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Urged for more than fifty years: veterinary education in New Zealand, c1900-1964.

After the 1907 collapse of the new Otago University Veterinary School, a gap of over half a century elapsed before the Massey University Veterinary Faculty was opened in 1964. This interval means linear professionalisation accounts from pre-modern animal care by farriers and cow leeches to modern cadres of scientific veterinarians (2) are challenged by contingent and particular features in the New Zealand setting. The educational sequence is inevitably linked with other aspects of society, economy and workforce around the veterinary 'professional project'. (3) Limited research into veterinary development and education in New Zealand includes accounts by veterinarians--Laing's monographs, (4) Shortridge, Smith and Gardner's history of the veterinary profession, (5) and Burns' historical sociology thesis. (6)

Thus while activity to establish a New Zealand veterinary school around 1900 drew on colonial and modernising discourses and examples of veterinary educational projects overseas, these were contextual to the historical events in this country. (7) Most of the thirty European veterinary schools set up in the late-eighteenth-early nineteenth centuries, were in response to European cattle epidemics. (8) The London Veterinary College (1791) (9) and the Edinburgh Veterinary School (1823) (10) shaped British and American colonial veterinary developments, and Glasgow's Veterinary School was opened in 1860. A British 1844 Royal Charter declared veterinary science a profession, and members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) were to be distinguished by the title of veterinary surgeon. (11) Entry was controlled by the 'uni-portal' student examination, the only way to become a member (MRCVS) until 1948, when gaining a university degree became sufficient for registration. The British 1881 Veterinary Surgeons Act banned unqualified practitioners using any title, addition or description claiming special medical and surgical qualifications for treating animals. It listed qualified veterinarians on a Statutory Register, though many persons not formally qualified continued in practice. (12)

From this wider context of veterinary change, New Zealand veterinary education is reviewed here in several steps. First, initiatives of the government's new Department of Agriculture and how these played out in the unsuccessful attempt to establish a New Zealand veterinary school around 1900 are described. Second, the educational significance of the 1926 Veterinary Surgeons Act is outlined. Third, growing rural demand for veterinarians in the 1930-40s, and subsidised training of veterinarians overseas for the new farmer veterinary clubs. is documented. Fourth, the supply of veterinarians trained outside New Zealand by the Veterinary Services Council 1946-64 is examined--this VSC work occurring amid ongoing argument about the need for national New Zealand veterinary training, ultimately leading to Massey's veterinary faculty.

New Zealand Department of Agriculture and the push for veterinary education

The New Zealand Department of Agriculture was formed in 1892 by combining the agricultural section of the Land Department and the Stock Department. (13) Before then only one veterinarian, John McClean, MRCVS, had been employed by the government to prepare a series of reports on the incidence of stock diseases in districts throughout the country. (14) Two young British veterinarians were recruited to the new Department, John Gilruth and Charles Reakes, both MRCVS. Their administrative energy especially that of Gilruth, and up-to-date education and expertise rapidly expanded veterinary and health advice, technical assistance, and educative functions for the Department. (15) Gilruth headed the Veterinary Division formed within the Department in 1895 during an anthrax outbreak, and after spending 1896 studying at the Pasteur Institute, Paris, he became Chief Veterinarian. Such was his influence in pursuing veterinary projects that the period to his departure in 1908 has been termed the 'Gilruth Era'. (16)

The handful of qualified Department veterinarians grew by five in 1899, ten in 1900 and a further fifteen in 1901, a rapid expansion. (17) The last cohort of these imported veterinarians staffed the new 1900 Slaughtering and Inspection Act and personnel were mainly located in freezing works. The rate of expansion eased after this but the wider veterinary population continued to increase steadily as more veterinarians were employed in response the growth of farming, particularly dairying. (18)

The educational tone that formed this new generation of qualified veterinarians followed from Gilruth's Glasgow Veterinary School training and MRCVS qualification. (19) Mostly only other qualified MRCVS veterinarians were employed by the Department. This set an educational benchmark and reflected colonial-imperial links to Britain. MRCVS remained the main educational standard for several decades even beyond the passage of the Veterinary Surgeons Act. Although there was little alternative, from one perspective it might be seen to have created a pattern of dependency, suppressing demand for locally trained personnel, with reliance later shifted to Australian veterinary training providers from the 1930s onwards.

The movement in New Zealand for the establishment of a professional veterinary occupation was proposed, as earlier in Britain, via a Register of Veterinary Surgeons to clearly distinguish qualified and unqualified practitioners. (20) It took three decades to bring about the 1926 legislation. It was begun by Gilruth soon after coming to New Zealand in 1893, (21) and a number of his Annual Reports as Chief Veterinarian contain sections urging registration for veterinarians. For instance, his Report of 1899 stated:
   I desire to draw your attention to the absence of legal status for
   veterinary surgeons. On careful examination it must appear
   anomalous that, in a colony which does so much for the
   agriculturalist and stock-owner there are no requirements regarding
   the qualifications of those who may care to assume the
   responsibility of treating the lower animals in ill-health, and no
   means of preventing the deception of the stock-owning public. (22)

Such a line of argument was far from generally accepted, the idea of restricting competition reminding some of concerns elsewhere against professional monopolies and restraint of trade. (23) Farmers and others were not easily convinced. In further expanding his argument, Gilruth's skill in making as good a case as possible for the profession and other parties is evident. Recognising that such restriction of the profession could only be brought about with the approval of the state, the acquiescence at least of the farming community, and without the organised opposition of unqualified practitioners, he then went on to urge the advantages that would benefit each of the groups concerned:
   Turning, however, to the stock-owners' more immediate interests ...
   it is imperative that the Government should protect its own name
   ... No-one recognises more than I do, the unquestionable value of
   many of the local practitioners ... Registration would be preferred
   even by the unqualified practitioners themselves, who would thus
   have a definite legal status. (24)

The claim that even unqualified practitioners would prefer registration seems to be wishful thinking, though Gilruth acknowledged the argument of self-interest for qualified veterinarians, noting 'I have not entered into that for the reason that if registration cannot be shown to be good for the general public, there can be little in its favour, especially in a country that offers no means of qualification'. (25)

The Otago University Veterinary School, 1904-1907

Members of the new Veterinary Division of the Department of Agriculture influenced the first attempt to set up a university training school for veterinarians. (26) However, the Division was not the source of the school's demise. The attempt can be seen in terms of similar movements for university-level veterinary schools in Australia demonstrating parallel social and education changes. In Australia an early feature was the establishment of a non-university veterinary school in 1888 under the guidance of William Kendall. Somewhat later:
   through much agitation by individuals and by the Australian
   Veterinary Association during the 1890s and early 1900s, veterinary
   schools were proposed for both the University of Melbourne and the
   University of Sydney. In 1909, Melbourne had its first intake of
   students, while Sydney took its first students in 1910. (27)

Since his arrival in New Zealand Gilruth had promoted a veterinary school to departmental colleagues, government officials, politicians, educators and farmers. After several years of discussions, in 1904 a formal proposal for a veterinary school at Otago University was made. Prime Minister Richard Seddon agreed with the proposal and offered government funding. One driver of government support was training stock inspectors and other Department officers under the 1900 Slaughtering and Inspection Act. Gilruth and H.C. Wilkie, FRCVS, working with a New Zealand University Council committee, estimated set-up and annual running costs of a veterinary school at 800 [pounds sterling] and 1500 [pounds sterling] respectively. Additional staff would be needed--two professors and an assistant, plus a hospital surgeon and assistant. The proposal hung until 1906 when it was taken up again. (28)

Under Gilruth's direction a four-year Bachelor of Veterinary Science curriculum was prepared. This proposed adding the full complement of staff successively as the initial year's class of students progressed. The government, however, decided not to make the training a requirement for Veterinary Division inspectors, and when the degree was first offered in 1907 there were no enrolments. Although the course was meant to cater for the needs of the government Veterinary Division and be open to students generally, repeated claims have been made that it became apparent that a four-year course was too severe for the class of men who, it was expected, would form the bulk of the students'. (29) This view, however, begs several questions. A reduced two-year Certificate in Animal Hygiene subsequently arranged also lapsed.

Additional research may reveal what kind and amount of promotion or publicity attended the development of the new veterinary degree. Without knowledge of the new degree, potential students obviously could not enrol, but even this appears unlikely to be the basic issue. A further doubt is raised when the Sydney school had sixteen applicants in its first year of instruction in 1910 and signs of pent-up demand being finally met. (30) Such contemporary evidence sits at odds with the first Massey Dean, Ira Cunningham's later repetition of the old assertion that it 'was apparent that a four-year course was too exacting for the men who would form the bulk of the students--i.e. those who would be employed as Inspectors in the Department of Lands and Agriculture.' (31) The timing and commitments of key personnel involved in this educational initiative sketched below indicate that other explanations than lack of demand, or low incidence of disease, suggest a more complex interpretation of events. A better clue is Cunningham's other observation that 'The Minister of that Department stated that he would not at that time require inspectors to qualify as veterinary surgeons. The teaching proposals were thus not supported by services most likely to be employers of men to be trained'. (32) Departmental politics, then, were intertwined with local and regional wrangling, as well as the assertion of broader farming political interests. (33)

A second observation about the history of veterinary education in New Zealand at this time also requires further research. The New Zealand government received but did not pass on to Gilruth the offer of a very highly remunerated position with the South African government. When Gilruth eventually heard about this offer he resigned, and in 1908 became first chair of Veterinary Pathology at the University of Melbourne's new Veterinary School, (34) making a substantial contribution in Australia over many years. (35) The consequences for veterinary education in all three countries by this sudden relocation of Gilruth is hard to estimate, but deserves re-inspection. Recall his arrival in New Zealand as an educated and ambitious twenty-two year old--he led a government Veterinary Division with twenty-five qualified veterinarians, (36) had achieved the 1900 legislation for hygiene standards, implemented a veterinary laboratory at Wallaceville by 1905, pursued professional veterinary legislation on the basis of educational qualifications, and was about to set up ahead of Australia and South Africa a university veterinary school, only to suddenly leave all this, in apparent mid-stream. The combination of personalities, politics and opportunity requires further unravelling.

Looking back after the launching of the Veterinary School at Massey University in 1964, Cunningham stated that it was 'the need for trained persons for inspectorial and similar work--i.e., for work other than meat inspection that was one of the reasons behind the first--unsuccessful proposals to establish a veterinary school in New Zealand'. (37) While Cunningham did not canvass the politics around Gilruth, he did point to another issue, remarking that training of stock inspection veterinarians was 'but a secondary consideration' to more overt educational and regional politics. Gilruth's proposal entered a political struggle between regional and educational interests each wanting to have professional schools in their region (Otago, Canterbury in the south, and the newer Wellington and Auckland university colleges in the north). There was 'no technical justification nor sufficient finance to permit duplication' (38) but politicking over existing schools of mines and medicine, and the proposed dentistry and veterinary schools was strong. Substantial lobbying by regions and changing positions by government each contributed to the failure of the veterinary school to receive strong endorsement or enrolments.' (39)

Other New Zealand professional training schools such as Otago law and medicine were at very low ebbs in terms of educational quality at this time, and this also needs to be factored into any analysis. Along with Gilruth's departure, some MRCVS veterinarians moved from the Department into clinical practice, and with the continuing wrangling over specialised university schools, the veterinary school initiative subsided. Subsequent efforts to revive the proposal, including three separate attempts to buy land by the university, continued at intervals until 1914, when the outbreak of World War I finally closed the window of opportunity. (40) Veterinary education then took a distinct path in New Zealand, following the burgeoning dairying and sheep industries, but it was a half-century later before economic and political circumstances resulted in a second veterinary school.

Educational significance of the 1926 Veterinary Surgeons Act

The central importance of the 1926 Veterinary Surgeons Act in the educational history of New Zealand was making registration for veterinarians compulsory, with evidence of formal training required. It represented thirty years of campaigning by Gilruth and his successors, but even then the idea of restriction was still a contested issue, and needed considerable efforts, including those of Member of Parliament veterinarian H.S.S. Kyle, before it was enacted. (41) Gilruth's 1890s arguments for veterinary qualifications had been continued by his successor as Chief Veterinarian C.V. Reakes who also became the first president of the New Zealand Veterinary Association. (42)

The new Association was created by and for qualified veterinarians in New Zealand, these often recruited from overseas to the Department of Agriculture. Many veterinarians attended the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science conference in 1923, and 'the stimulus of Woodruff's presence as President of the Australian Veterinary Association also influenced the immediate context in which the decision to form an association was made'. (43) From its 1923 inception the Association was active in promoting compulsory veterinary registration based on educational qualifications, and the value of a New Zealand veterinary school. Though not one of the six objects of the new Association, support for degree training in New Zealand permeated its activities. (44)

The 1926 Veterinary Surgeons Act for the first time required all veterinarians in New Zealand to be registered. A four-man Veterinary Surgeons Board administered the Act and held the Register. The Act outlined eligibility criteria, the conditions of appeal if applications were declined, and what constituted an offence within the meaning of the Act. The Act created three categories of person according to their qualifications and veterinary education, and made it illegal for anyone to use terms or titles implying they were veterinarians, unless registered by the Board. The first category excluded individuals who had no veterinary qualifications from doing veterinary work.

The second category in the Act comprised unqualified persons earning regular income from veterinary work for a decade or more before 1926. They could continue their occupation, but once this supplementary register was closed off no further persons could be added. This sunset' clause achieved a compromise between various interests: higher technical standards, qualified veterinarians, government priorities concerning stock health and hygiene protocols, and made little immediate impact on unqualified practitioners, though eventually this group disappeared.
   Any person who has practised as a veterinary surgeon for not less
   than ten years immediately prior to the commencement of this Act,
   may notwithstanding that he may not be qualified to be registered
   under this Act, continue in practice, and may use in connection
   with his business the designation of 'veterinary practitioner' if
   he lodges his name with the Minister of Agriculture not later than
   twelve months after the commencement of this Act, and satisfies him
   that he has been practising as aforesaid and that he is of good
   character and repute. (45)

Forty-eight of the most competent or active of this occupational group were added to the supplementary list as veterinary practitioners' under clause 14(2). It appears there were others not considered proficient enough to be placed on this list or who did not try to get listed. There may have been several dozen such persons, many doing only part-time veterinary work. Rural veterinary care was still not too far removed from nineteenth century animal care patterns: farmers with veterinary ability, rural doctors, farriers and chemists, continued to supply a considerable proportion of the demand. (46)

The third educational category defined by the 1926 Act comprised qualified veterinarians. Using the terminology of that time, only qualified and registered veterinary surgeons' were allowed to advertise or in any way hold themselves out to be veterinary surgeons or veterinarians. A number of prosecutions, warning correspondence, and censures were recorded in the Board's meeting minutes in the first years under the 1926 legislation, establishing a line between educated veterinarians and others. In the first gazetted notice of qualified veterinarians under the Act in 1928, fifty-two veterinarians, mostly MRCVS, were listed.

In the two decades up to the 1926 Act, five-yearly Censuses had reported the number of persons practising as veterinarians in New Zealand at between eighty and ninety. It is impossible now to precisely determine what percentage of this number had veterinary qualifications of some kind. It is interesting to note, however, that the initial registrations of forty-eight veterinary practitioners' and fifty-two qualified veterinary surgeons' more than account for the Census totals. With the educational boundaries now clearly set in statute, all subsequent veterinarians arriving in the country were registered, though this total did not reach one hundred until 1940.

1930s-1945 veterinary school alternative: training veterinarians in Australia

With this defining shift veterinary work became the province of qualified veterinarians. In the 1930s already-existing dairy co-operatives supplied the infrastructure for employing such veterinarians in organisations called veterinary clubs'. Reakes' 1930 outline of a subscription scheme to finance employing a veterinarian in each dairying district was significant because he was then Director General of the Department of Agriculture. (47) Even before this time, however, at least nine such groups had operated for periods in rural districts since 1900, several allied to dairy factories, some employing qualified veterinarians and others unqualified practitioners. (48) Through the 1930s rural demand for veterinarians grew as more farmers began to apply the 'club' idea. In this period farmer groups employing a veterinarian for their district became a distinctive feature of New Zealand's farming landscape.

Both veterinarians and farmers played central roles in the club movement, although not equally in control, one of each occupation being particularly influential:
   veterinarian Allan Leslie and farmer Andrew Linton. Leslie was a
   key figure in establishing the practical utility of farmers'
   veterinary groups or clubs. Leslie had arrived in New Zealand in
   1928 to teach at Lincoln College. In addition to farmer education
   lectures he was involved in a clinical practice in the surrounding
   district, a variety of research projects with sheep, and veterinary
   extension meetings around the South Island. (49)

Linton was the other prime mover in promoting farmers' veterinary clubs from the beginning of the club movement. He was one of two farmer representatives of the Dairy Board on the Veterinary Services Committee set up in 1943, (50) then becoming chairman of the Veterinary Services Council 1947-1957, and eventually chair of the Dairy Board, the most powerful farming political organisation in the country. (51) His role was pivotal in getting the economic-political engagement of the farming community to create a veterinary service for farmers, through his gravitas, interpersonal skills, and undoubted championship of farmer interests.

The first move in the new direction came when Leslie went to Wellington in the early 1930s and got government subsidies for several students to switch from agriculture courses to veterinary degrees in Australia. (52) This subsidy strategy served as a template for much of what came later. Leslie spent 1936 in further veterinary study at Sydney University. In 1937 Leslie became club veterinarian to a veterinary group set up by the Federation of Taranaki Dairy Companies at Eltham, servicing farmers from five factories. He rapidly reduced animal deaths from disease and injury. This group operated on the basis of salary and overheads met by a butterfat levy on all suppliers, with a per visit charge to meet transport and other costs. Over the next two decades Leslie worked with farmers in the promotion of veterinary clubs, in time becoming Chief Veterinary Executive officer to the Veterinary Services Council. His persuasive powers' won over leading farmers who often needed considerable convincing of the economic advantages of using veterinarians. (53)

As understanding spread of gains to be made from regular veterinary attention, farmers in new districts established their own clubs to provide veterinary services, often after hearing Leslie address a public meeting. A committee would be formed, membership fees and other administrative details sorted, and efforts to obtain a veterinarian would begin. These were farmers running their own committees for their own business ends, not veterinarians or government departmental officers.

Several factors created a sense of enthusiasm among farmers for an idea whose time had come' (54): Leslie's personality, the impressive results, the co-operative ideal, the importance for farm productivity during the war. These converged with the ideal of post-war reconstruction and demand for increasing efficiency, notwithstanding farmer conservatism. Farmer interest in dairying and also non-dairying districts led to experiments with different compulsory and voluntary funding systems as new clubs formed. Farmers' clubs employed sixteen veterinarians by 1942 and this almost doubled a year later to twenty-nine:
   As new clubs were set up there was a continued and increasing
   shortfall in the number of veterinarians obtainable to fill the
   vacancies occurring through the expansion The pressure for getting
   veterinarians became more urgent at ward meetings and other
   conferences in the dairy and sheep industries. (55)

The political machinery of the farming sector was used to make this happen. First, in 1943, a Joint Veterinary Committee of the Dairy and Meat Producer Boards arranged student bursaries to Australia to subsidise the cost of training veterinarians for clubs (400 [pounds sterling] per year for four years; half repayable at 200 [pounds sterling] per year after graduation). Second, also in 1943, a national organisation, the Dominion Federation of Farmers' Veterinary Clubs, was launched to co-ordinate local groups, and within a year seven clubs were linked to it. (56) Its aims included promoting education of the farming community in animal health problems', not simply obtaining veterinarians for clubs. (57)

The shortage of veterinarians continued, however. In mid-1945 the Federation reported that club expansion, 'had not been as rapid as expected owing to the scarcity of trained veterinarians in New Zealand and the difficulty in getting the release and transport of overseas veterinarians'. (58) Clubs poaching veterinarians, higher salary offers, inconsistent housing and transport, some farmer attitudes, variable working conditions, were issues. Even adding more bursaries for New Zealand students to train at Australian veterinary schools had little apparent effect on the volatile situation. A bigger system for producing veterinarians was required.

Third, veterinarians were active as well as farmers. From its Annual General Meeting, the Veterinary Association in June 1943 wrote to the Minister of Agriculture proposing an official committee of all sector groups to investigate the issue of supply of veterinarians. (59) A Veterinary Services Committee was set up to investigate and report on 'the number of veterinarians needed for an efficient service in New Zealand; what annual replacements would be needed to maintain such a service; what activities were best controlled by veterinarians; the best method of organising veterinary services for New Zealand; and the best method of training veterinarians for New Zealand.' (60) This committee immediately arranged to get veterinarians from Britain (eleven selected after advertising), and it standardised existing government student bursaries before allocating more (1944, 14; 1945, 16) at Sydney University. (61) It met regularly over a two-year period.

The Veterinary Services Committee finally reported in January 1945. Despite its earlier practical actions on short and medium-range solutions, its major recommendation was not to build a New Zealand school 'until it is clearly established that New Zealand intends to employ permanently at least 250 veterinarians requiring an annual output of approximately nine graduates'. Views on the committee were split over this recommendation: the majority felt the estimate of about nine veterinarians needed per year did not justify a school, and demand would be more cheaply and simply met by existing strategies. But this was a hotly contested issue and there was sufficiently strong debate and disagreement for a minority report to be produced.

Linton was one of the signatories to this minority report which took the view that 400 was a more likely estimate of veterinary numbers. By applying the same three and a half per cent annual attrition rate the minority report estimated fourteen to sixteen replacement veterinarians were needed each year. The minority report deemed these figures meant a New Zealand veterinary school should be built. (62) Only incidentally was either farmer preference supportive of the veterinary profession as such, and strong opposition to non-farmer control, any veterinary professional control, or other influences was reflected in the ongoing debate over a New Zealand school to train veterinarians. The debate centred on the advantages of guaranteed national supply, versus graduates no longer being subsidised and hence unable to be directed by farmers or the VSC to clubs. It is noteworthy that although rebuffed Linton stayed with the club movement, and led the later VSC.

1946-64 veterinary school alternatives: educating veterinarians in Australia and importing from Europe

The Dominion Federation was superseded by the Veterinary Services Council (VSC) in 1946. It continued to help set up clubs, sponsor university training, and import overseas veterinarians. (63) Council membership included veterinarians and farmers, but was always balanced to maintain farmers' controlling vote. A fuller account of the farmer-veterinarian inter-occupational politics can be found elsewhere, (64) but it had a vital influence in the movement towards a veterinary school. Linton adroitly managed farmer-veterinarian tensions in this period so that both had some space to voice their concerns, and both groups benefited.

The VSC's overseas bursary program for training New Zealand students required constant fine-tuning' in relation to other spending on clubs, within funding limits from government and the farmer producer boards represented on the Council. Maximising the national supply of rural veterinarians was central to the VSC's function. Previously subsidised graduates were bonded to serve in New Zealand in an approved capacity for five years'. (65) As Table 1 shows, 7-14 new student subsidies to Sydney University were granted each year in the first decade of operation, rising to about two dozen per year in the next decade. (66) Over this period student subsidies comprised a quarter of all VSC spending, but rose to over half by 1964. (67)

After the new Massey veterinary faculty commenced Cunningham acknowledged a degree of financial pragmatism in the faculty's delay in the decades prior to 1964:
   The willingness of the Australian Universities to carry the load of
   veterinary teaching removed the urgency for establishing a school
   in New Zealand itself. Despite the cost of university fees and of
   supporting students overseas, and of allocating small grants to
   Australian Universities, it was much cheaper to let Australia
   provide the teaching than to have a school in this country. This
   was clearly recognised in many circles. There was, nevertheless, a
   sustained advocacy from the New Zealand Veterinary Association and
   from some farmer organisations for the setting up of New Zealand's
   own Veterinary Schools. (68)

Through the 1950s even the expanded VSC club system with Leslie and Linton in leadership positions was unable to accommodate the wider changes taking place. On the supply side, as Australian university numbers built up, this added pressure on their teaching and building resources (not only for veterinary schools), and larger VSC grants were demanded. On the demand side, veterinary skills had become an essential input to modern farming. However, some veterinarians preferred less farmer influence and opinions, or liked urban companion animal or government work, and chose to exit club practice. Crunch time was getting closer. During the 1950s the VSC had to negotiate hard to keep student places at Sydney and Brisbane universities. A 1955 delegation to Australia was asked 'Why doesn't an agriculturally dependent country like New Zealand have its own veterinary school?' The VSC had now to pay Sydney an annual grant of $A6,000. This was reviewed two years later, and led to further complicated negotiations and visits, eking out an extension for accepting New Zealand students to 1962. (69)

Table 1 provides a record of the number of students trained through the VSC bursary programme between 1948 and 1969. (70) 260 bursaries were granted by the VSC during this period, close on 100 per cent entering club practice. (71) The table shows the final close-off phase for new bursars after 1962 (1963-14, 1964-4, 1965-4, 1966-1). (72)

Demands for a New Zealand veterinary school grew. The question asked by the Australians appeared to increasing numbers of people to have only one answer. Notwithstanding the Veterinary Services Committee's 1945 negative majority recommendation, by the 1950s more farmers could see the limited results of industry efforts, and the veterinary profession itself was increasingly focused on the urgency of getting a veterinary school. Continuing shortages of club veterinarians remained and more delegates at successive VSC conferences called for a New Zealand school. Every conference after 1951 raised the subject of a veterinary school for New Zealand. (73)

VSC recruiting of British and European veterinarians also aimed to assist expansion of clubs, but movement from clubs into private practice meant the shortage of trained personnel still continued. (74) Further, this import' policy blinkered decision-makers for some years to the long-term shift taking place. For example, in 1948 mainly because of large number of students at Sydney, the VSC blithely remarked 'it has been decided not to assist further veterinarians to New Zealand'. Yet in 1950 veterinary clubs employed sixty-nine veterinarians but still had immediate vacancies for a further thirty-six. The hope of getting sufficient veterinarians via Australian training and 'top-up' imports from Britain and Europe continued to be ritually expressed by the VSC each year. The simple failure to accurately estimate likely growth in demand arose initially because of the rapid expansion of the veterinary club system, and veterinary work generally, but as time went on a further cause became apparent through a flow-on of veterinarians out of the club system into other forms of veterinary employment becoming available to them.

A 1952 VSC conference resolution to government was passed to the University of New Zealand. Veterinarians also approached the Minister directly through their Association. The Minister asked the Senate of the University of New Zealand to examine the question of veterinary education and advise what steps, if any, might be taken in regard to training veterinary surgeons in New Zealand'. The tone of the letter itself indicated a shift:
   It has been urged for more than fifty years that New Zealand should
   support a veterinary school of its own, mainly on the grounds (a)
   that we shall have more veterinarians, and (b) that, as we depend
   almost entirely on the export of animal products, a school would
   have influence in various ways in the prevention of loss and the
   increase of production. (75)

The resulting Committee on Veterinary Education solicited input from ten interested organisations. Those in favour wrote in detail: supporting the establishment of a school; others were content merely to express opposition to the establishment of a veterinary school on the grounds, first, of cost, and secondly, of difficulty in recruiting staffs of the necessary quality'. (76) The committee recognised local veterinary education was central in replacing the two strategies currently in use. (77) Its report stated 'the present procedure of offering bursaries for training men at Sydney University together with importing trained men, is still not yielding a supply of veterinarians equal to New Zealand's needs.' (78) The committee consciously referred back to the 1943-45 deliberations, taking a conciliatory approach by utilising the previous committee's projected 250 veterinarians required nationally. But with currently 217 veterinarians plus forty vacancies, and continuing growth, it estimated new lower/higher projections of 300-500. At four percent attrition rate, low/high numbers of 14-16 or 20-25 additional veterinarians required annually were forecast, easily justifying a school. Establishment and yearly operating estimates of 250,000 [pounds sterling] and 50,000 [pounds sterling] were also calculated. (79) Two formal recommendations were made:

(a) That steps should be taken to establish a veterinary school in New Zealand at an early date.

(b) That the curriculum should be so designed to ensure that graduates be equipped to deal with the specific problems of animal health and production in New Zealand, and that these are acceptable to veterinary registration authorities in the UK and other parts of the Commonwealth. (80)

Successive years' VSC remits continued to reflect frustration at the shortfall of veterinarians, but many farmers were still unwilling to support the proposal for a New Zealand school. Since central government was being asked for funding for a veterinary school, the still-divided farmer opinion about the need for a school meant it deferred such an expensive initiative. Farmers opposed to the school could see that un-sponsored New Zealand graduates would no longer be tied to working in farmer veterinary clubs. There were also fears that a big project such as a veterinary school would cause government funding to producer boards for other things to be reduced. However, by 1960 the dissenting voices within the farming community had been silenced by continuing high demand within New Zealand for veterinarians and Australian universities saying that in the near future all New Zealand students would be refused entry'. (81) In spite of continued negotiations, Sydney would accept no bursars after 1962 and Brisbane only a handful in 1963 and 1964. (82)

Additional political manoeuvring about the location of the school and costs meant further delays. Just prior to this in 1959, following further lobbying by veterinarians and pro-school farmers, and with warning signals from the Australian Universities:
   The Senate of the University took a further step. It asked for its
   Grants Committee to recommend a site for a veterinary school, so
   that what was thought likely to be a thorny question would thus be
   settled beforehand, and would not delay progress after a favourable
   decision had been reached concerning establishment of the school.

This report recommending Massey Agricultural College was approved in February 1960. The committee considered being part of a university and having a location near significant livestock populations were important factors. (84) The government accepted the decision to go ahead with the school in principle later that year but deferred the site decision. Finally, Official notification was given by Sydney University in September 1961, that no more New Zealand veterinary students could be accepted after the intake of 1962'. (85) With this ultimatum to hand, final site difficulties were resolved, and the Massey University Veterinary Faculty was opened in 1964, with thirty-two students entering the first clinical year in 1965. (86)


It is too simple to claim Gilruth's sudden departure from New Zealand accounted for the demise of the Otago veterinary school, though his continued advocacy would have been important. The situation was more complex, with political and financial factors insufficiently aligned, regional rivalries being one aspect of these. Admittedly, Gilruth's role within the Department in this new educational development was undermined by government retreat from requiring inspectors to have veterinary qualifications, and vacillation on funding. Closer evaluation is also required to more fully assess whether farming and educational sectors would at that time have supported a technically advanced veterinary profession.

It is also an insufficient explanation to suggest that Massey's start is primarily the resumption of a veterinary professionalisation narrative. In such a discourse the Otago effort was a 'failure' but that is to make judgements from outside the data. While such a meta-explanation has some support (1) in twentieth century success of professional projects throughout the developed world, and (2) it is an understandable perspective for professional veterinarians, or (3) may reflect a protective sense of New Zealand's national interest, but such social and economic processes still unfold in the local setting. Transition events between the first and second veterinary schools trace out contingent aspects that are open to competing explanations. Three additional influences help interpret the deferral beyond the personal and discursive ones just named.

First, a pragmatic approach was taken by both central government and farmer organisations to obtain veterinarians. In the 1930s farmers' own efforts through local dairy co-operatives were then extended through farming sector political processes to secure veterinarians by the most immediate and practical steps available--mostly by subsidising student places in Australia. At first the long-term trend for more veterinarians was not seen. There was, anyway, no school training veterinarians in New Zealand to draw upon. Only later was the cost of training individual veterinarians computed relative to the set-up and operating costs of a New Zealand school. The pragmatism of training veterinarians overseas can be viewed on this understanding as either relatively cost-efficient, or a reasonable accommodation to insufficient resources in New Zealand. Also, the final decision to found a New Zealand school seems to owe more to Sydney refusing to continue taking New Zealand students than to any great wish to establish a school.

Second, both central government and farmers showed ambivalence about whether a veterinary school was desirable. Farmers were divided in their support for a veterinary school. Veterinarians were not seen by them as a generic professional occupation but as a farming business resource. Both sides of farming opinion were right--those pro-school saw an ongoing, larger need for veterinarians, and this proved to be the case, while those opposed saw loss of farmer control over veterinarians as undermining the whole point of the VSC. Within New Zealand, opinion was not unanimous even in the early sixties after the decision was made. The money not spent on a school by sending students to Australia or importing veterinarians from Europe, was significant and the concern that a costly school would impact the farming community in other ways, suggests that this industry strategy should not be assumed to be inferior.

Third, government caution about establishing a veterinary school can also be read in more than one way. In a small country delay might have been a wise decision. The inherently political task of negotiating between competing interests and not committing substantial finance without a clear need and a clear mandate from relevant parties characterised debate over veterinary education throughout this period. The formative influence of government, not solely through the Department, segued from the earlier decades into the unique New Zealand club system from late 1930s in the proliferation of farmer-run veterinary clubs, and eventually into the formation of the VSC itself. (87) The VSC structure simultaneously stimulated demand for trained veterinarians yet in several ways suppressed the need for a New Zealand veterinary facility, short-term and long-term goals conflicting somewhat. Government cost ceilings on VSC funding were one part of this. The eventual decision to fund a veterinary school had a number of components: the practical reality of being squeezed out of Australia, recognition of rising and ongoing demand for trained veterinarians, the inability of the VSC to fund enough veterinary training and recruitment, changing educational and farming environments, as well as new factors such as urban veterinary demand and stronger veterinary professional voices.


La Trobe University, Melbourne

(1) Letter, 4 October 1952, Minister of Agriculture to Senate, University of New Zealand, cited in Leonard Wild, Report, Committee on Veterinary Education, July 1954, 1.

(2) Louise H. Curth, 'The Care of the Brute Beast: Animals and the Seventeenth-Century Medical Market-Place', Social History of Medicine 15/3 (2002): 375-392. Or see Abigail Woods' review of Pamela Hunter's Veterinary Medicine: A Guide to Historical Sources (Idershot: Ashgate, 2004), in Medical History 50/1 (2006): 137.

(3) Magali S. Larson, The Rise of Professionalism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977).

(4) Alan D.M.G. Laing, 'The History and Development of the Veterinary Profession in New Zealand', New Zealand Veterinary Journal 2/3 and 4 (1954): 61-67, 141; 'Some Historical Notes on the Veterinary Profession in New Zealand, Part I', New Zealand Veterinary Journal 12/4 and 5 (1964): 67-71, 123; 'The History of Meat Hygiene and Inspection in New Zealand up to the Formation of the Meat Division in 1963', New Zealand Veterinary Journal 18/11 (1970): 241-43; 'An Historical Summary', in Fiftieth Jubilee Handbook. Paper presented at the New Zealand Veterinary Conference, 7-11 February 1974.

(5) Eric Shortridge, Catherine Smith and Earle Gardner, And while you're here ...': A Brief History of the New Zealand Veterinary Profession (Wellington: New Zealand Veterinary Association, 1998).

(6) Edgar Burns, 'Occupational Control in the Development ofthe Veterinary Profession: A Study in the Sociology of Professions' (M.A. thesis, Massey University, Palmerston North, 1979).

(7) Terence J. Johnson, 'Imperialism and the Professions: Notes on the Development of Professional Occupations in Britain's Colonies and the New States', in Professionalisation and Social Change, ed. Paul Halmos (Sociological Review Monograph 20, 1979), 281-309.

(8) Abigail Woods, 'The Construction of an Animal Plague: Foot and Mouth Disease in Nineteenth-Century Britain', Social History of Medicine 17/1 (2004): 23-39.

(9) Leslie P. Pugh, From Farriery to Veterinary Medicine 1785-1975 (Cambridge: Heffer and Sons, 1962).

(10) O. Charnock Bradley, History of the Edinburgh Veterinary College (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1923).

(11) 'Veterinary' was revived from the Latin in the eighteenth century. 'Veterinary surgeon' is equivalent here to 'veterinarian', the more modern usage. It is recognised that in other contexts the study of evolving terminology is important.

(12) Alexander M. Carr-Saunders and Peter A. Wilson, 'Veterinary Surgeons', in The Professions (London, Frank Cass, 1964 (1933), 125-132.

(13) Tony Nightingale, White Collars and Gumboots: A History of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, 1892-1992 (Palmerston North: Dunmore, 1992), 32.

(14) Government veterinarian for several years; published eight reports in Journal of the House of Representatives (1892, H-11).

(15) Burns, 'Occupational Control', 47.

(16) Australian Veterinary Journal, 'Gilruth's Work in New Zealand 1893-1908', in The Gilruth Memorial Issue 13 (1937): 104-107; Cyril S.M. Hopkirk,'Memorial Address: John Anderson Gilruth, D.V.Sc., MRCVS, FRSE (1871-1937)', Proceedings of the New Zealand Society for Animal Production 12 (1952):10-15; Ian C. Ross, John Anderson Gilruth: The Influence of his Life and Work on the Development of the Livestock Industries of the Commonwealth (Brisbane: University of Queensland, 1956). The departmental agenda for veterinary education remained unchanged as one part of a multi-pronged professionalisation project actively pursued: hygiene and inspection, laboratory services, disease eradication, farmer education, and a Veterinary Registration Board restricting practice to qualified veterinarians.

(17) Annual Reports of the New Zealand Department of Agriculture (NZDA) (1899): xi; (1900): xxx; (1901): xx.

(18) H.A. Reid,'Veterinary Services in the Dominions and Colonies', Veterinary Record 56/40 (1944): 362.

(19) See Michael Worboys, Spreading Germs: Disease Theories and Medical Practice in Britain, 1865-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).

(20) A.E. Pierce, 'An Historical Review of Animal Movement, Exotic Disease and Quarantine in New Zealand and Australia', New Zealand Veterinary Journal 23/7 (1975): 125-136.

(21) Australian Veterinary Journal, 'Gilruth's Work in New Zealand'.

(22) Annual Report, NZDA, Wellington, 1899.

(23) Jeffrey L. Berlant, Profession and Monopoly (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975), 215-217.

(24) Annual Report, NZDA, Wellington, 1899.

(25) Annual Report, NZDA, Wellington, 1899.

(26) George E. Thompson, 'Chapter 32: The Proposed Veterinary School', History of the Otago University, 1869-1919 (Dunedin: Wilkie, 1919), 252-255.

(27) Paul Canfield, 'Establishment of the University of Sydney Veterinary School', Australian Veterinary History Society (2002),

(28) Burns, 'Occupational Control', 53.

(29) Thompson,'Proposed Veterinary School, , 253.

(30) J. Fisher, 'Origins and Early Development of the Australian Veterinary Profession: The Nineteenth Century', Australian Veterinary History Society (2002), milestones/index.html

(31) Ira J. Cunningham, Veterinary Manpower and Veterinary Education for New Zealand (Palmerston North: Massey University Occasional Publication 2, 1967), 3-4.

(32) Cunningham, Veterinary Manpower, 4.

(33) Farmers unions at this time were active in developing group services for members such as fire-fighting and veterinary services. Tom W.H. Brooking, Agrarian Businessmen Organise: A Comparative Study of the Origins and Early Phases of Development of the National Farmers' Union of England and Wales and the New Zealand Farmers' Union, ca 1880-1929 (Ph.D. thesis, University of Otago, Dunedin, 1977).

(34) Nightingale, White Collars and Gumboots, 91.

(35) Australian Veterinary Journal, 'Gilruth's Work in New Zealand'.

(36) Burns, 'Occupational Control', 52.

(37) Cunningham, Veterinary Manpower, 2.

(38) Cunningham, Veterinary Manpower, 3.

(39) Dentistry began at Otago in 1907. Cunningham, Veterinary Manpower, 3.

(40) William P. Morrell, The University of Otago, a Centennial History (Dunedin, University of Otago, 1969), 91, 97-99.

(41) 'Obituary HSS Kyle', New Zealand Veterinary Journal 3/1 (1955): 32.

(42) Laing, Historical Summary, 15-17.

(43) Burns, 'Occupational Control', 56.

(44) New Zealand Veterinary Association inc., Rules (Wellington: Hutcheson, Bowman and Johnson, 1923), 3.

(45) The New Zealand Veterinary Surgeons Act, 1926, paragraph 14(2).

(46) William A. Anderson, practised medicine near Queenstown in the 1920s and 1930s: 'There was no veterinary surgeon in the district so that I was often called upon to advise and help with sick or injured domestic animals', Doctor in the Mountains (Wellington: Reed, 1964), 149; also H.G. Pearce, 'each locality had its own cow doctor', in 'Development of the Club Practice in New Zealand and some Thoughts on its Future', Canadian Veterinary Journal 5/6 (1964): 128-134.

(47) Charles Reakes, Annual Report, NZDA, 1930.

(48) Burns, 'Occupational Control', 62-71, summary Table 3.6: 64.

(49) 'Obituary--A Leslie, FRCVS', New Zealand Veterinary Journal 10/6 (1962): 148.

(50) Andrew Linton played a leading role in formulating the Committee's eventual report. He was also the Meat and Dairy Boards' representative on the Dominion Federation of Farmers' Veterinary services.

(51) William C. Barry, government appointee to the VSC from its inception until 1960, held New Zealand's senior veterinary post as Divisional Director of Veterinary Services, NZDA; VSC, Annual Conference, 1957.

(52) A.A. Blakely and I.M. (Jack) Stewart qualified 1937. See Edgar Burns, "Difficult Times ... between Veterinarians and Farmers': Occupational Control in the New Zealand Veterinary Club System, 1930s-1960s', Journal of Historical Sociology 20/4 (2007): 603.

(53) A.A. Blakely, 'A Review of Veterinary Practice in New Zealand', New Zealand Veterinary Journal 16/4 (1968): 43-49.

(54) Personal communication: notes by L.V. Lloyd, long-serving secretary to the Eltham Co-operative Dairy Company and club, supplied by Mr and Mrs H. De long, c1977, Senior Veterinarian and his wife.

(55) Burns, 'Difficult Times', 584.

(56) H.A. Reid, 'Veterinary Services in the Dominions and Colonies', The Veterinary Record 56/4 (1944): 362.

(57) The closed file of the incorporated Federation, National Archives, Wellington; also Annual Reports of the New Zealand Dairy Board, 1940s.

(58) Dominion Federation of Farmers' Veterinary Services, Annual Report, 1945.

(59) 'Veterinary Services and Veterinary Education', New Zealand Science Review (Sept. 1943): 7. Organisations represented: New Zealand Department of Agriculture, Dairy and Meat Boards, New Zealand Veterinary Association, Dominion Federation of Farmers' Veterinary Services, University of New Zealand, Rehabilitation Department.

(60) Burns, 'Difficult Times', 586-587.

(61) William C. Barry, Report, Veterinary Services Committee, 1943-1944 (January 1945).

(62) Barry, Report.

(63) The Veterinary Services Act, 1946. See, for example, 'Veterinary Services Policy: Farmer-controlled Clubs to be Encouraged', New Zealand Journal of Agriculture 75 (1947): 249-251.

(64) Burns, 'Difficult Times', 579-604.

(65) Burns, 'Difficult Times', 589.

(66) Burns, 'Difficult Times', 590.

(67) A cost of over 800,000 [pounds sterling] or 3,700 [pounds sterling] per veterinarian. Excludes funding of VSC scheme for final-year bursars and some Australian students to do their extramural work in New Zealand, and be available as assistants in clubs for busy spring months (1949-early 1960s).

(68) Cunningham, Veterinary Manpower, 7.

(69) Burns, 'Difficult Times', 590.

(70) For early Massey graduate totals, see Burns, 'Occupational Control', Table 4.1, 89.

(71) The 230 count for the final column does not include four missing years' data, but early rows in this column include students whose training had begun prior to 1946.

(72) Students at Brisbane only after 1962.

(73) Burns, 'Occupational Control', 87.

(74) Burns, 'Occupational Control', 90.

(75) The Minister's letter dated 4 October 1952. Shortridge, Smith and Gardner, A Brief History 73.

(76) Leonard 3. Wild, Report 1: Federated Farmers, Massey Agricultural College, Canterbury Agricultural College, Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand, New Zealand Meat Producers Board, Dairy Board and Wool Board, VSC, New Zealand Department of Agriculture, Department of Health.

(77) Wild, Report 6.

(78) Wild, Report 1.

(79) Wild, Report 1-3.

(80) Wild, Report, 4.

(81) Burns, 'Difficult Times', 591.

(82) Pearce, Development of the Club Practice, 128-134.

(83) Cunningham, Veterinary Manpower. 8, 9.

(84) Regional rivalries beset the earlier Otago proposal.

(85) Cunningham, Veterinary Manpower. 10.

(86) Burns, 'Occupational Control', 89.

(87) While various occupations have had personnel supplied by professional schools in one country training students from another, the New Zealand club system is the only veterinary occupational arrangement of this kind.

Author: Edgar Burns has taught at the Eastern Institute of Technology, New Zealand, most recently holding Faculty Research Mentor and sociology Senior Lecturer positions. He is currently a PhD candidate in sociology at La Trobe University researching career transitions. Email:
Table 1: Students trained as Veterinary Service Council bursars,

                       Year of Study

   YE                                       New
31 March                                 Bursaries
           1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th
  1948      ?    17    21    17    16        7
  1949      ?     ?     ?     ?    11       10
  1950      ?     ?     ?     ?     ?       10
  1951      ?    15    10    12    15       14
  1952      ?    12    11    14    78        7
  1953      ?    15     8     9    10       12
  1954      ?    13    11     6     9       14
  1956      ?    24    16    14    16       22
  1957      ?    21    17    14    14       15
  1958      ?    23    14    14    14       23
1959 (2)    ?    23    28    20    14       25
  1960      ?    26    24    24    17       22
  1961      ?    24    19    20    21       22
  1962      ?    29    20    21    19       25
  1963      ?    22    24    20    19     14 (3)
  1964      ?     5     ?     ?     ?        5
  1965      ?     4     ?     ?    20        4
  1966            1     ?     ?    15        1
  1967                             11        0
  1968                             10        0
1969    0

   YE       Studying at     Cumulative   Graduates
31 March   University (1)   Bursaries    into clubs

  1948           76             ?            12
  1949           38             ?            10
  1950           60             ?            12
  1951           52             ?            13
  1952           45             47           9
  1953           42             59           ?
  1954           39             73           ?
  1956           70            109           ?
  1957           66            124           16
  1958           65            148           13
1959 (2)         85            171           14
  1960           79            193           15
  1961           84            213           16
  1962           89            238           23
  1963           85            252           18
  1964           73             ?            16
  1965           48             ?            14
  1966           28             ?            18
  1967           ?                           ?
  1968           ?                           10
  1969           ?                           1

(1) Includes 'Rehabilitation' (war servicemen) until early 1950s.
Sydney student numbers were: 1949(26), 1950(24), 1951(7). Others
at Brisbane.

(2) In late 1950s, several students repeated one or more years with
suspended bursaries. This creates discrepancies in the table figures.

(3) Students only at Brisbane from 1963.

Source: VSC, Annual Reports and Statements of Account, 1948-1969.
Data not provided in these documents are indicated by '?'.
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Author:Burns, Edgar
Publication:History of Education Review
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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