The Palmerston North Hospital has proudly marked 125 years of providing healthcare to the community.

The hospital was opened on November 27, 1893, and the anniversary was marked on November 27, 2018, with a celebration, tree planting and plaque unveiling.

Special guests, including current and former staff and board members, the Honourable Dr David Clark Minister of Health, and Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith, attended the event.

The Minister, Mayor and guests were welcomed on site to the Garden of Tranquility with a pōwhiri officiated by members of the Pae Ora Māori Health Directorate and kaumatua from Manawhenua Hauora. This was followed by the planting of a kōwhai tree to mark the milestone.

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Dr Clark said 125 years was an impressive milestone for the hospital.

"These are really wonderful occasions. An opportunity to celebrate the history but also the contributions of those staff today who are serving our community so well.

"The hospital has achieved numerous milestones to be proud of since it opened in 1893. Just some of those key achievements include starting district nursing in 1914, obtaining its first X-ray equipment in 1931, opening a chapel in 1957 and starting the country's first Coronary Care Unit in 1966."

MidCentral DHB chairwoman Dot McKinnon spoke of the hospital's humble beginnings. When it opened in 1893, the hospital had no electricity, only two doctors and three nurses, just four wards, and beds for 25 patients.

"It was a community affair – a hospital established by the people of the district for the district's people. Its history is steeped with generous and committed individuals and organisations who have worked extraordinarily hard to make sure a first-class hospital service is delivered every day of every year.

"Over the past 125 years the hospital and its services have changed out of sight, and the pace continues to gain more and more momentum. The hospital now has over 300 beds and 2500 staff.

"I salute those who have gone before in making this hospital great, and pay tribute to all who work in it today.

"Palmerston North Hospital is considerably bigger than it ever was, and we want to now embark on the next stage of upgrade to ensure it remains capable of meeting the community's needs."

Dr Clark said MidCentral DHB was innovative, progressive and inclusive and had led the way in clinical, operational and social fields, both nationally and internationally,
for New Zealand in so many ways.

"So I want to I acknowledge the dedication and hard work that's led to that - the generations of doctors, nurses, midwives, allied health workers and other health workers who have contributed over the last 125 years to those firsts and to the everyday care, quality care and services that are provided in our community."

MidCentral DHB CEO Kathryn Cook gave special thanks to Downer and Hawkins Construction for their kind donations towards the event, and acknowledged Brian Wilton and Dr Peter Hurly for providing their restored ambulances for the hospital celebrations.