Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Insight into Growing up in Hawke’s Bay Children’s Homes

Media Release
An Insight into Growing up in Hawke’s Bay Children’s Homes

The often harrowing and sometimes heartening stories of fourteen people who grew up in children’s homes in Hawke’s Bay are told in a book to be launched on the EIT campus.

An internationally-recognised academic historian of education and a research professor at EIT, author Kay Morris Matthews says Who Cared? Childhoods within Hawke’s Bay Children’s Homes and Orphanages 1892-1988 is a snapshot of the experiences of thousands of youngsters – orphaned, illegitimate, abandoned or destitute – who lived part or all of their childhoods in eight institutions that operated in the region.

The book will be launched on November 22 by John McKinnon, a Hastings resident who grew up in France House, a home in the Esk Valley for teenage boys. Others whose accounts are included in the book, many now very elderly, will also attend the launch.

The first to analyse New Zealand childhoods spent in institutions, Dr Morris Matthews says most people have forgotten or have never known about these atypical upbringings. Many are surprised that the last such home in Hawke’s Bay closed as recently as 24 years ago.

Dr Morris Matthews accessed publicly available information on Hawke’s Bay children’s homes while researching archival material for upcoming museum exhibitions. More generally, institutional archives are embargoed to protect the privacy of those raised in these homes.

Recognising the need to document this important chapter in New Zealand history, Dr Morris Matthews delved into school and government records and, with the help of family and friends, sought out people who had experienced institutional childhoods at first-hand.

All those approached agreed to being interviewed and, given the opportunity to read what had been written, to having their stories published under their names and identifying the institution in which they had lived.

“It was quite an experience interviewing these people,” Dr Morris Matthews says. “I told them I did not want to upset them or to explore anything they did not want to recall but that they were the last of the children to grow up in such homes and that their stories would otherwise be lost.”

There were many raw emotional moments in speaking of their experiences. Some were aggrieved, describing institutions where the culture was tough and there was little ‘caring’ and predictable daily routines included large doses of religion.

Most children were only three or four years old when admitted, and they suffered long-term effects of emotional abuse that included adult sarcasm and being ‘put in the hole’ – a dark cupboard under the stairs – for hours at a time.

A more positive theme was of youngsters who developed self-reliance and resilience at an early age.

“For some, the children they grew up with remained ‘like family’ all their lives, and their networks and friendships remain strong.”

In providing historical context for the development of children’s homes, Dr Morris Matthews outlines the efforts of the Queen’s Fund Committee, an organisation comprising local women who challenged decisions made by the all-male Hawke’s Bay Charitable Aids Board to ensure better support for families struggling under difficult circumstances.

The efforts of Amelia Randall are a particular highlight. This widow – a niece of Napier entrepreneur Henry Tiffen and a highly capable businesswoman in her own right – helped found the first Hawke’s Bay children’s home in 1892 and left a substantial bequest to continue her charitable work.

“If Hawke’s Bay in general has not heard of her,” Dr Morris Matthews says, “I feel this book has put her back on the map.”

Priced at $30, Who Cares? Childhoods within Hawke’s Bay Children’s Homes and Orphanages 1892-1988 was designed and printed by EIT Reprographics and is distributed by Otatara Bookshop

Hawke’s Bay Children’s Homes and Orphanages
• Bethany Receiving Home (1896-1978), Napier
• St Mary’s Receiving Home (1915-40), Napier
• St Hilda’s Orphanage (1918-1958), Otane
• Abbotsford Home (1926-61), Waipawa
• The Hawke’s Bay Children’s Home – Randall House and Gordon House ((1892-1966), Napier
• France House (1924-73), Eskdale
• Hillsbrook Children’s Home (1947-1988), Havelock North

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Key In NY: Prime Minister Addresses United Nations

Prime Minister John Key has addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York, focusing on a call for action in Syria and on other conflicts, reform of the veto process and on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. More>>.


Gordon Campbell: On The Lack Of Accountability Over Philip Smith

In New Zealand, accountability is an exotic creature rarely glimpsed at ministerial level, or among senior management. The flight to Rio by the paedophile /murderer Philip John Smith/Traynor is no exception. More>>


More On Corrections

Gordon Campbell: On Putin’s Diplomatic Coup Over Syria

There’s a simple historical precedent for what is occurring in Syria. During WWII, the Allies joined forces with a known butcher and tyrant – Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union – in order to defeat a greater evil, Nazi Germany… More>>


Key 'Didn't Know': Brownlee Seeks Pandas In China

While Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee is in China pushing a taxpayer funded deal to bring two pandas to New Zealand, the country’s military look set to be hit with a pay freeze, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. More>>


Scoop Business: GCSB Willing To Extend Cyber-Attack Programme To Local ISPs

The Government Communications Security Bureau’s ‘Cortex’ cyber-security programme has been successful in helping identify and mitigate a series of cyber attacks since its introduction and an extension to cover local internet service providers is still on the cards... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Chris Brown Furore

Thank goodness Dame Tariana Turia has been able to inject a bit of common sense into the Chris Brown visa issue – her argument being that forgiveness has a place in this decision, and there is an opportunity here that should be taken... More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news