A nation's health is a nation's wealth : perceptions of health, 1890-1914 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in History at Massey University

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Massey University
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This thesis is an examination of the way health issues were perceived in New Zealand from 1890 to 1914. It investigates how these views changed and the manner in which they were reflected in health policies and programmes. Perceptions of health are examined within their social, political and cultural context. It is argued that in the period from 1890 to 1914 health issues were increasingly prominent on the public agenda. The nineteenth century was characterised by a distinct lack of interest in health, primarily because New Zealand was believed to be an inherently healthy country. From the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries this view was challenged by the growing importance of medical science, the increasing influence of the medical profession and a number of public health scares. With the biomedical revolution of the 1880s there was more scope for human intervention in health matters and a different understanding of health. More frequent debates about health increasingly characterised the health status of the population as a national asset. New Zealand's strength as a nation was thought to be connected with its health. This shift in perceptions was related to increasing government intervention to control and protect its population's health. The Liberal Government responded to this need by incorporating health into their programme of government intervention through a centralised bureaucracy. By looking at a number of health policies in their sociopolitical context this thesis provides a holistic view of the history of health in New Zealand. From this framework of analysis a number of broader themes are discussed: the changing role of medicine, the role of the government in providing for health, New Zealand's relationship with Britain, and the construction of a national identity.
New Zealand, Public health, History, Public opinion, Maori (New Zealand People) -- Health and hygiene, Medical policy, Health, Māori Master's Thesis