Truby King’s Plun­ket helped save Kiwi kids

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS -

The man who founded the Plun­ket So­ci­ety nearly died be­fore his first birth­day.

Evac­u­ated dur­ing the Taranaki Wars of the 1860s Truby King fell sick and his doc­tor fed him ar­senic and mer­cury to try and cure him.

He sur­vived eight doses of the poi­son, but his health was never good.

It was in 1907 when he was work­ing at the Sea­cliff Lu­natic Asy­lum that he founded the Plun­ket So­ci­ety.

His vi­sion was to help moth­ers and save the ba­bies who were dy­ing from mal­nu­tri­tion and dis­ease and he firmly be­lieved nutri­tion and in­fant care were the way to do so.

The rev­e­la­tion came after he took in his first baby, a young Maori baby boy To­mas Mutu El­li­son from Puketer­aki Hill in Can­ter­bury.

It was 1906 when, upon vis­it­ing the fam­ily on his way home, Truby King sug­gested he take the young sick in­fant with him to ‘build him up a bit’.

Shortly af­ter­ward King called a pub­lic meet­ing and suc­ceeded in win­ning the sup­port of in­flu­en­tial Dunedin women.

They pledged to form a so­ci­ety to carry for­ward the vi­sion for a new health regime based on the sup­port and ed­u­ca­tion of moth­ers.

The so­ci­ety, which came to be known as the Plun­ket So­ci­ety

Your com­ments

On Face­book Sandy Blake­more said her chil­dren went to Plun­ket in Can­nons Creek andWai­tan­girua and 45 years later she still had their Plun­ket books. Annie Fer­gu­son took her sons to Lin­den Plun­ket rooms where she said Sis­ter Vera Balance­was the amaz­ing ‘plunkie.’


after Lady Vic­to­ria Plun­ket, the wife of the Gover­nor and a firm sup­porter, spread rapidly through the coun­try.

Eight months later, the Kar­i­tane Home for Ba­bies opened in Dunedin.

It took ba­bies and chil­dren un­der two years who were not treated un­der the gen­eral hos­pi­tal sys­tem.

By 1909 branches of the Plun­ket So­ci­ety had been formed in all four main cen­tres.

In 1912, after a lec­ture tour by King, a fur­ther 60 branches were formed, each em­ploy­ing a Plun­ket Nurse.

Moth­ers were ed­u­cated in prac­tices of ‘do­mes­tic hy­giene’ and ‘mother­craft’ based on King’s ide­ol­ogy, which stressed reg­u­lar­ity of feed­ing, sleep­ing and bowel habits.

The Plun­ket phi­los­o­phy be­came par­ent­ing lore in New Zealand, and within three decades it was cred­ited with giv­ing this coun­try the low­est in­fant mor­tal­ity rate in the world.

Plun­ket Kar­i­tane Hos­pi­tals were the first of their kind and soon spread rapidly around the coun­try.

Sir Truby King re­ceived a knight­hood for his out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety in 1925.

He died in Welling­ton in 1938 and was the first pri­vate cit­i­zen to be given a state fu­neral.

Sir Truby King’s legacy lives on in Plun­ket to­day, even though the strict regime of many of his orig­i­nal teach­ings do not.

The for­mal ad­vice from Plun­ket nurses of old has been re­placed by a flex­i­ble care and sup­port for par­ents and their chil­dren.

Taken in 1957, fea­tur­ing lit­tle John Patrick Kel­li­her, only son of Mr and Mrs P Kel­li­her be­ing weighed. The laugh­ing 19-week-old boy is be­ing watched by his mother and Plun­ket nurse, Miss MC Smart.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.