Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

Caring for our people 1880–1950

Pamela Wood

Winner of the Archives & Records Association of NZ 2023 Ian Wards Prize  

The book

Wood NZ Nurses websiteAuthor Pamela Wood's New Zealand Nurses draws on a wealth of nurses' personal stories to identify the values, traditions, community and folklore of the nursing culture from 1880 – when hospital reforms began to formally introduce 'modern nursing' into New Zealand – to 1950, three years after New Zealand severed its final tie as part of the British Empire.

In the late nineteenth century, British nurses who had been trained in the system established by Florence Nightingale began to spread across the world. This was the British nursing diaspora and New Zealand was its southernmost landfall. New Zealand Nurses explores the growth of a distinctly Kiwi nursing style and how nurses in this part of the globe responded to, and ultimately came to challenge, imperial influences.

New Zealand Nurses is rich in detail and understated humour as it examines the nursing cultures that emerged in a range of different settings and circumstances: from hospitals to homes, rural backblocks to Māori settlements, and from war and disaster zones to nursing through a pandemic.

'A pleasure to read – an insightful analysis of a key occupation with lively stories that will have great appeal to nurses and all those interested in women's history.' – Barbara Brookes, Professor Emerita, MNZM

'An important and fascinating account of New Zealand nurses and nursing through the late 19th to the mid-20th century. Wood has deftly woven historical events and multiple sources to reveal a unique Aotearoa nursing identity. The nurses' narratives shine through.' – Lorraine Ritchie RN, PhD.

The author

Pamela Wood is a retired academic, registered nurse and independent historian. She taught in undergraduate and postgraduate nursing programmes and postgraduate health programmes for 30 years and is the author of Dirt: Filth and decay in a New World Arcadia.

Publication details

Paperback, 240 x 170mm, 376pp
ISBN 9781990048326, $45

Reviews and Interviews

Interview: Ruth Todd interviews Pamela Wood for Bookenz, Plains FM Listen

Interview: Kathryn Ryan interviews Pamela Wood for Nine to Noon, RNZ Listen

Interview: Dionne Christian interviews Pamela Wood for Kete Books Read

Feature: Bruce Monro features New Zealand Nurses in the Otago Daily Time's Weekend Mix Read

Feature: Kevin Norquay writes about New Zealand Nurses for Stuff NZ Read

Review: Jim Sullivan reviews New Zealand Nurses by Pamela Wood for the Otago Daily Times Read

Review:“Pamela Wood's account of the New Zealand nursing service's first 70 years poses an interesting question of cultural convergence and divergence … Apart from the official reports and formal histories, Wood uses the written material left by nurses themselves to inject a distinctive voice into the book … she creates a multidimensional account of a nursing service that reflected our society and character.”  – Chris Moore reviews New Zealand Nurses for the NZ Listener June 25 2022 Issue

Review: Paul Little reviews New Zealand Nurses for North & South Magazine July Issue

Review: "This book provides a significant contribution to the growing historiography on New Zealand women's labour and occupational history. The examination of nursing history adds to the picture of changing horizons for women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The positioning of New Zealand nursing culture within a transnational process of nursing professionalization, combined with the analysis of the concepts and ideas about medicine and bodies, gender and race, mean that this is also a valuable resource for imperial and empire studies. Beyond its value as an academic text, it is an important testimony of women's work and an enjoyable, broadly appealing, read." – Sarah Christie reviews NZ Nurses for the New Zealand Journal of History

Video: ARANZ Award Video announcing Pamela Wood as the winner of the 2023 Ian Wards Prize Watch

Buy now

Back to top