Topic: WHO CARED? Childhoods within Hawke's Bay Children's Homes and Orphanages 1892 - 1988

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This book by Kay Morris Matthews looks at the stories behind some of these establishments.

WHO CARED? Childhoods within Hawke's Bay Children's Homes and Orphanages 1892 - 1988 - Kay Morris Matthews.

If you are interested in reading this book in full, CHB District Libraries have a copy avaialable to borrow.

Taken from Chapter One

This book traces and analyses the development of regional benevolence alongside state legislation and funding to support children from 1892 to 1988. It aims to make visible, for the first time, a variety of perspectives on childhoods lived within institutions.

This is a history of generations of children: those who were illegitimate (later termed ex-nuptial); those who were abandoned; those who were destitute; and those who still had either one parent or both parents living, but were separated from them because of desperate circumstances to do with poverty or illness, gaining or retaining paid emloyment, desertion and/or marriage breakdown.

The story here centres on three interwoven themes: the children and their childhoods within the children's homes; the beliefs and attitudes of those who ran the children's homes; and the perspectives of government officials who regulated and inspected the children's homes. The unpacking of each of these themes highlights the ways in which economic, social, political, cultural and religious influences have, at different times and in different ways, both enabled and constrained the care and protection of children raised within institutions.


Hawke's Bay Children's Homes and Orphanages Established Prior to 1950

(All registered by 1929 as Children's Homes under the Child Welfare Amendment Act, 1927)

Hawke's Bay Children's Home (for girls and boys) 1892 - 1909

Established in 1892 in Burlington Road, Napier Hill, Napier by the Hawke's Bay Children't Homes Trust. Later divided into three institutions managed by the Trust:

     Randall House (for girls aged 4-15) 1909 - 1966    

          Coote Rd/Priestley Rd 1909 - 1945, then Napier Terrace, Napier Hill

     Gordon House (for boys aged 4-15) 1910 - 1924; (for boys aged 4-10) 1924 - 1948

          Coote Rd/ Priestley Rd, Napier Hill, 1910-1948. Amalgamated with Randall House on Napier Terrace site, 1949-1966

     France House (for boys aged 10-15) 1924 - 1973

          Shaw Road, Eskdale

Bethany Home (for girls and boys aged 0-4) 1896 - 1978

Coote Rd, then Fitzroy Rd, Napier Hill, Napier. Closed after being damaged in 1931 earthquake. Re-opened 1938. Relocated 1942 to 42 Morris St, Nelson Park, Napier. Operated 1896 - 1914 by Miss Parve, a Seventh Day Adventist, who gifted the property to the Salvation Army. Operated 1914 - 1978 by the Slavation Army.

St Mary's Receiving Home (for girls and boys aged 0-4) 1915 - 1940

Burlington Road / Finnis Lane, Napier Hill, Napier. Operated by the Anglican Church.

St Hilda's Orphanage (for girls and boys aged 4-15) 1918 - 1958

Higginson Street, Otane, 1918 - 1952; transferred to Waipawa, 1953 - 1958. Operated by the Anglican Church.

Abbotsford Home (for girls and boys aged 4-15) 1925 - 1986

Abbotsford Road, Waipawa. Operated by the Anglican Church.

Hillsbrook Children's Home (for girls and boys aged 3-15) 1947 - 1988

Te Mata Road, Havelock North. Operated by the Presbyterian Church.

Other Children's Home in the East Coast Region

Napier Receiveing Home (for girls and boys aged 0-15) 1946 - 1950

Francis Street, Greenmeadows, Napier. Operated by the Child Welfare Division of the Department of Education.

Edward Murphy Memorial Maternity Home, Gisborne (for girls and boys aged 0-4) 1920 - 1975

Aberdeen Road, Gisborne. Operated by the Salvation Army and registered as a Bethany Home.

Heni Materoa Children's Home, Gisborne (for girls and boys aged 0-15) 1913>

Founded by Lady Carroll (formerly Heni Materoa) and operated by the Cook County Women's Guild. Also operated as a day care centre and short term stay centre for children during its history.


Taken From Chapter Eight

Whose children?

By 1926. there were seven Hawke's Bay children's homes and orphanages, catering for a total of approximately 200 children, at a time when the regional population was 65,569. At first reading, this number seems high, and in fact it was. Provinces with populations similar to Hawke's Bay had far fewer children's homes: for example, Taranaki (pop. 67,653) had only one boys' home at Eltham, and Southland (pop 65,173) had one boys' home and one girls' home. Otago, with double the population (149,579), also had seven institutions in 1926.


Last words: Growing up in a children's home

As adults, those who lived in the homes remain grateful to all who helped them in some way. Yet the provision of the basic necessities and even the occasional treat were secondary to the type of caring they yearned for: the emotional caring, the hugs, the cuddles and the individual undivided attention of someone who loved them. Most emphasised this in relation either to feeling frightened in a new environment, or to being raised alongside twenty or thirty others. As adults, they realised that the staff had not been permitted physical contact with them, and expressed empathy for those raising so many children at once. For them, the caring they craved as children had simply not been possible.

Instead, regardless of whether they were born in the 1920s or the 1970s, they spoke of those who were important to them in their childhoods - their peers, with whom they were raised, an adult who took a special interest in them or influenced them at a pivotal time. These were to prove enduring life-long friendships, a point of reference to a sense of belonging.

As they told me their stories, I was overwhelmed by a common thread. Today we call it resilience. All had an undeniable bounce-back attitude with an independent streak, a conviction that from a young age, they had only themselves to depend on. This book then has set out for the first time an account of a unique set of childhoods, of those who lived in the children's homes of Hawke's Bay.

If you are interested in reading this book in full, CHB District Libraries have a copy avaialable to borrow.

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WHO CARED? Childhoods within Hawke's Bay Children's Homes and Orphanages 1892 - 1988 by jochubb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License