Most people don’t know that the Hastings hospital is actually a war memorial or that one woman’s last wish helped turn it into the hospital it is today.
It was in 2015 that the name Hawkes’ Bay Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital was restored in full after nearly 100 years.
And most people don’t know that a great deal of how the hospital is now was because of a 1931 earthquake victim whose body disappeared after she was last seen in her room by the balcony of Napier’s beautiful Masonic Lodge.
It is suspected that there are victims of the 1931 earthquake not properly memorialised and we know there are some whose bodies were not found.
One is Henrietta Lavinia Kelly, who had been living in what was called room J on the first floor of the lodge for nearly a year. Her room had a window and a door opening onto the balcony.
She had been seen the day of the earthquake but after, with the lodge in ruins and fire rampaging through the middle of Napier, she was never found.
But Henrietta’s name should be remembered for what she did after she died.
Fundraising for the hospital had started in 1919 and in 1927 the foundation stone was laid. It is inscribed “Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers’ / Memorial Hospital / erected 1927 / by the people of the district / in everlasting remembrance / of our honoured dead/ 1914-1918.”
The hospital was opened on Anzac Day 1928.
After the 1931 earthquake it became a general hospital.
Henrietta was born in around 1871 in Porangahau. Little is known about her early life. But in the 1928 electoral rolls she was living in Knight St, Hastings with Elizabeth Bishop, whose maiden name was Kelly.
Elizabeth had been the wife of well known stock agent Thomas Bishop. They had seven sons - only one of whom - Herbert - survived. There are no records of daughters.
It was Herbert who tried to find Henrietta in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Thomas died in 1888 and left Elizabeth with a small fortune. His will left everything to Elizabeth and after her his children “including daughters.”
It’s unclear how Henrietta is related. She might be a daughter whose birth is unregistered.
Regardless she had quite the estate and when she died she left her entire estate - £35,000 - bequeathed to the Hastings Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital, in Hastings.
It amounted to over $1 million then.
Her estates were tied up but instructed to be applied to the hospital. “For any such purpose as rebuilding, building additions to the present block, in maintaining the hospital, "or in any other manner for the benefit of the hospital."
Because of her the hospital was expanded. And the expanded hospital - taking it from 20 beds to 50 - was opened in 1935 as a general hospital with a maternity and Karitane section attached.
Henrietta is buried in the Havelock North Cemetery.
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