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Nursing in New Zealand: History and Reminiscences

Chapter XXIX. — Farewells

page 139

Chapter XXIX.

Meanwhile, while I was busy with all this detail, nurses were being selected, medically examined and on arrival at Wellington prior to sailing, were attested and sworn in, quite a ceremony with so many as fifty.

Nurses Nurse and Price and Wilson had by this time arrived back from Samoa, and, of course, were eager to be sent on.

Names of nurses sent in first contingent:—Nurse Nurse, Price, Wilson, Maclean, Fanny Speedy, Edna Pengelly, Mary McBeth, Elizabeth Smailes, May Foote, trained at Wellington Hospital; Ina Bennett and Mabel Crooke, Palmerston North; Emma Harris, Kate Barnett, New Plymouth; Carrie Young, Mary Sutherland, Maud Mitchell, Daphne Commons, Sarah Clarke, Emily Nutsey, Auckland; Matilda Fricker, Lily Burke, Hamilton; Agnes Williams, Gisborne; Ethel Taylor, Hawera; Kate Bright, Napier; Isla Stewart, Masterton; Cora Anderson, Thames; Vida Maclean, Florence Siddells, Louisa Bird, Wanganui; Rose Fanning, Alicia Inglis, Eva Livesey, Edith Harris, Emily Curtis, Kathleen Davies, May Chalmer, Theresa Butler, Christchurch; Annie Buckley, Waimate; Margaret Jamieson, Oamaru; Alice Searell, Isabella Scott, Timaru; Elizabeth Nixon, Jean Dodds, Jean Cormack, Janet Moore, Grace Calder, Marie Wilkie, Dunedin; Christina Gibbons, Riverton; Jane Miller, Southland; Jean Ingram, Nelson; Christina Lowe, page 140 Dunedin. The first fifty nurses, as it may be seen from list in appendix, were very representative of the different parts of the Dominion. Then came the farewell in each centre, the nurses were sent away with good wishes, and numerous presents.

The Red Cross provided them with quite a number of comforts, deck chairs, torches, books, and many other things were given. Finally, the Wellington Branch of the Trained Nurses' Association gave a farewell reception to the whole fifty.

The Minister of Defence, the Hon. Mr. James Allen, the Mayoress, the Director of Medical Services (Dr. Valintine), and many other distinguished people were present. Dr. and Mrs. Young also gave a very pleasant party, and the final function was held at Parliament Buildings, for the purpose of investing the nurses with the Army Nurses' Badge. This, which was selected by the Minister of Defence, from the many designs sent in, is quite artistic. Surmounted by the Royal Crown, the badge is the Red Cross bordered by the Silver Fern Leaf, with the letterings, N.Z.A.N.S., in silver letters on a scroll of blue enamel. “This will show where we came from,” said one of the nurses, “and it will also let anyone know, in case of accident, who we are, because each one bears an identification number.”

The Prime Minister, the Right Honorable, Mr. W. F. Massey and his wife were present, and Mrs. Massey, now Dame Christina Massey, invested each nurse with her badge. The Prime Minister expressed the appreciation of the Government and the people of New Zealand, of the fact that the nurses had offered their services to the Empire. The Hon. J. Allen reminded the nurses, that page 141 they were going, not simply as a batch of New Zealand nurses, but they were going as Empire nurses.

“We are not sending you to nurse New Zealand troops only, we are sending you to do whatever the Army Council in England may ask you to do; but whether you are sent to Europe or Egypt or Turkey, the good wishes of New Zealand go with you, and we wish you good luck, a safe voyage, and a safe return. You carry with you the fair name of New Zealand, and we look to you to create another tradition for us.”

After some kind words from the Minister of Health, the Hon. Sir H. Rhodes, the function concluded with afternoon tea. Now we were all ready to await the next morning.

I had arranged to keep on my little flat during my absence, so had no trouble in packing and putting things away.

One circumstance had pleased me very much in connection with the volunteers for service; not one query had been made as to pay and allowances. One sister told me she had never expected her pay to be more than £50 per annum. It was not until the first contingent had sailed, that the regulations with rates of pay and allowances were finally passed by Cabinet, but before they left, it had been officially announced by the Minister of Defence, and published in the papers that the whole of the members of the contingent would have the same status as officers in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, although their pay was on a different basis.

Under the regulations the total number of the service was to be 101, including the 50, and of them 20 were to be sisters.

page 142

It was little thought that this number allowed for would be many times exceeded. The Matron-in-Chief being already in a position receiving salary, and the four principle matrons of the district, were not included on the pay list; it was not expected, unless under special circumstances, that any would be called upon for service inconsistent with their ordinary office.

During the long course of the War, it was necessary to change some of the regulations at first issued, which appear fully in Kai Tiaki, and to add others.