Valuable heritage collection submitted to Whanganui Heritage Awards


24 September 2020


Whanganui Hospital’s valuable heritage collection has been submitted in the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Heritage’ category for the Whanganui Heritage Awards.


In 2016, an archival project began to gather photographs, maps, plans, reports, newspaper articles and memorabilia from the 125-year history of Whanganui District Health Board and the organisations which came before it.


Volunteer WDHB Archivist Ailsa Stewart, with support from the Whanganui District Health Board Arts and Archives Group, has identified, recorded, catalogued, stored and displayed taonga appropriately.


Volunteer WDHB Archivist Ailsa Stewart with the displayed historical taonga in the hospital corridor

Volunteer WDHB Archivist Ailsa Stewart with the displayed historical taonga in the hospital corridor

Ailsa Stewart says the collected taonga shows the rich tradition of nursing training in Whanganui, demonstrates the changes in architecture from the colonial hospital built in 1853, to new modern health care facilities and the closing down of rural hospitals in the 1980s.


Whanganui Hospital’s standalone chapel, which is rare for a provincial hospital, was also highlighted in the awards application, as was Te Piringa Whānau, formerly the chapel at rural psychiatric facility Lake Alice. This special building was moved to the hospital campus for use for cultural activities, events, education and hui.


The Art and Archives Group also worked with Whanganui Regional Museum to source local historical photos for the Assessment, Treatment and Rehabilitation ward to help stimulate patients’ memories and provide therapy.


“This project has been undertaken to capture changes to the hospital and health care as different approaches to care has changed and technology has evolved. Photographs of the past also help make hospital corridors more interesting and provide patients and whānau with something interesting to look at which reflects the history of the region,” says Ailsa Stewart.


Some of the taonga will be displayed in hospital corridors in the form of photos and interpretative plaques and there are plans for the collection to be digitised.


Whanganui Hospital at the Rutland Stockade