Termination of Westland Hospital
5 October, 2018
The end of Westland Hospital. Continuation of yesterday’s post about Reefton Hospital…
On this day, Hokitika closes down as a town for half a day to protest the effective closure of their own hospital. As discussed in my previous post, technically the ‘hospital’ would limp along as an old folks home/’geriatric ward’ until 1989 but then, as now, we can all see through that bureaucratic smoke screen.
We are not who we used to be, the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. This hospital dated from December 1877 and very different people created it and sustained it from the West Coasters who cut the hospital loose.
Back in the day the dominant cultures were Honour and Dignity Cultures of self-made people with fierce independence. They did things for themselves and their in-group. They would fund raise, they would saw logs, cut rocks, haul iron, hammer framing, and lend their horses and spare men to the great project. They would form committees and subcommittees and, as Crawford Somerset and Gordon McLauchlan noted, meetings, meetings, meetings…!
Libertarians are often asked, “Who will build the roads? Who will build the schools? Who will build the hospitals, without government?” The answer, of course, is that people have always build these things for themselves first and they were taken over after the fact by the state.
By 1977, 100 years on, Westland’s Dignity and Honour Culture had reached its tipping point. What was once a general and orthopaedic surgery, a training school, maternity ward,…a whole shebang..was on borrowed time. Men like Dr. Allen Bryant and Dr. Lindsay Black extended the life of Westland Hospital by planting their feet, and their expertise, firmly on the site and working long and hard, but now they were gone. Nobody stood up to replace these doctors.
[video: West Coast Historical Museum Photographic Archive; c.1990s]
By 1985 Westland Hospital had all but eroded away. The heirs to the do-it-yourself cultures were the people of our modern New Zealand: The Victimhood Culture. It must never have occurred to this generation to sustain or to create institutions. Instead, they complain and protest and picket and sit-in and rally in order to effect change. Their ‘means of production’ is to be annoying and complain to their implicit superiors to make things right. The secret meaning of ‘Day of Shame’ is that it’s really the victims of learned helplessness who have shamed themselves. The Old Timers are turning in their graves. Any of the old breed who have not simply died out have certainly left the West Coast and its dregs behind to crumble away into the Tasman Sea.
note: Last news I’ve seen is that locals Mr & Mrs Duncan Hamilton (Norwest Estate Limited) now own the old hospital site, have cleaned it up, and are developing it into housing subdivision and a retirement village. Alas, not a private hospital which was too much to hope for.