Kingseat Hospital

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Kingseat Hospital
Construction Began 1929
Opened 1932
Closed 1999
Current Status Closed
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Karaka, Auckland, NZ
Alternate Names


The construction of Kingseat Hospital began in 1929 when twenty patients from a nearby mental institution came to the site along with twelve wheelbarrows and ten shovels. Kingseat Hospital was named after a hospital in Aberdeenshire, Scotland following Dr. Gray (the Director-General of the Mental Health Division of the Health Department at the time) returning from an overseas trip, who felt it appropriate to have a sister hospital with the same name in New Zealand. Flower gardens, shrubs and trees were grown in the grounds of Kingseat Hospital, using surplus plants from the Ellerslie Racecourse and Norfolk Island pine seeds from Sir George Grey’s garden on Kawau Island.

Kingseat Hospital was in operation from 1932. In 1939, the Public Works Department and Fletcher Construction Company, Ltd. agreed on the construction of a two-storey nurses home at Kingseat Hospital, with the government to provide the steel for the building.

The hospital grew throughout the mid-late 1930s and 1940s to such an extent that by the beginning of 1947, there were over eight hundred patients. In 1968, certain nurses at Kingseat Hospital went on strike, which forced the administration to invite unemployed people and volunteers to assist within the hospital grounds with domestic chores.

In 1973, a Therapeutic pool was opened by the then-Mayoress of Auckland, Barbara Goodman, four years before the main swimming pool was added to the hospital in 1977. The site celebrated its 50th Anniversary Jubilee in 1982.

During the 1970s and 1980s, there were many places attached to psychiatric hospitals in New Zealand where alcoholics were treated for their drinking addictions and Villas 4 and 11 at Kingseat Hospital served this purpose. In 1996, South Auckland Health sold Kingseat Hospital after government decisions to replace ongoing hospitalisation of mentally ill patients with community care and rehabilitation units. This led to the eventual closure of Kingseat Hospital in July 1999, when the final patients were re-located off the complex to a mental health unit in Otara.

After the closure of Kingseat Hospital in 1999, the grounds were initially considered as a potential site for a new prison, able to accommodate for six hundred inmates. In 2000, legal action was taken against the Tainui tribe for financial issues involving the former hospital. By 2004, more than two-hundred people had come forward to file complaints against the national government for claims of mistreatment and abuse of patients at New Zealand's psychiatric institutions (including Kingseat Hospital) during the 1960s and 1970s.

In 2013, a property developer revealed a plan to transform the site of the hospital into a countryside living estate with four hundred and fifty homes. The plan sparked debate over which buildings and their park-like surroundings should stay as a reminder of its past, with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust requesting better protection of heritage values of buildings and plants. But some residents insisted that the complex represented a sad past and shouldn’t be highlighted as heritage.