History of the Surgery at 24 High St, Hawera

NZHPT Registered Category II, Register Number 853

Legal Description Lots 9A & 10A DP 1626


The surgery on the corner of Collins and High Streets was built in 1904 by A B Burrell with very strict instructions for an American, Dr G Herbert Brown.

After Dr Brown's death (c 1907), Dr James Breadalbane MacDiarmid (from Scotland) took over, leaving temporarily at the outbreak of war in 1914 to join the NZMC serving on the hospital ship Marama and after his war service obtained his FRCS in London before returning to Hawera. He was the temporary hospital medical superintendent during the Nov 1918 Influenza Epidemic and was for a while the only available local doctor, with one doctor away on active service, one dying, and the remaining too sick with the flu.

Even Dr W F Buist from Kaponga was admitted to Hawera Hospital. The eventual death toll in the district for "Black November" was 103 Europeans and 120 Maori.

Dr MacDiarmid left exhausted (died in Tauranga in 1942) and the practice was taken over by Dr William Frederick Buist in 1919. Dr Buist was born in Argentina to Scottish parents and had previously practised in Eltham and Kaponga. He lived in the house and continued in practice until about 1951, two years before his death in 1953.

His son, Alastair Gordon Buist was raised in the building and practised from it from 1946 to 1985, being joined by the husband and wife team of Drs D R (Bob) Armstrong and Phil Stockdill 1951-79 followed by a short subsequent period of association with Dr Louis Trichard who moved out to separate premises. In December 1980 Dr Keith Thomas Blayney from Auckland joined as an associate and has continued to the present day.

In 1983 Dr Buist sold his part of the practice to Dr Erwin Eloff who in 1986 also moved to a new site. Dr Buist died in 1999 at Brixton.

After Alastair built his own home behind the surgery about 1970, the surgery building was modified with a self-contained flat at the back and approximately ¼ became a dental surgery from which Bernard R Whittington has since practised. He was joined by Adam Fraser in 1998 and the dental rooms were extended into a area previously used for storage. An upstairs darkroom remains but a sundeck and a basement have been sealed off.

Extensive and costly upgrading of the medical rooms were undertaken by Dr Blayney in 1995 re-enlarging the waiting room and modernising the interior while retaining as much of the original style as possible. The 51 Collins Street entrance was closed with both medical and dental patients using the "High Street Dental and Medical Chambers" entrance at 24 High Street.

In 2001 the outside veranda was filled in and columns were repaired, then in 2017 the flat was upraded for the owners with a reduction in the size of the corridor sized toilet, which was modernised, and a different emergency exit created. The roof was repaired so that in 2018 the hall was finally able to be refurbished.


K T Blayney Aug 2001, Sep 2018



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