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What will be the future of Queen Mary Hospital and its grounds at Hanmer Springs?

Roger Keey - 5/12/03

The Canterbury District Health Board is proposing to sell Queen Mary Hospital and its grounds at Hanmer Springs, North Canterbury. The Board claims that it is surplus to requirements. Queen Mary Hospital was built as a convalescent hospital for returned servicemen at the end of World War I on land that was once part of a reserve around the thermal springs. This Hospital essentially replaced an earlier sanatorium which was built in 1897 but later lost to fire. The Hospital has had a long history of providing rehabilitation services, including inpatient services for drug and alcohol addiction. A century after the first sanatorium was built, the public health authorities decided to withdraw from directly providing services on the site. More limited services were provided privately under contract to the Ministry of Health, but this provider has recently gone into liquidation, bringing to an end all treatment at Queen Mary Hospital.

In 1981, the former North Canterbury Hospital Board obtained the effective freehold to the site because it was then operating hospital services there, but there is some doubt whether this land-transfer process was entirely legal. Whether this be so or not, the Interim Board for the proposed Queen Mary Trust believes that the site, once in public ownership as a reserve, should be returned to public ownership now that it is not required for a hospital, with the same free access that occurred before. The Trust Board considers the sale to be wrong in principle. The disposal of the site could lead to undesirable commercial development, with loss of heritage buildings and outstanding trees.

Holding on to the land

Join a walk on Sundays at noon

The Trustees of the Interim Queen Mary Trust have initiated a walk around the Queen Mary Hospital Grounds every Sunday at 12 Noon, until further notice. The walk will start at the Soldier's Block entrance, which is the oldest part of the hospital. The walk is to draw attention to the fact that the land the hospital is built on is in fact Reserve land around the Thermal Pools. It was used for this purpose for many years before the hospital was built in 1916. In fact reserve status remained until a NZ Gazette notice was placed in 1981 purporting to transfer the land to the North Canterbury Hospital Board in fee simple. The Interim Trust Board of The Queen Mary Reserve Trust maintains this transfer was not legally done, because the Minister of Lands was not consulted and did not approve the loss of the reserve to the public of New Zealand. The Trust Board is anxious that the Canterbury Hospital Board is considering selling the land to private interests, and thereby alienating the public from its rightful access to a park around the Thermal Pools. Furthermore it is part of the Hanmer Springs Development Plan that an open area free of access remain around the Pools.

Join the Sunday walks and show support for this land remaining in public ownership.

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