MARY-JO TO­HILL

Clutha Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS -

Otago and South­land can lay some claim to New Zealand’s fa­mous health re­former Sir Truby King.

Frederic Truby King, aka Dr Truby King, is best known as the founder of The So­ci­ety for the Pro­mo­tion of the Health of Women and Chil­dren, com­monly known as the Plun­ket So­ci­ety, in 1908. King is also syn­ony­mous with Kar­i­tane, the sea­side town north of Dunedin where he lived, which in­spired the Kar­i­tane brand name for child-re­lated ser­vices and prod­ucts.

So­cial group, the Bal­clutha Men’s Friend­ship Club, is go­ing on a Catlins road trip next Tues­day to re­mind them­selves of King’s in­flu­ence on ru­ral New Zealand, par­tic­u­larly in the Ta­hakopa Val­ley.

Mem­bers will fol­low sec­tions of the old bush rail­way from Fine­gand to Ta­hakopa, which takes in one of the farms King owned. It’s more than an an­nual club jaunt. The trip is a factfind­ing mis­sion to see if there is an ap­petite to estab­lish a Sir Truby King com­mem­o­ra­tion at or near the for­mer Catlins sawmilling town of Ta­hakopa.

Mem­ber Rus­sell Har­ris hopes the trip will act as a pre­cur­sor for start­ing dis­cus­sion about ac­knowl­edg­ing King’s con­nec­tion to the district.

Born in New Ply­mouth in 1858, King’s ties with Otago and South­land be­gan in 1889 when he was ap­pointed med­i­cal su­per­in­ten­dent at the Sea­cliff Lu­natic Asy­lum and as a lec­turer in men­tal dis­eases at the Univer­sity of Otago.

King’s con­nec­tion with the Catlins was forged in 1893 when he and his wife Bella took a hol­i­day, and fell in love with the un­tamed en­vi­ron­ment. This was just when the sawmilling boom be­gan, and New Zealand was cry­ing out for na­tive tim­ber.

At the turn of the cen­tury, the doc­tor, who be­came a farmer and a tim­ber miller, was also a gold­miner. Au­thor Lloyd

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