Porirua Lunatic Asylum 1910 and Porirua Hospital Museum

Porirua Lunatic Asylum

The Porirua Lunatic Asylum (Porirua Hospital ) 1887-2007

The first property for Porirua Hospital was obtained over 14 February 1884 from William Earp. It was portion 60 of both Block V, Belmont survey from the Porirua property District as well as 3 1 acres out of Section 62 adjoining, totalling a hundred and forty acres all suitable for farming. There was a excellent water supply from the hills behind, and also the railroad station about the Wellington into Manawatu railroad along with the volcano proved close by. After the same year the following forty acres of Section 62 have been acquired and this extended a healthcare facility estate farther north to the sinking to what’s currently the Central Business District of Porirua City. The land contained non undulating hillocks at the foot of Colonial Knob in of which the old major making was going to control a sweeping perspective of Porirua harbour, and at which at the time it was itself to turn into one among those landmarks of the shore. Even the creek fed by the streams from Colonial Knob hurried down the valley throughout the hospital territory, also this small valley was to turn into the venue of the hospital’s major vegetable gardens and orchard. Inside this valley the first building, a small cottage called H Cottage was developed in 1887. A 6000 gallon water reservoir one of the hillocks furnished an’exceptional water source’. The web site picked for its new asylum in Porirua was located in a rural area miles away from Wellington which would be on the benefit of the’incurable’ individuals, equally because of protection against public fascination, and as a opportunity for them to work out doors and advantage therapeutically from your fresh air and exercise. As well it had been intended that the patient labor is used to make a healthcare facility to allow a medical facility to become somewhat self satisfactory and thrifty.

Building the Porirua Lunatic Asylum

About 31 May 1887 Dr Thomas Radford King was appointed clinical superintendent of both Wellington and Porirua Asylums. Within 10 months he’d moved on to be replaced by doctor Gray Hassell. In 1891 that a contact was let for making the brand newest central block for chronic patients in Porirua to adapt over 500 patients in a complete price of 35,000 pounds. The original contract for the block was signed on 7 February 1891 for 17,383 pounds and construction completed per calendar year later. Profession with patients started even ahead of the accommodation was complet It is nearly certain this is H Cottage, very 1st a ward, then employed as a medical practioners residence and afterward like a convalescent ward for most women. On 15 March 1886, the New Zealand Gazette announced the Approval of This tender of John Rose, Wellington, at 1,972 pounds for Its Porirua Lunatic Asylum Agreement. There has been A deal entered to 11 October 1886 for the asylum around the plantation in Porirua. It’s actually just a 1 storied building covering a soil space of about 7000 square feet and comprising 24 apartments of many different types. The construction was finished on 11 inside of host time.

Porirua Asylum, Porirua Hospital, Porirua Psychiatric Hospital, Porirua Hospital Museum

Porirua Lunatic Asylum

In 1893 studies were made for extra land to deliver an increased water supply and further development of the clinic plantation. In 1893 and 1894 that a further 695 acres were obtained by the Authorities. This land was a part of Conservancy 52,54, also 55 as well as Sections 122, 123, and 124 and added that the property supporting a medical facility extending into the very top of Colonial Knob, south west east along the valley into the current Porirua town suggestion and upward into the hills beneath. With the land, 195 acres must serve as a water-catchment and 500 acres for grazing sheep. A further purchase of 22 acres in 1896 attracted the property to an overall total of’not exactly 1000 acres’.

The construction was opened on 9. It was a stage of intense activity at the newest asylum along with the other works were happening or done for example a reservoir, even a fire prevention system, a drainage system, a fire prevention system, groundwork of grounds including diversion and setup of steam heating system, and also a heated water source.

In September 1894 Mrs Grace Neill was appointed the first Official Visitor to get Porirua Hospital, an appointment,” which had been made possible from the Lunatics amendment Act of the exact year which enabled girls to become Official website visitors. Official site visitors have been first appointed in 1868 as well as like the Inspectors, had been to behave as separate critics. Reputable and reliable taxpayers, they have to stop by the asylums on a regular basis at which they had absolute access to follow patients report and complaints up on their own welfare and conditions. They were separate of the hospital ladder.

Porirua Asylum - Porirua Mental Hospital

Porirua Psychiatric Hospital Main Building, 1910. Image Courtesy of © PORIRUA HOSPITAL MUSEUM AND RESOURCE CENTRE TRUST 2011
Porirua Psychiatric Hospital Main Building, 1910. Image Courtesy of © PORIRUA HOSPITAL MUSEUM AND RESOURCE CENTRE TRUST 2011

On 31 May 1887 Dr Thomas Radford King was appointed medical superintendent of both Wellington and Porirua Asylums. However within 10 months he had moved on to be replaced by Dr Gray Hassell. The ‘branch asylum’ or Farm Asylum, as it was called, was managed by John Wybourn, an attendant who had large experience of dairy farming in England. Subsequent reports stated that the farm asylum was always found in good order and was a very valuable facility for the treatment of convalescents.

1900 Porirua Hospital Construction

By 1900 the construction of the original design of the asylum to accommodate 513 patients was almost completed with dormitories, day rooms, and single rooms for the noisy patients provided on both the male and female sides. There was criticism of the materials used for the building such as the use of unseasoned timber which was shrinking, plaster breaking down, and the use of sea sand in the mortar making it friable.

Porirua Asylum Staffing

This was hoped this would raise the standing of emotional health nurses and stimulate interest in this vocation.
Back in 1908 the nursing team contained 3 2 attendants and 30 nurses. Older staff in the asylum held their position for a lengthy moment. Doctor Gray Hassell was Medical Superintendent from 1899 to 1920. Miss Margaret Ogilvie has been Matron from 1906. The two Mr. Barnes the Chief Attendant and also Mr. Holder, Chief Clerk maintained their positions for Several Years.

In 1902 construction recommenced and also this time that the wooden construction was first performed at June 1903 referred to as the auxiliary asylum. As Mount watch willing to close, further additions were demanded, and also at 1910, F. Ward (the website of the present Hospital Museum) started.

Porirua Psychiatric (ca. 1910)

As part of the new initiatives in mental health care that were eventually introduced throughout New Zealand by the Mental Defectives Act 1911, the Porirua Mental Asylum became the Porirua Mental Hospital, and management of the hospital was undertaken by a Medical, as distinct from lay, Superintendent. Although activities such as farming had been part of the therapy of patients at Porirua from its opening, the Mental Defectives Act 1911 formerly introduced the concept of occupational health. This led to the adoption of the villa system whereby patients could live in accommodation located away from the main building and where they could enjoy time outdoors within a secure facility. F ward had some features of the villa system, but was always officially referred to as a ward and was either semi-detached or directly connected to the main hospital.

Porirua Aslyum F Ward

F Ward was originally divided into rooms for refractory (disturbed) women mental patients. A grassed courtyard and a sun shelter, enclosed by a security wire netting fence, were provided adjacent to the building. A key advocate for this system was Dr. Theodore Grant Gray, who was appointed to Porirua Hospital in 1911 as a Junior Assistant Medical Officer to the Medical Officer to the Medical Superintendent, Dr. Gray Hassell (Superintendent from 1890 to 1920).

F Ward were terribly violent

The Asylum patients in F Ward were terribly violent

Gray only spent a short time at Porirua but was to later work in other New Zealand institutions. During his time at Porirua Hospital he appears to have been instrumental in instituting the state registration of psychiatric nurses. The practical effect of this was to allow for female charge nurses to be appointed to male wards.

In a letter of 15th of December 1943, F ward houses 103 women.

A nurse who worked there in 1925 remembered:

"The patients in F Ward were terribly violent. They screamed and yelled all night and half the day. There were no drugs - they were locked in single rooms and you couldn't go near them."


Inside the seclusion room in F-Ward used to house psychiatric patients

he photo shows one of those rooms today at the Museum. The clothing and mattress were made of canvas to prevent the patients from tearing them up and hanging themselves. Ngaere who nursed patients here in the 1930s says: “It was not really barbaric – they were not shut in and forgotten – they were moved to a clean room every twelve hours – there was no medication – there was nothing else we could do”.

Porirua Asylum a top Porirua Tourist Attraction
Article Name
Porirua Asylum a top Porirua Tourist Attraction
Land was acquired in 1884 for a hospital farm that would offer 'work therapy' to relieve overcrowding at Wellington's Mount View Lunatic Asylum
Publisher Name
Porirua Life
Publisher Logo