TE KOPURU HOSPITAL
In 1899 a Hobson County Council meeting chaired by John Stallworthy was held to discuss the establishment of a hospital in the area, offers of land were made by Mr. FJ Dargaville and Mr. AE Harding, the formers offer was in Dargaville the latter in the Mt Wesley area.
Mr. Harding’s valued the land at £250 and stated that if his offer was not accepted he would give £100 for a hospital on any other site selected by the council. Neither offer was accepted.
In the following year a public meeting was held at Aratapu to consider the question of a hospital site. Residents of the lower part of the Pouto peninsular agreed to the establishment of a hospital at Mt Wesley but would not support one constructed any further away.
The council accepted the Mt Wesley site, however a later council decided against it, Mr. Harding offered a new site at Mangawhare but again the council took no further action.
The Timber Workers Union eventually decided to take up the matter, establishing a hospital on the lines of a similar one working at Mercury Bay.
Mr. Wordsworth of Te Kopuru was approached and consented to give the land upon which the hospital now stands, the county clerk valued it at £120 this was accepted by Mr. Wordsworth and on payment being made he donated the whole sum to the hospital.
The incorporation of the Hospital Board was approved in late 1901, the first trustees elected were J Stallworthy, H Hammond, M Harding, T Webb, L Nisbett, and FW Phillips. Mr. Philips was appointed secretary and Mr. Stallworthy to the chair.
The first meeting of contributors was held at Aratapu in January 1902 there were 40 subscribers present and Mr. Stallworthy was appointed to the chair.
Old Mens Home 1921
With the contributions collected they had £750 towards construction. Later in that year the Hon. Sir Joseph Ward MP. - at that time being the Post Master General in Seddons government - visited the district and in response to a deputation at a well attended meeting in Aratapu, he promised a grant of £1000 towards the hospital’s establishment.
The trustees subsequently collected a further £1200 from the residents the North Auckland Charitable Aid Board contributed £ 260 the trustees now had £3660 to work with.
Mr. H Hammond drew up the plans he being the County Engineer, the foundation stone was laid by the Chairman Mr. J Stallworthy on 11th April 1903 and Mr. Heron was the successful tender which included the doctors residents completed in 1903 the total construction price amounted to £3628. The opening took place on the 23rd November of the same year.
Governor General Lord & Lady Bledisloe during a visit to the hospital on the 14th of May 1931,Lady Bledisloe facing the camera. The tall Naval officer on the right rear is Lt J C Elworthy Lord Bledisloes' ADC (later to be Commanding Officer of RNZ Naval Base Philomel and Director of Naval Recruiting during WW2). One of the other ladies is most likely Lady Nora Jellicoe who was Lady in Waiting to Lady Bledisloe.On the extreme right is Dr G Marshal, Lord Bledisloe is possibly talking to Mr W Simpkins both he and Dr Marshal were members of the Kaipara Hospital Board at this time
With the coming into force of the Hospital and Charitable Aid act of 1908 the hospital ceased to exist as the Northern Wairoa Hospital and it came under the control of the Marsden Kaipara Hospital Board. This arrangement proved to be unsatisfactory and a move was made to secure more local control.
In 1913 an amending act was passed and the Kaipara Hospital and Charity Aid District board came into being, this was a combination of the Hobson and Otamatea counties and the Dargaville borough, these three groups later to become what is now the Kaipara District Council.
Fire Destroys Te Kopuru Hospital Block,
Heroic Nurses Battle Against Chocking Smoke, Flames:
Aged Patients Carried To Safety
So reads the headlines of the Northland Times dated September 15th 1959
The following story read:
"23 aged patients had a miraculous escape from injury and possible death when the main block of the 56 year old Te Kopuru Hospital was completely destroyed by fire at 12.45 o’clock this morning (Sept 15 1959)
A special unit of the Northland Hospital Board, the wards are used exclusively for aged and long term patients from the Whangarei area.
The fire is believed to have been caused by a defective chimney in ward 2
The hospitals night staff worked frantically but thoroughly after the outbreak abd succeeded in wheeling all the 24 patients from the wards into the corridors from where the helpless patients were carried out on the surrounding lawns by local residents and members of the Dargaville and Te Kopuru Fire Brigades.
Later they were housed in the old isolation block which has not been used for some time and which stands some distance away from the gutted wooden block. Arrangements were quickly made for meals and were supplied from the kitchens of the Dargaville hospital 7 miles away.
Stories of heroism flowed from the lips of grateful elderly patients. It was a fight against choking smoke and flames that reduced the 2 ward block to ashes in less than an hour.
There were pathetic scenes and the whole conflagration drew a prayer from a lad as he watched the flames demolish the main part of the institution"
The following week these headlines appeared:
The 'Time Capsule' was subsequently handed over to Mr MH Guthrie the secretary of the Kaipara Hospital Committee. The ccontents included documentation regarding the institution of the hospital and various other documents regarding the staffing and the bylaws governing the hospital as well as details of those attending the laying of the foundation stone on the 11th of April 1903. Also included was a document listing the members of the Hobson County Council, the clergymen of the district, members of the Masonic Lodges and Friendly Societies. Mr AE Harding the local MP for Kaipara was also mentioned. Its current wereabouts is unknown at this stage, however investigations are continuing.
Hospital fire after the demolition of the chimneys ©Dargaville Museum
The main entrance from Norton Street as it is today
One of the distinguishing features of the hospital was it's flag pole, this was situated in a prominent place over looking the river and the approach to Te Kopuru hill. After World War 1 a memorial to those of the district who failed to return was erected and regular commemorations where held there every ANZAC day, these were always well attended. However over the yearss these seem to have been replaced by parades held at Te Kopuru School, but over the last few years, the flagpole and memorial have been tidied up and a civic service has been held there on ANZAC Day for the last 3 or 4 years.