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Nursing in New Zealand: History and Reminiscences

Chapter XI. — Kai Tiaki.—The Commencement of the Nurses' Journal

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Chapter XI.
Kai Tiaki.—The Commencement of the Nurses' Journal.

An outcome of the Association with which I have been very intimately concerned for 25 years, has been Kai Tiaki, the Nurses' Journal. Coming, as I did from Australia, where two nursing papers were flourishing, I quickly saw the need of some medium of communication in New Zealand.

Before the united association was formed, and when the Wellington private nurses' Association was practically the only organisation of nurses, a dinner party was held for nurses and their friends in July, 1907, at which about 100 women attended. I was present as a guest, and after dinner, while proposing the health of the committee, suggested that a journal for nurses should be started, and offered to act as editor. The proposal was enthusiastically received, so I immediately set to work communicating with the matrons of the chief hospitals, and nurses in the different centres, asking them to become subscribers. A good response was received. I had the assistance of a young man, member of a firm of publishers, in making arrangements for printing and distribution, and in January, 1908, the first quarterly number appeared.

Very soon exchanges were invited by journals in different countries. The A.T.N.A., Una, British Journal of Nursing, The Nursing Times, The American Journal, page 72 La Garde Malade, The Canadian Nursing Journal, and others.

Some of these journals, for instance the British Journal of Nursing, and the American Journal, were already procured by the Department of Hospitals for use by the nursing section.

I had many encouraging letters of appreciation during the early years of Kai Tiaki. The name of the journal means “The Watcher, the Guardian,” and is Maori. The original form was designed by Dr. Hay, my chief of the Mental Hospitals Department, who took great interest in my enterprise. It was a grey paper cover with a white lettering and a white Maltese Cross in one corner. It is now a lighter, more fawn colour, with black lettering and the Nurses' Registration Badge in colour. Possibly this was rather an expensive cover, but certainly made the little paper look attractive on the outside, whatever it might be inside!

I was, of course, obliged to obtain the approval of my chief and the Minister of Hospitals, before I could undertake the editorship of this paper, although I intended it to be an occupation for my leisure hours; approval was granted provided no expense to the Government was involved. Thus I took upon myself the financial responsibility for Kai Tiaki. As a Government official, I did not design to benefit myself, and indeed did not expect for a long time at any rate, that subscriptions would more than cover the expenses.

However, during the years that I acted as honorary editor, I was able to pay over to the Nurses' Memorial Fund, any surplus which accumulated from time to time, and to come out without loss at the end.

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Many evenings I spent, sometimes with help from the nurses, in writing addresses and wrapping journals for despatch. One evening I was thus engaged in my office in the old Government buildings, no one as far as I knew in that great empty place, when I felt my first earthquake. It was quite a good shake and for a few minutes I was much alarmed.

We had to be very careful of extra expense in our early years.

With regard to the literary side of the paper, I was fortunate in getting contributions from doctors and nurses on interesting subjects; and looking back now through the old bound numbers, it is wonderful how full of interest they are.

During the year of the Great War especially, letters from nurses at the Front, (published sometimes rather to the writer's dismay), give quite a history of our service in that time.

For twenty-three years, the journal could only, on account of expense, be published quarterly, but two years ago it was decided to raise the subscription and publish it two-monthly; as a matter of fact, it was impossible in a quarterly issue, to keep up the interest and record all that was desirable. Long ere this I had given up my ownership of the journal, which, when I retired from the Government service in 1923, the Nurses' Association purchased from me and requested me to continue as editor at a salary.

This is the history of Kai. Tiaki which I am proud to say, has taken a good place among the nursing journals of the world, and which has helped to link together the nurses of this Dominion.