950s.
RNZ Collection
Hay, S. H., Speaker/Kaikōrero
Lloyd, Darkie, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Kernohan, Alan, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Davis, Bunny, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Broad, Frank, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Kingi, Dan, 1894?-1969, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Bridgman, Eric Hattaway, -1980 (d.1980), Speaker/Kaikōrero
Goodwin, Phyllis, -1968 (d.1968), Speaker/Kaikōrero
Watt, W. J., Speaker/Kaikōrero

D SERIES - The Hill: The story of the Rotorua Public Hospital. This programme consists of opening music, narration and interviews about the history of Rotorua Public Hospital. It includes its time as the King George V Military Hospital for wounded soldiers from World War I, known as the 'Blue Boys', treatment of child polio patients and its connection with Māori.
It includes interviews with the following people: Dr S. H. Hay, Darkie Lloyd, Alan Kernohan, Bunny Davis, Frank Broad, Dr W.J. Watt, Ngati Whakaue elder Dan Kingi, Dr. E. H. Bridgman, Nursing Matron Miss Goodwin.

The programme appears to have been recorded to coincide with the opening of the hospital's new Bridgman Building in 1957.

Part 1. Introduction by unidentified male narrator. He describes the setting and appearance of the hospital, known to locals as "The Hill".
Interview with Dr S. H. Hay. He came to Rotorua in 1910 when the hospital consisted of four beds, two for men and two for women, attached to the Sanitorium which attracted invalids from all over New Zealand. The 'San' and hospital were under the charge of Doctor Wohlmann who changed his name to Dr Herbert because people mistakenly thought he was a German during World War I.
It was difficult to get Māori patients into hospital in those days. He remembers a young Māori boy from Mokai with a compound fracture of the leg, which had been dressed with dock leaves. He had come on a horse-drawn sledge on a three-day journey. He describes the appearance of the hospital in those days.
He left in 1912 and came back in 1921. A soldier's hospital had been built during that time on Pukeroa Hill, a former football ground.
He recalls a story of playing on that ground and a Māori patient who still recalled the match, 40 years later.

Interview with Darkie Lloyd of Rotorua who recalls the military hospital being built during World War I. He came up with builders from Wellington in September 1915 to construct the hospital. Two octagonal wards were completed by Christmas, called Anzac and Suvla Wards. It was called King George V Military Hospital.
Narrator: The first commander was Colonel Newell, followed by Colonel Bernau [probably Henry Ferdinand Bernau]
Darkie Lloyd recalls the hospital opening in early 1916. All the population of Rotorua came out for the opening. Jimmy Carroll [sic. Sir James Carroll] made a speech from the dining room window. In 1928 the octagonal wards were shifted to the Otaki Children's Health Camp.
Darkie Lloyd recalls a character of the hospital Charles Vernon, known as 'Captain Cordite', who came as a 'Blue Boy' and graduated onto the staff and was loved by everybody.

Interview with Alan Kernohan [?] a World War I veteran who was a patient at the hospital. He was there when it was transitioning from military to civilian hospital and Dr Wallis [Wilfred Stanley Wallis] was in charge.
He recalls the days when the 'Blue Boys' were about. There was a track from the hospital to the Lake House Hotel, where the Blue Boys used to congregate. When they were kicked out of there, they went to the Palace Hotel. Some who had money used to get a horse and trap and go to the Geyser [Hotel]. It didn't matter where you went, the Blue Boys were everywhere.
He explains the blue uniform worn by the patients, which led to the nickname. [ends mid-sentence]

Part 2
The interview with Alan Kernohan continues with a description of the Blue Boys' uniform. Dr Wallis was in charge at the time and was very popular with the returned men. He was a returned man himself.
He describes entertainment at the hospital; winning a raffle and concerts at a YMCA Hall at the hospital, which is now The Druid's Hall in town. Some of the patients were very talented. The hospital was a very nice place.

Interview with Bunny Davis, the house manager at the hospital, who started as an orderly. He reads an excerpt from a newspaper clipping of 1920 about entertainment at the hospital. A dining room was converted to a theatre where a hospital troop called "Odds and Ends" performed, with musical director Margaret McKenzie. He and the interviewer discuss an old programme for a 'pierrot show' and some of the acts which appear in it, including various World War I- related skits such as 'The Life of the Gay Lady of Armentieres'.

A scripted 'talk' by Frank Broad of Auckland, an 'old digger' who was in the hospital after returning from Egypt in 1915. He says of all the hospitals he was in after the war, none have such fond memories for him as the King George Hospital on Pukeroa Hill. He recalls Anzac and Suvla wards as being like giant, glassed-in band rotundas. The diggers came under military discipline and those who could get about were dressed in hospital blues, so they could not go into a pub for a drink. However, they got around this by keeping a suit of 'civvies' at a friend's home.
The hospital was under the command of Colonel Hogg [?] a very fine doctor and administrator, assisted by Major Wallis, an orthopaedic surgeon, who went on to gain world fame for the work he did with polio children. There was also Doctor Eady [?] a tough, rugby-type who had served with distinction in France and came from Central Otago. He also remembers two other doctors, Captain Hocking[?] and Captain Nelson, who was nicknamed "Jockey Nelson"
Welfare officers he recalls were Major Sammy Hayes and Captain Tom Shearer. Hays lost his leg at the Somme, where he was attached to the Second Field Ambulance and was reknown for his great courage. Tom Shearer was a grand type of padre.
The Matron was Miss Bird [L.M. Bird], a grand person, much esteemed by the diggers. Sister Dement, a tall, blond Aussie, was a great favourite with the troops, who used to stand up to teasing about her name.
It was through Major Wallis that the men were able to form a concert party which then toured the Bay of Plenty, giving shows and raising money for local charities.
Frank Broad recalls organising the very first carnival held in Rotorua and working with Hugh McPherson of the Returned Soldiers' Association and repatriation officer. He left Rotorua in 1921 for England and was honoured with a public farewell.

Unidentified narrator continues: Dr W.S. Wallis [Wilfred Stanley Wallis] is well-remembered by the diggers and for his work during the polio outbreaks, as is Sister Harris and her band of physiotherapists. From about 1924 the numbers of polio patients began to drop gradually and the hospital began to change in character and function. [ends abruptly]

Part 3
Narrator continues: The hospital began to transistion to a general hospital and training hospital for nurses. In 1934, it was renamed Rotorua Hospital.
Interview with Senior Surgeon Dr W.J. Watt. He arrived at the hospital in July 1938.
The most interesting thing for him has been working with Māori patients. It was hard in the early days and they had many a long kōrero with parents to get them to leave sick children in hospital. It is very different now, with about 50 percent of patients being Māori. There are no better patients. It is the same with Māori nurses, who are good-natured, cheerful and second-to-none.
Interview with Dan Kingi of Ohinemutu, a Ngati Whakaue elder. He talks about the history of Pukeora Hill and its significance for Ngati Whakaue. Song and chants often refer to it as a mountain because it is held in such high esteem. It was gifted by the tribe to the public as a recreation reserve. It was always to be administered by a committee of Ngati Whakaue, but subsequently was taken over by the government, without the consent of his people.
An arbor day was held with Māori and pakeha turning out to plant the avenues of trees on the hill. The football field was in a basin, with sloping sides for people to sit and watch. The field was known throughout New Zealand. During the First World War, Ngati Whakaue agreed with the government suggestion to put the convalescent hospital up there.
When the Sanitorium was built the Crown suggested that as a gesture, Ngati Whakaue people should get free treatment, which continued up until the advent of social security.

He says Māori were at one time prejudiced against hospital treatment. This has been overcome by very sympathetic treatment by various hospital superintendents and also many Māori girls who have trained as nurses there and Ngati Whakaue now see many benefits in having the hospital alongside them.

Part 4.
Interview with current medical superintendent Dr E.H. Bridgman.
He describes the hospital as it is now, with 200 beds and a very busy outpatient department, which was destroyed recently in a fire and is now in a temporary building. He talks about provisions for children at the hospital and the large number of Māori staff.
He also discusses how the hospital has overcome Māori resistance to European hospital treatment.

The narrator lists the large amount of food and other supplies the hospital requires in a year.
Bunny Davis, the house manager talks about breakages.
Interview with the Matron Miss Goodwin who was first at the hospital in 1938 doing her maternity training. She recalls nursing staff at the time.
The Matron was Miss Bonnington [Violet Bonnington], assisted by Miss D. White and Miss H. Compton. Miss Walker was Matron next and then Miss Goodwin replaced her when she retired. [ends abruptly]

Part 5.
Interview with Miss Goodwin continues.
A fast-growing population is putting the hospital under pressure, as is the recent fire.
She talks about the nurse training school at the hospital, which has graduated 230 nurses so far.
This Sunday, the new Bridgman Wing will be opened. It has three wards, with a new children's ward on the ground floor. She discusses the facilities of the new building.
Doctors Watt and Bridgman talk about the changes that will come with moving into the new building.