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Nursing in New Zealand: History and Reminiscences

Chapter LIII. — Nurses' Christian Union

page 247

Chapter LIII.
Nurses' Christian Union.

In July, 1924, it was first proposed to start a Nurses' Christian Union in New Zealand; it was hoped to establish branches in every hospital. Miss Evelyn Williams was keenly interested and offered to pay the salary of an organising secretary to visit the centres. Bible study circles had already started in the Wellington Hospital. It was proposed that the Nurses' Christian Union should be on the same lines as the Students' Christian Movement.

A general meeting was called in Wellington early in 1924, at which a central executive committee was appointed and a constitution drawn up.

I was invited to be President but, in view of my departure for an extended visit to Australia, I felt it best to refuse; but accepted the office of Vice-President. Dr. Wilson, Medical Superintendent of the Wellington Hospital, was elected President, and Miss Newman, Matron of St. Helens Hospital, Vice-president. Mrs. Tythe Brown, who has always been a very enthusiastic member of the Council and is now President, an appointment I have advocated always, as I do not think it is a good thing always to depend upon medical men to lead nurses' enterprises. A number of clergy are also on the Council, and their support is of course, most valuable.

A young nurse, Miss Laurenson, was the first travelling secretary, and visited many of the hospitals in both North and South Islands, and awakened great interest in the movement.

page 248

At intervals since then, other nurses have travelled and the annual conferences held in Wellington, have been most successful. I have much enjoyed attending them, and listening to the fine addresses given, some by missionary nurses and doctors on furlough from their fields of work, and I specially remember an address given by Miss Grant of Napier, which was more eloquent and moving than any sermon I have heard preached.

Until I had a severe illness I remained on the Council as Vice-President, and attended meetings regularly, and since that time, I have been unable to go to them, so I have now been put on the Advisory Board.

The last meeting I was able to go to was at the Conference time, 1931, when Mrs. Tythe Brown kindly came with a friend to drive me out to Khandallah Park, where a picnic was being held. I quite enjoyed meeting the large number of delegates from different places, as well as the local members.

There is no doubt this Movement has been a source of good among the more seriously minded nurses, both in hospital and outside. The Union has prospered, branches have increased and circles are well maintained in the hospitals despite the fact that nurses move about so much that the circles are often deprived of their most energetic members. A scattered nurses' branch was recently started which would embrace nurses who cannot belong to a hospital circle and very successful meetings were held in Napier and in Wellington.