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A Doctor in the Whau

A Doctor in the Whau

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Published by Lisa Truttman
Story of Dr. Thomas Aickin (1814-1897)
Story of Dr. Thomas Aickin (1814-1897)

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Published by: Lisa Truttman on Oct 30, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/01/2012

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 A Doctor in the Whau
 Dr. Thomas Aickin (1814-1897)
by Lisa J. TruttmanAvondale-Waterview Historical SocietyJanuary 2007
 
2
 
Above: 
Portraits of Dr. Thomas Aickin and his wife Agnes (née Casement). Bykind permission of the Aickin Family, as with Aickin coat of arms on last page.
Cover photograph: 
The Auckland Provincial Lunatic Asylum
,
popularly knownas “The Whau”, as Dr. Aickin would have known it prior to the fire ofSeptember 1877 and the subsequent extensions. Photo reference 7-A10156,by kind permission of Special Collections, Auckland City Libraries (N.Z.)
 
3One evening in December 1866, in a small country township then known asthe Whau, the parishioners of the Presbyterian Church there held a “teameeting and social gathering”. The small church building’s interior wasliberally decorated with flowers, branches of fern tree and nikau, and many ofthe residents attended, including one man who spoke to the audience aboutthe meaning of their district’s name, and that “he saw a respectable and well-educated audience such as he had little expected ever to see there, when hefirst settled at the Whau,” many years before. After some anecdotes about“the imitative powers of Chinamen and monkeys”, he read the following poemhe’d composed especially for the occasion:
“And now my friends, before we all part,Let me speak a few words as they come from my heart.We are truly delighted to meet you all here,And we hope you’ve enjoyed your temperate cheer.From its fumes in the morning may you suffer no pain,Nor of head-ache or heart-ache, have cause to complain,To each of the fair ones, who furnished her tray Our tribute of thanks, most sincerely we pay,And with praises extol their benevolent souls,Who so freely replenished our baskets and bowls.Then three cheers for them all, let us heartily give; Midst blessings, and happiness, long may they live,And all honor to women, for to them it is given.To wreath this dull earth with the roses of heaven; To cheer us still onward through life’s dreary way,And shed warmth and light as the bright God of Day.Our meeting this evening contrived by their skill,Was, as you all know, carried out with a will,Though what they may prove we presume not to tell.But of this I feel certain, that no ill can accrue,From a meeting like this, to them and to you,For friendship and kindness, and truth and good will,To neighbour and visitor never caused ill.That such are the feelings of every one here,I have much cause to hope, and no cause to fear.Then adieu for the present, I hope I’ve said right,May we never regret our meeting this night 
.”
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The speaker and author was Dr. Thomas Aickin, local landowner, farmer, andfirst local doctor to the settlers of the sparsely populated rural heartland of theWhau and West Auckland. Within three years, his association with Auckland’sLunatic Asylum at Point Chevalier would begin, and within another decadeafter that he would leave the Whau behind him forever, amid acrimony andcontroversy.Dr. Aickin’s name tends to appear almost as a footnote to the history of thedistrict. We know he tended to the ills of Avondale’s early settlers from the
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NZ Herald 
, 21 December 1866, p. 4

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