Auckland Lunatic Asylum

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Auckland Lunatic Asylum
Established 1863
Construction Began 1865
Opened 1869
Closed 1992
Current Status Closed/Preserved
Building Style Single Building
Architect(s) James Wrigley
Location Point Chevalier, Auckland, New Zealand
Architecture Style Neoclassical
Alternate Names
  • Whau Lunatic Asylum
  • Avondale Lunatic Asylum
  • Avondale Hospital
  • Auckland Mental Health Hospital
  • Oakley Hospital
  • Carrington Psychiatric Hospital
  • Carrington/Oakley Hospital
  • Auckland Technical Institute

Financial backing to build the hospital came from the provincial government. In September 1863, architectural plans by a Mr. Barrett from England were submitted to the Auckland architect James Wrigley who adapted them. Henry White was the builder. John Thomas of Oakley Creek was awarded a brick contract for the building materials, but being unable to complete the contract, it fell on Dr. Pollen to supply the rest of the bricks. Some of the bricks were produced on-site while others were produced at Dr Pollen's Avondale brickyard. After the building was gutted by an 1877 fire, Philip Herapath supervised the reconstruction. From 1869 to 1879, Dr. Thomas Aickin served as medical superintendent. In 1891, Dr. T. R. King, Medical Superintendent, resigned because of ill-health, and was succeeded by Dr. Gray Hassell, who had been an administrator at the Wellington Hospital and Wellington Asylum.

In December, 1900, there were 494 patients—306 males and 188 females. The staff included 31 males and 21 females. The average net cost per patient was, in 1898, £19 13s, and, in 1899, £20 8s. The average number of patients sent out cured in 1898 was 51%, and in 1899, 38%; average deaths, 1898, 7.5; in 1899, 8.8. The officials of the institution at the time were Dr. Robert Martin Beattie, medical superintendent; Dr. William Webster, assistant medical officer; Edward Newport, head attendant; Sophia Campbell, matron; and J. D. Muir, farm manager. Religious service was held on Sunday by ministers of the denominations of which patients are members.

The asylum underwent several name changes. It was known as Auckland Mental Health Hospital in 1959. In the 1960s, the work week averaged 60 hours and staff had only one day off each week. Avondale Mental Asylum became Oakley Hospital, a male forensic unit. The institute's centenary was celebrated in Oakley Hospital in 1966. The Auckland Psychiatric Hospital was officially renamed Oakley Hospital in 1962. After merging with Carrington Hospital, the hospital had 600 beds. In 1964, Dr. G.M. Tothill retired as medical superintendent and Dr P.P.E. Savage was appointed to take his place.

In 1971, the building was considered to be one of the best Victorial buildings in Auckland. The Auckland Hospital Board took control of the hospital the following year. Controversial plans were considered for the hospital's M3 Ward to be turned into a medical security prison in 1986. In 1992, Carrington Hospital was closed by the Auckland Area Health Board and was purchased by a tertiary education provider, Carrington Polytec, who refurbished the building, opening the Unitec Institute of Technology School of Architecture and Design in 1994. The original building is now used by Unitec's Faculty of Architecture and Design.[1]

Images of the Auckland Lunatic Asylum[edit]


  1. Wikipedia - Whau Lunatic Asylum Accessed: December 21, 2013