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An Exciting Find

Mar 19, 2019 | Museum Articles

The old water tank of the Mercury Bay Dairy factory (the building that is now the Mercury Bay Museum) is home to a substantial collection of historical maps, records, books containing financial transactions and novels – many more than a century old.

Mercury Bay Museum staff and volunteers were excited to recently discover the old Mercury Bay Hospital Register of Admissions among the collection of maps and documents. It was an exciting discovery. The hospital used to be situated on Buffalo Beach Road in Whitianga. The museum is not sure who provided the register to them, but assume it must have been donated when the hospital closed down several decades ago.

Because the register has not yet been catalogued by the museum, no one had any idea that it was in the old water tank until it was stumbled upon.

Now over 100 years old, the first entry in the register was recorded on 18 February 1908 and the last on 22 March 1965.


The register contains a detailed and carefully written record of the name, gender and age of the hospital patients, where they were from, their occupation, the reason for their admission, the date and length of their stay, any outstanding fees owed to the hospital and whether or not they passed away while in the hospital’s care.


Female patients were usually required to state whether they were married and the number of children they had, as well as their husband’s occupation. In many cases female patients stated their own occupation as “housewife” or “household duties.”      

Due to privacy reasons, entries must be at least 100 years old before they can be made public.

While the pages of the register are in very good condition, the outside cover is worn, so the museum is planning to photograph and transcribe the entries onto their computer system to match with their death index.

The museum staff and volunteers were also excited to see how accurately the museum’s death index matches the same records for patients that had passed away while in the hospital’s care.

Museum volunteer, Kim Allan, who has a passion for genealogy and is also a member of the local genealogy society, will now work with museum manager, Rebecca Cox, to index the register.

This means that individuals wanting to conduct research into the history of deceased family members will be able to view the information contained in the register at the museum.

The first 10 years of entries in the register (from 1908 to 1918) will be made available for public viewing.


This article first appeared in The Mercury Bay Informer 

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