Plunket Society

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Plunket Society
Formation May 14, 1907; 107 years ago (1907-05-14)

The Royal New Zealand Plunket Society is an incorporated society[1] in New Zealand which provides a range of health services to healthy babies and young children. The Plunket Society mission is "to ensure that New Zealand children are among the healthiest in the world".

The society is most commonly referred to in the community as "Plunket".


MP Hilda Ross (left) and Mrs Gilmer, president of the Plunket Society, at the opening of the 1950 Karitane Fair, Wellington

The meeting which led to the foundation of the society was held on 14 May 1907, in Dunedin, by Dr Truby King. King was a medical superintendent and lecturer in mental diseases. He believed that by providing support services to parents, the society could ensure children were fed on a nutritious diet, and therefore reduce child mortality rates. He also believed that this would improve adult health as the children got older.

Originally called the Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children, Plunket got its name from an early patron of the Society, Victoria Alexandrina Plunket mother of eight and wife of then Governor of New Zealand, William Plunket, 5th Baron Plunket.[2][3]

Within a year, the society had first opened The Karitane Home For Babies in Dunedin, and then opened centres in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.

The society laboured for many years under the perception that it was set up cater only for European women and their babies, this impression was reinforced by the fact that the Department of Health operated a Native Health Nurse Service specifically for Maori in rural areas.[4]

In 1912, King made a lecture tour on the Plunket Society. In these tours he was highly successful in attracting support for the society, partly because he exaggerated the effect on infant mortality rates.[5] As a result of his tour, 60 new centres opened around New Zealand, each employing a nurse. The centres were badged as Plunket Rooms, however they are now referred to as Plunket Clinics.

In 2005 Keith Paroa Curry became the first male Plunket nurse.


  1. ^ Charities Commission website
  2. ^
  3. ^ Jim Sullivan I was a Plunket baby 2007 Random House New Zealand
  4. ^ Jim Sullivan I was a Plunket baby 2007 Random House New Zealand
  5. ^ Jim Sullivan I was a Plunket baby 2007 Random House New Zealand

External links[edit]