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Lunacy Legislation in New Zealand

  • W. Lauder Lindsay (a1)

Some months ago, in an article on “Colonial Lunacy Boards,” [in the number of the “Edinburgh Medical Journal” for March, 1872,] I had occasion to announce that the New Zealand Government had put upon paper certain “Resolutions”1 regarding Lunacy-Reform in the Colony, including a proposal forthwith to appoint at least one Commissioner in Lunacy, who should act as adviser to Government in all Lunacy matters, as well as supervise all the Lunatic Asylums of the Colony. I expressed a fear that the intentions apparently embodied in the said resolutions were “too good news to be true,” and that they would prove but formal suggestions—to be laid upon the table of the House of Assembly, there to remain [shelved] for an indefinite period, just as similar proposals for Lunacy Reform have been treated in the sister colony of New South Wales. Unfortunately for the insane, and for the Lunatic Hospitals, of New Zealand, my surmises have proved to be only too correct —my fears only too well founded. By the August mail (1872) I received two letters from tne Honourable Dr. Buchanan, of Dunedin, Member of the Legislative Council, and mover of the Parliamentary Resolutions above referred to.2 That the proposals which these resolutions contained, have not yet been adopted, is certainly no fault of his; for of his hearty interest and honest intention in the matter there can be no question. In his letters he gives the following most unsatisfactory account of the present state of affairs in New Zealand in regard to Lunacy Progress or Reform—a state of affairs which I quite agree with him in considering discreditable and disgraceful to its reputation as a British Colony!

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1 They are prefixed to a “Report of the Joint Committee upon Lunatic Asylums,” said Committee consisting of 15 members of both Houses of Assembly; printed by order of the Legislative Council in October, 1871; for a copy whereof I am indebted to the courtesy of the Honble. Dr. Buchanan, chairman of the Committee.

2 I received, also, by the same mail—owing to the kind attention of my friend, John Hislop, Esq., Inspector of Schools for the Province of Otago—a copy of the “Parliamentary Debates” of 1871 (No. 5, dated September 18th), containing the discussion of September 7th, on the “Colonial Lunatic Asylum.” And subsequently “Reports on Lunatic Asylums in New Zealand, presented to both Houses of the General Assembly, by command of His Excellency,” in 1871, have come to hand.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
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Lunacy Legislation in New Zealand

  • W. Lauder Lindsay (a1)
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