In 1919 the people of Hastings began raising funds to build a much-needed cottage and maternity hospital as a district war memorial. The foundation stone, laid in 1927, was inscribed:
Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers’ / Memorial Hospital / erected 1927 / by the people of the district / in everlasting remembrance / of our honoured dead/ 1914-1918.
The Minister of Health, Mr A.J. Young, formally opened the hospital on Anzac Day 1928 (see photo). The single-storeyed building was approached via a memorial entrance gate. There was a memorial lobby in the central administration block, where a bronze plaque listing the names of 300 fallen soldiers from the area was installed.
After the 1931 earthquake, the hospital became a general hospital. Some time after the earthquake an additional plaque was installed in the memorial hall:
In memory of / the nurses who were killed / or injured after the earthquake / 3rd February, 1931 / and as a tribute to the subsequent / noble work of those who survived.
The hospital was significantly expanded over the years. A new multi-storey administration block was opened in 1961. A memorial chapel was then formed from the original war memorial entrance hall. This was dedicated by Rev. N.A. Lesser, Bishop of Waiapu, on 2 August 1964. The art works included a striking stained glass window behind the altar by Geoff Fuller of Havelock North. In 1988 the chapel was rededicated after extensive refurbishment (it may have been at this time that the wording above its entrance was changed from ‘Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital’ to ‘Soldiers’ Memorial Chapel’).
Over the years the hospital had come to be referred to as the Hawke’s Bay Memorial Hospital or even simply as the Hawkes’ Bay Hospital. On 11 June 2015, its original name, the Hawkes’ Bay Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, was officially restored, when Governor-General Sir Jerry Matapere unveiled a new sign to this effect. The same day, the chapel was rededicated yet again.
Sources: ‘Maternity Hospitals’, Kai Tiaki, 3/7/1928, p. 142; M.B. Boyd, City of the Plains: A History of Hastings, Wellington, 1984, pp. 210-11, 220-2, 224-7; Geoff Conly, A Case History: The Hawke’s Bay Hospital Board, 1876-1989, Napier, 1992, pp. 97-111, 211-13; ‘Hospital renamed in tribute’, Hawkes Bay Today, 25/3/2015; ‘Sir Jerry rededicates H-B hospital’, Hawkes Bay Today, 12/6/2015; Michael Fowler, Hastings, Havelock North and Napier: A Collage of History, Havelock North, 2015, pp. 63-5.
The Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in 2010 - now the memorial chapel.