100th Anniversary of the opening of the Queen Mary Hospital Soldier’s Rehabilitation Block

Soldiers WardSoldiers block plaque

In just over two weeks time, dignitaries and other invited guests will join Hurunui District Council Mayor and supporters from all over the country at an exciting weekend of celebration and formal commemorative activities to mark  the 100 year anniversary of the opening of the historic Hanmer Springs  Soldiers’ Block in the grounds of the former Queen Mary Hospital for Sick and Wounded Soldiers.

This Category 1 Historic Building was officially opened in 1916 for war veterans returning from the Great War suffering from shell shock and other war-related mental and nervous disorders.

The building holds national and potentially even international significance as one of only two remaining ‘Soldiers’ Block’ hospitals in New Zealand - and it is the only one remaining on its original site.

 

As part of the World War 1 Centenary Commemorations, a special weekend of events is planned to celebrate and remember the important part the Soldier’s Block played in the lives of the soldiers from the Great War:

Friday 10 June 2016

(from mid-afternoon)

•  Street theatre throughout the village

•  Multi-media displays in strategic locations within the village

•  “For King and Country” movie – Memorial Hall Gallery 6pm & 8pm

 

Saturday 11 June 2016

•  11am & 1pm Guided tours of Queen Mary Hospital grounds

•  Village Market Day 10-3pm, at the front of the Soldiers’ Block

•  Street theatre throughout the village

•  Multi-media displays in strategic locations within the village

•  Soldiers Block exhibition including re-enactments 9am – 4pm

•  “For King and Country” movie Memorial Hall Gallery 11am, 2pm & 4pm

•  7:30pm – 11pm Old Time Ball with the New Zealand Army Band– Memorial Hall (tickets sold out)

 

Sunday 12 June 2016

• 9.30am parade of mounted horses, Simpson’s Donkey and other potential personnel through Queen Mary grounds

• 10am – Memorial service at Soldiers Block including:

o Unveiling of Memorial Fountain and commemorative plaque

o  Speeches and performances

o  Followed by high tea for dignitaries

o  New Zealand Army Band

•  11am & 1pm Guided tours of Queen Mary Hospital grounds

•  “For King and Country” movie Memorial Hall Gallery 11am, 2pm & 4pm

 

Everyone is welcome to attend some or all of the celebrations.

For more information regarding the weekend please contact.

 

Jason Fletcher
315-7582
Jason.fletcher@hurunui.govt.nz

David Smith
Phone 03 315 7763
Email
Mobile 0274 311 212

Further information on the Soldier’s Block

With a total floor space of 1850 square metres, the Soldier’s Block is the only double-octagonal shaped ward still standing in New Zealand and is celebrated as a building of national significance. The uncommon octagonal form of the wards with a central octagonal nurses’ station was an efficient plan to maximise patients and minimise staff numbers necessary for supervision. The design, by architects Hoggard, Prouse and Gummer is believed to be unique internationally, and was based on the contemporary medical belief in fresh air, good ventilation, sun and location in a park-like setting to improve recovery for patients. The hospital also utilised the medical benefits believed to be obtained from bathing in the local thermal waters.
The Soldiers' Block is the only intact and complete example of this type of military design used for hospitals in New Zealand during World War One.
By Easter 1917, the Soldiers' Block housed nearly 100 men. From June 1919 until December 1921, 1,134 soldiers and ex-soldiers were treated for functional nervous disorders.
The hospital later became a treatment centre for those with functional nervous disorders, and later an internationally recognised facility for the treatment of drug and alcohol dependencies up until 2003.
Currently empty, it remains an important reminder of the need to care for soldiers returning from the First World War with mental disorders from the fighting.
The ownership of 5.1 hectares of the Queen Mary Hospital was passed from the Canterbury District Health Board to the Department of Conservation in 2008, where it was subsequently vested in the Hurunui District Council as an historic and recreational reserve. The 5.1 hectare site contains the hospital’s three oldest buildings and was registered as category one site by the Historic Places Trust in 2005.
The oldest of the three buildings for lease, known as the Soldier’s Block, was built in 1916 for injured soldiers returning from World War One.