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Nursing in New Zealand: History and Reminiscences


page 261


On September 2nd, 1932, Miss Hester Maclean, R.R.C., Nightingale Medal, the author of this book, passed away at her residence, “Coolbeg,” Highland Park, Wellington, New Zealand.

As ex-Matron-in-Chief of the Army Nursing Service, she was given a military funeral, the service being conducted by Chaplain Fry, M.A.C.F., at St. Paul's Pro-Cathedral. In accordance with her rank, the pall-bearers were six commissioned officers of the N.Z.A.M.S.

As the casket was borne into the church, it was followed by her sister, Miss Flora Maclean, her old friend, Dr. Agnes Bennett, and a large number of military sisters wearing their war medals.

A nurse, writing to a friend, states it was the most moving and impressive sight to see so many nurses of the older generation carrying their insigna of service rendered, and paying their tribute to one who had befriended so many individually and who had so well upheld the honour of her profession.

In the church was a very large gathering, representing all the military, medical and nursing services of the country, from the Minister of Health, the Director-General of Health, the Director of the Army Medical Service, and the Principal Matron of the Army Nursing Service, to the most junior nurse who could be released during her page 262 duty hours. Among the many private friends were large numbers of the doctors of Wellington, including her valued friend and adviser, Dr. Young.

Perhaps a still greater tribute to Miss Maclean's far-flung interests and sympathies were the wonderful flowers, which she was known to have loved so much, sent from every part of New Zealand.

No citizen hero or warrior could have been carried to her last resting place with greater honour. On the Union Jack, which so fittingly covered one of her loyal sentiments, lay a cushion, on which were pinned her orders and decorations, and a gun carriage was the right emblem for one whose outlook was so essentially that of the warrior, ready to fight to the death where she deemed fight was needed, and to the last chafing at the restraints brought about by her physical disability—like so many of her “up and doing” temperament, she died of heart exhaustion.

The stirring salute of the firing party, followed by the Last Post and the Reveillé, made a warrior's setting for her entry upon a new and greater adventure.

Her ashes lie in the Soldiers' Cemetery at Karori, Wellington.

* * * *

The following paragraph is quoted from the issue of Kai Tiaki, published just after her death:—

“Miss Maclean's retirement was a peculiarly happy one, spent in her home situated on the hills at Highland Park, with its wonderful view of the harbour and the hills, which she so loved, visited by her many friends who came to her for her kindly and experienced advice. Her interest in her profession never page 263 waned, she retained the editorship of “Kai Tiaki” to her death, and only the week before, she wrote an article which will appear in a later issue.

For the last eighteen months of her life, Miss Maclean had been very much confined to her home on account of her health. During the winter months when she could not be in her beloved garden, she whiled away the hours by jotting down reminiscences of her life and work. As these grew, the idea of compiling them into a record of New Zealand Nursing came to her, and it is out of these at first irregular notes, this book has developed.

The writing of it gave Miss Maclean intense pleasure, and she was most anxious it should prove of worth to the younger nurses of to-day, as well as of interest to the nurses of the older generation. In spite of her desperate illness, with characteristic energy she read and revised all the proofs, and a few days before her death an advance copy of the book was placed in her hands to her very great delight.

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