The history of Middlemore Hospital - celebrating the firsts

There is a reason why the corridors of Middlemore Hospital corridors are quite wide – they once needed to accommodate the army jeeps carrying wounded soldiers through.

Built in 1943, the then Otahuhu Military hospital was intended to care for sick and injured servicemen returning from the war in the Pacific. With the end of the war, the hospital was purchased by the Auckland Hospital board for public health care, and Middlemore Hospital was born.

Named for William Middlemore Thomson, the brother of the original owner of the farm G.L Thomson where the hospital was built, who came over from Scotland to farm the land once his brother passed away. The district would also later be named after William.  

The firsts

The first patient of the newly opened hospital was Private Charles Battensby who was received by Middlemore’s first Medical Superintendent, Dr John Colvin.

John Colvin attended Otago Medical School and further trained in London as a surgeon.  He was fifty when he returned to Middlemore, bringing with him a wealth of experience. The Colvin Unit at Middlemore bears his name as a tribute.

The first matron of the hospital was Miss Olive Mercy Hollan. Known to be strict but passionate about nursing, she worked her diligently for a decade until 1957.

Olive had meet her husband John Wilson in Sydney, where he was the quartermaster on the ‘Awatea’, and the couple had both travelled to New Zealand, initially to Akaroa. 

After John Wilsons cancer diagnosis, the couple and their son moved to Auckland. John died in 1936 at a time in history when being a widow and single mother made returning to the workforce hard, but Olivia preserved and succeeded.  

The first house manager was Mr Clarrie Newman. Serving in the military including during both world wards, Clairre worked for the Auckland Hospital Board. He also established the Canteen Association which provided funds to the hospital and staff amenities.

Less than a minute to read Communications Team

Last modified: