The Society for the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children was founded at a meeting in the Dunedin Town Hall. It came to be known as the Plunket Society after its first patron, Lady Victoria Plunket, the wife of the governor.
The impetus for a society that would ‘help the mothers and save the babies’ came from Dr Frederic Truby King. In March 1907, while on the staff of the Mental Hospital at Seacliff, north of Dunedin, he contributed an article on child welfare to the Otago Daily Times. He believed that scientifically formulated doctrines on nutrition and infant care were the key to the future health of the nation. More immediately, they would help reduce the death rate among babies and children, which seemed to be escalating. . .
It worked and is still working, although I don’t think all new parents today get the same level of support through home visits that we got when our children were babies.
I will forever be grateful to the Plunket nurse who continued what she called her “love” visits long after the official quota had been used up to keep a kindly and professional eye on our profoundly disabled son – and the rest of the family.