Ward Sisters / Charge Nurses


Sister Frances Price was placed in charge of the new children's hospital.

Frances Price 1912 - 1915

During her tenure, Sister Price was relieved for short periods (due to illness) by

Grace Ward (September 1912), Gertrude Grace Meddins  (October 1912)  

and by Ethel Jane Lloyd (Nov 1912 - Feb 1913) 

Ethel Lloyd (when a Sister on the ship SS Maheno)

In March1915 the Hospital Board agreed that there be two Sisters appointed, one for each ward.

Dominion 19 March 1915

Dorothy Madge Alexander was appointed Sister Children's Medical Ward                                                                                        and Agnes Blake was appointed to the Children's Surgical Ward

However, during WW1, there was a general shortage of ward sisters at the hospital as many had gone to serve at the Front.  For six months of this period, Grace Neill filled in as Sister-in-Charge of the Children's Hospital, despite being now 69 years of age.  However it is noteworthy that much earlier in her career (1876 - 1879), Grace had been Lady Superintendent of the Children's Hospital at Pendlebury, near Manchester.

 Grace Neill Jun - Dec 1915

Available records do not always specify to which of the two wards Sisters were appointed

 Annie Evans (Dec 1915 - Mar 1917),  Maggie Preston (1917 - Jul 1918) and Myrtle Davies (1918).

Blanche Huddlestone was Sister 1919 - 1920

Blanche Huddlestone 1919 - 1920

Isobel Murray was appointed in August 1924 but resigned in July 1925.


Blanche Clarke was appointed Ward Sister to succeed Isobel Murray.

Blanche Clarke 1925 - 1926

 Later that year she was required to relieve as Home Sister and the Children's Hospital came under the charge of Isobel Murray.  Sister Clarke returned to Children's Hospital duties and remained there into 1926.

Children's Medical Ward 19

Matilda Ratliff was Ward Sister 1926 - 1928

(there is a big gap in the records for the period 1928 - 1947)

                                                  Mary Coleman was appointed in 1945, remaining there until 1952.                                                                                                                         She then became Children's Wards Supervisor until her retirement in 1962.



Dorothy Steel Smith 1953 - 1958Helen Jean Whelan 1959 - 1971

Shirley Edna Balchin 1962

(relieving Helen Whelan who was on a PG course)

Rosemary Perkins 1971 - 1972Frances Vagg 1972 - 1975Hilary Harper 1976 - 1980

Judy McLean 1980 - 2007



Children's Surgical Ward 18

Mary Chapman-Taylor was Sister Ward 18 1925 - 1928

(there is a big gap in the records for the period 1928 - 1947)

Alison Gray Cathie was appointed Sister of the Children's Surgical Ward in 1947, remining there until 1952.

1947 - 1952

 She was replaced by Shirley May Dalbeth 1952 - 1958, followed by Jocelyn Ann Mackay (1958 - 1961), and in turn by

 Rosemary Simpson (1961 - 1962) 

Josephine Mary Talbot was Sister Children's Surgical Ward  for part of 1962.  Josephine Talbot at the time of her graduation in 1961


Arda Yska 1963 - 1977Sally Estall 1977 - 1979Julie Rodgers 1979 - 1982



Catherine Gibson followed for a brief time (1982 - 1983) until wards 17 and 18 merged.
 (The Wellington Hospital Board had taken the decision that with the opening of ward 3 at Kenepuru Hospital in 1982, one of the three wards at Wellington Hospital should close)

Catherine Gibson


The last appointee to Ward 18 during this era was Barbara Diggins (1983 - 1991.

Barbara Diggins



Victoria Ward 28

The children's wards 18 and 19 were overcrowded and in the mid 1960s, children with long-stay problems were moved to Ward 28, the upper floor of the Victoria Hospital..  Initially this ward was in the charge of a staff nurse.

Barbara Diggins was appointed as staff nurse in 1968 but by the following year had been promoted to Sister in Charge of ward 28.


Ward 20 / Ward 17

However ward 28 closed in 1970 as alterations had been made to the upper floor of the Children's Hospital, allowing the establishment of ward 20.  This was later renamed ward 17.

Barbara Diggins moved with the long-stay paediatric patients into ward 17 and remained in charge until 1982.  She took overseas leave in 1981 and for those two months, ward 17 was under the charge of Julia Payne

The photo below was taken in ward 17 in 1970 by W Nell, and is courtesy of Archives NZ.  Barbara Diggins is seen in the background.


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Last updated 29 April 2021.