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