Remembering Annie Holgate: pioneering district nurse Annie Holgate is remembered for her professionalism, compassion and courage. She was also instrumental in establishing the New Zealand Trained Nurses' Association.This year marks the centenary of the Wellington branch of the New ZealandTrained Nurses' Association. The first meeting of this branch in 1905 formed the basis of what became the national professional body for new Zealand New Zealand (zē`lənd), island country (2005 est. pop. 4,035,000), 104,454 sq mi (270,534 sq km), in the S Pacific Ocean, over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) SE of Australia. The capital is Wellington; the largest city and leading port is Auckland. nurses. It is therefore timely to acknowledge the contribution of Annie Holgate, hitherto barely mentioned in New Zealand nursing history, yet who, it could be argued, was the instigator in·sti·gate
tr.v. in·sti·gat·ed, in·sti·gat·ing, in·sti·gates
1. To urge on; goad.
2. To stir up; foment.
[Latin of what is now NZNO NZNO New Zealand Nurses Organisation .
Annie Holgate was a nurse of considerable influence from 1901-1911 in Aotearoa New Zealand. She was New Zealand's second professional district nurse and pioneered district nursing in the North Island. She was acknowledged a number of times in parliamentary reports for her work among people with tuberculosis tuberculosis (TB), contagious, wasting disease caused by any of several mycobacteria. The most common form of the disease is tuberculosis of the lungs (pulmonary consumption, or phthisis), but the intestines, bones and joints, the skin, and the genitourinary, , in the field of nurse education and as the owner of a private hospital.
Holgate trained as a nurse at London's Middle-sex Hospital from 1892-1896, gained her London obstetric ob·stet·ric or ob·stet·ri·cal
Of or relating to the profession of obstetrics or the care of women during and after pregnancy.
pertaining to or emanating from obstetrics. diploma in 1899 and was a certified See certification. masseuse masseuse /mas·seuse/ (-sldbomacz´) [Fr.] a woman who performs massage. . (1) She was recorded as no 226 on the newly opened New Zealand Nurses' Register in 1902 and is the sixth person on the New Zealand Register of Midwives. (2)
Holgate began her New Zealand nursing career working with Nurse Maude as a district nurse in Christchurch. An article in the Lyttleton Times 1901 descrbed her as having "nursed with some of the great surgeons of London". (3) It is probable Hotgate met Sibylla Maude (Later to found district nursing in Christchurch) at Middlesex Hospital The Middlesex Hospital was opened in 1745 as the Middlesex Infirmary in Windmill Street, W1. The Infirmary started with 18 beds to provide medical treatment for the poor. Funding came from subscriptions and in 1747, the hospital became the first in England to add 'lying-in' (inpatient) where they had both trained.
By 1903, Holgate had moved to Wellington to pioneer district nursing in the city. At least two years earlier, the St John Ambulance Association had intended to employ a "fully qualified and State Registered nurse" to work among the sick poor of Wellington. (4) No hospital would take people with incurable incurable /in·cur·a·ble/ (in-kur´ah-b'l)
1. not susceptible of being cured.
2. a person with a disease which cannot be cured.
adj. or chronic conditions at that time and it was seen that a professional district nurse could make a difference in the lives of those otherwise unable to afford health care. Her practice included obstetrics obstetrics (ŏbstĕ`trĭks), branch of medicine concerned with the treatment of women during pregnancy, labor, childbirth (see birth), and the time after childbirth. , surgical, chronic, acute and emergency care. She attended people in their homes or at her office (attached to her home). Employed by the St John Ambulance Nursing Guild, Holgate's salary was derived from public donations. Her responsibilities also included teaching home nursing classes, data collection related to her practice, attending meetings and fundraising events. By the end of 1904, Holgate had moved on and two other nurses were carrying on the district nurse work she pioneered. (5) A significant public health problem she encountered in her practice was tuberculosis. Wellington was no exception. One report described how a patient with advanced disease improved dramatically under her care. Nursed in an open air tent, his sleep and appetite improved, he gained weight, was able to take dairy walks and continued to improve. (6) Holgate appears to have continued this work beyond her employment with St John and was singled out in the 1904 Public Health report on tuberculosis tabled in Parliament. It stated that Holgate was doing excellent work among tuberculosis sufferers of the "working-class" in Wellington, but was "sadly hampered" by a tack of funds. (7) In 1905 it was noted that Holgate had given a large amount of time to setting up a smart tent sanatorium sanatorium /san·a·to·ri·um/ (san?ah-tor´e-um) an institution for treatment of sick persons, especially a private hospital for convalescents or patients with chronic diseases or mental disorders. in Wellington and was "deserving de·serv·ing
Worthy, as of reward, praise, or aid.
de·serving·ly adv. of all praise" for her excellent work. (8)
Holgate also operated a private hospital in Wellington; originally in Arlington Street and later in McDonald Crescent. Again she is acknowledged in a parliamentary report on the inspection of private hospitals where it was noted that for "maternity and minor gynaecological adj. 1. Of or pertaining to gynecology; same as gynecological.
Adj. 1. gynaecological - of or relating to or practicing gynecology; "gynecological examination"
gynecologic, gynecological cases, Mrs Holgate has a nice house." (9,10)
Holgate was also involved in nurse education, at one stage listed as an examiner in "practical work" of nursing candidates for state registration and later on the Board of Examiners of Registered Nurses. (11)
Holgate's commitment to professional issues is highlighted when in 1905 a smart group of nurses met in her home to form the Wellington Private Nurses' Association. It is suggested that she initiated this first meeting and was secretary. (2) In 1909, the Wellington Association joined with similar groups from Dunedin (formed in 1907) and Christchurch (1908). The professional focus widened to all trained nurses and a national body named the New Zealand Trained Nurses' Association (NZTNA) was formed. The Wellington group assumed a readership role and Holgate's contribution is noted by early nurse leaders Hester MacLean and Edna Pengelly. (12,13,14)
In December 1910, Holgate occupied the chair as vice-president at the fifth annual meeting of the Wellington Branch of the NZTNA. Her address gives some smart insight into her confessed "deep interest" in professional issues. (15) Shortly after this, it appears she left New Zealand. A tribute published in Kai kai
NZ informal food [Maori]
noun N.Z. (informal) food, grub (slang) provisions, fare, board, commons, eats (slang Tiaki on her departure acknowledged her "wholehearted whole·heart·ed
Marked by unconditional commitment, unstinting devotion, or unreserved enthusiasm: wholehearted approval.
whole " efforts, the "uphill work" and initial difficulties with which she had to contend to raise the professional status of nursing in New Zealand. (2) Holgate's personal circumstances are unknown. She emerges from history as influential and was considered a "prominent nurse" by her peers in the first decade of the 20th century in New Zealand. (10) A woman of energy, compassion, courage and intelligence, it can be said that her vision has made a permanent mark on nursing in New Zealand. Her obituary was published in Kai Tiaki in January 1921:
"We have with great regret to record the death of Mrs Holgate, the originator of the Trained Nurses' Association in New Zealand. Mrs Holgate had of late years resided in England, and during the Great War gave her services in France, until her health broke down." (16)
Kerri Arcus, RN, BN, MA (appl, nsg), is a lecturer at Whitireia Community Polytechnic's Nursing Centre of Learning. This article is based on historical research undertaken for her master's study at Victory University of Wellington.
For the list of references, please contact the author on email K.Arcus@whitireia.ac.nz.