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Muddy Doctors and Mustard Poultices: Medical knowledge and practices in colonial New Zealand

This thesis examines health care in colonial New Zealand and sets about identifying and recognising the care which was given by women in their homes and communities. Based around four dominant etiological theories of the nineteenth century it explores the introduction, application and adaptation of medical knowledge in New Zealand. An overview of public health care in New Zealand from the late 1700s through to the 1930s is included. This covers the introduction of disease to the colony, the role of missionaries as healers, the contribution made by private medical practitioners as well as the professionlisation of medicine in New Zealand and the development of public health practices. This research is placed in the broader context of European colonisation and uncovers settler’s ideas, beliefs and perceptions surrounding health and disease. The use of medical rhetoric to control the population and promote progressive ideals is discussed. The importance and prevalence of domestic health practice becomes clear when we examine colonial diaries and correspondence and take into account the haphazard nature of the public health systems and the popularity of home medical books. The division of labour generated through gender stereotyping meant that women in particular worked tirelessly as health care providers with little remuneration or recognition. Domestic health care has been overlooked in our country’s official medical history. This thesis seeks to address that omission.
Type of thesis
Bishop, J. L. (2010). Muddy Doctors and Mustard Poultices: Medical knowledge and practices in colonial New Zealand (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4978
University of Waikato
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