First royal honour for New Zealand woman

19 April 1884

Annie Crisp
Annie Crisp (back row, second from left) at Auckland Hospital, (Archives New Zealand, YCAS 14094 2b)

The Royal Red Cross was awarded to Miss Annie Alice Crisp, Lady Superintendent of Auckland Hospital, in a ceremony at Government House, Auckland, attended by six or seven hundred ‘ladies and gentlemen’.

Established the previous year by Queen Victoria to recognise ‘special devotion and competency … in their nursing duties with our Army in the field, or in our naval and military hospitals’, the decoration was conferred exclusively on women until 1976. Crisp had served with distinction in the Zulu and Anglo-Egyptian Wars, and had been awarded the Egyptian medal and the Khedive’s Star.

In making the presentation on behalf of the Queen, Governor William Jervois declared that the people of not only Auckland but the whole country were ‘to be congratulated that they have amongst them one like Miss Crisp as superintendent of nurses of one of their hospitals’. His words were met with loud cheers.

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