Recog­ni­tion at last for the first Plun­ket nurse


‘‘She played such an im­por­tant part in our his­tory.’’

El­yse Childs is de­ter­mined to give her great great grand­mother the recog­ni­tion she feels she de­serves.

Her first solo ex­hi­bi­tion, Mother­craft, ex­plores two of Plun­ket’s pi­o­neers and the role they played in shap­ing the New Zealand or­gan­i­sa­tion.

In 1907 her an­ces­tor Joanna MacKinnon be­came the coun­try’s first Plun­ket nurse, but Childs said no­body knew about her.

‘‘I thought she deserved some recog­ni­tion be­cause she played a re­ally im­por­tant part in our his­tory.’’

MacKinnon was the only woman to re­ceive one-on-one train­ing from Plun­ket founder Frederick Truby King.

‘‘She worked at the Sea­cliff Lu­natic Asy­lum in Dunedin as an at­ten­dant and Truby King was an ob­server there.’’

Childs said she strug­gled to find in­for­ma­tion on her rel­a­tive, but what she has found shows a woman ahead of her time.

The pho­tos would form part of her ex­hi­bi­tion which she hoped would en­cour­age vis­i­tors to think about the role of Plun­ket.

MacKinnon re­ceived the first Plun­ket nurse medal, in­scribed with the words ‘love, pity and sym­pa­thy for God and all his lit­tle ones’.

‘‘Nor­mally when plun­ket nurses got mar­ried they re­lin­quished their medals but she didn’t, she was pretty spe­cial.’’

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