Meeting – August 2 2018

Meetings of the Society
Auckland Medical History Society

The next meeting of the Auckland Medical History Society will be held in the Ernest and Marion Davis Library at Auckland City Hospital on

Thursday 2 August 2018

The evening will be as follows:

  • 6.00pm: Refreshments will be served in the Ernest and Marion Davis Library
  • 6.30pm: Buffet Dinner will be served in the dining room
  • 7.30pm: Guest presentations*


  1. The ‘forgotten’ 1916 polio epidemic in New Zealand                  Presented by Dr Heather Battles
  2. A brief history of deaf education in New Zealand: 1880-1980     Presented by Lucy Groenhart
  3. Cholera and John Shaw                                                                   Presented by Susie Middleton


  • Members: $32
  • Non-members and guests: $40
  • Students with ID: $18
  • Glass of wine: $5
  • Bottle of wine: $20
  • Table water and juice are complimentary.

Please pay for your dinner and wine vouchers in advance, then collect the vouchers with your name badge on the night of the dinner.


  • Send the names of attendees to with confirmation that you have made payment to the Auckland Medical History Society account: 02 0160 0237509 00 via the internet, or cheque (made out to the Auckland Medical History Society) and sent toE Holst, AMHS Treasurer, PO Box 482, Orewa 0946  for dinner +/- wine vouchers.
  • If no e-mail access call Diane on 0274 305 326 with the names of attendees, method of payment and your phone number.
  • Final booking time: Please provide your booking details by midday on Mon 30 July.  Cancellations with refund or credit of any payment made will be accepted by phone or email as above until noon on Weds 1 August.  Please pay in advance of the evening so that we can pay our caterers before the event.

*Payment is not required if you are attending the presentations only.

Presenter, Heather Battles

Dr. Heather Battles was born in Victoria, BC, Canada. She completed her BA in Anthropology and History at the University of Victoria in 2005, before moving to Ontario for graduate studies. She completed her Masters in the Anthropology of Health and her PhD in Biological Anthropology, both at McMaster University. Her doctoral dissertation used historical records to examine polio mortality in southern Ontario in the early 20th century. She took up her current position at the University of Auckland in 2014, beginning her ongoing research into polio mortality in New Zealand. 


The ‘forgotten’ 1916 polio epidemic in New Zealand

This presentation examines New Zealand’s 1916 polio epidemic, which resulted in over 1,000 notified cases and 125 deaths among Pākehā alone, in addition to an unknown number cases and deaths among Māori. Despite the proportionately heavy toll of this epidemic, it has been largely forgotten’, subsumed by the upheaval and impact of the Great War as well as the subsequent mass mortality of the 1918 Flu. Scholarship on the once-forgotten 1918 Flu pandemic has illuminated not only many factors which contributed to this ‘forgetting’ but also how intimately linked that disease was to the War – both biologically and socially. Are similar links to be found in the case of polio in 1916? I present the results of quantitative and qualitative research of the non-Māori death registrations and contemporary newspapers. I find little evidence of a direct biological link between wartime conditions and the spread and severity of the disease. Much clearer are the ways in which the epidemic socially articulated with and became closely tied to the War – with both negative and positive repercussions for the treatment of polio patients.

Presenter, Lucy Groenhart

Lucy is a third-year medical student with interests in general practice and public health. Her previous career was as a university lecturer, specialising in housing policy, public policy and urban economics.

Lucy’s talk will explore the establishment of deaf education in New Zealand and how it has evolved over 100 years. Technology, global events, and epidemics have all influenced deaf education, and these will be discussed.

Presenter, Susie Middleton

Susie is a third-year medical student and says: ‘Before medicine I studied politics and economics. The story of John Snow and cholera is one of my favourite from medicine’s history, as it involves exciting detective work and demonstrates the value of looking at the bigger picture. It also has a brilliantly simple solution.’

(The student speakers are from the MBChB311 Medical Humanities course in the History of Health, Medicine and Society)