The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]
The Auckland Lunatic Asylum
The Auckland Lunatic Asylum. Avondale, is one of the largest asylums in the Colony. It is imposing in appearance, is built of brick, and is about three miles distant from Auckland. The main building, where the apartments of the medical men and the administration offices are placed, faces the junction of the Great North Road and the road leading to Mount Albert. In the central portion are the dining halls, kitchen, and store-rooms, and the two adjoining wings are respectively the male and female wards. The male dining hall, which is too small for present requirements, is also used for the various theatrical and musical performances which are given from time to time to provide variety and pleasure for the inmates. Some distance off there are auxiliary buildings which were originally of wood, but were destroyed by fire in December, 1894. A new brick building, capable of accommodating 120 patients, was immediately begun, and was ready for the reception of patients in 1896. A never failing supply of water of exceptional purity is obtained from a spring in the estate, and is pumped to a large reservoir on a hill within a short distance of the buildings, and the supply thus obtained is quite ample for domestic and fire prevention purposes. But to provide for accidents, a large water main is laid from the Western Springs, and this can be used in case of emergency. Water for fire prevention is laid over all the various buildings, and an efficient fire brigade, composed of the various attendants, is constantly drilled, and every conceivable precaution against fire is taken by the management. Electric bells are laid all over the buildings, and the attention of the superintendent, or of the attendants, can be secured at a moment's notice. The ornamental grounds in front of the main building are extensive and are laid out and kept with the utmost regard to beauty and good taste. A farm, consisting of nearly 200 acres of poor clay and light volcanic soil, is attached to the Asylum, and on this extensive operations are carried on throughout the year. In this way healthful recreation is provided for a number of the patients, and a plentiful and constant supply of fresh, wholesome vegetables is secured for the use of the Asylum. About fifty milch cows of the finest breed are kept on the estate, and a capital byre on the most modern principles has been erected in connection with the farm buildings. A large number of well-bred pigs, principally Berkshires and Yorkshires, are reared and fattened on the farm, and this forms a considerable source of revenue to the institution. An unlimited supply of fresh eggs is obtained from a large stock of the various breeds of poultry. Part of the land has been turned into an experimental sewage farm, which has been a great success. A new wing on the male side is now (1900) in course of erection; the second storey has been designed to accommodate fifty patients, while the lower or ground floor is intended for a hospital. At the present time (December, 1900), there are in the Asylum about 494 patients—306 males and 188 females, and the staff numbers thirty-one males and twenty-one females. The average page 190 net cost per patient was, in 1898, £19 13s, and, in 1899, £20 8s. The average number of patients sent out cured in 1898 was fifty-one per cent., and in 1899, thirty-eight per cent.; average deaths, 1898, 7.5; in 1899, 8.8. The officials of the institution are:—Dr. Robert Martin Beattie, medical superintendent; Dr. William Webster, assistant medical officer; Mr. Frank Cooke Hall, clerk and store-keeper; Mr. Edward Newport, head attendant; Miss Sophia Campbell, matron; Mr. J. D. Muir, farm manager. Most of the male attendants have had considerable experience of gardening and farming, and are capable of directing the operations of the patients in that connection. Divine service is held on Sunday by ministers of the denominations of which patients are members. Parts of the Asylum grounds are very picturesque, and through hill and dale there runs a fine stream of water, which has a waterfall of considerable size. Everything about the Asylum is kept in the most perfect order, and thorough discipline is maintained under the keen yet kindly eye of Dr. Beattie.