In the early days government provided little in the way of health services. People in need of care relied on independent doctors, and family and community support. The first public hospital opened in Napier in 1860, and this served the entire region until a second was opened in Waipukurau in 1879. Other hospitals followed, including Wairoa (1888), Dannevirke (1906) and Hastings on ANZAC day 25th April 1928 the Hawk’e Bay Fallen soldiers Hospital was opened by the Minister of Health & Hasting mayor Sir George Ebbett. It was a low lying single storeyed building set back from Omahu road.
1931 Napier hospital buried in landslide after earthquake. Temporary hospital set up.
A new Napier Hospital on the hill was opened in 1969
In the 1990s the government wanted to rationalise health services, and some hospitals, such as Napier and Dannevirke, closed.
1995 the big debate on one hospital for Hastings and Napier was in full swing.
In 1995, following a hotly contested debate between Hastings and Napier, it was
decided that the regional hospital should be in Hastings.
Napier people were assured, by both political and health authorities from the highest
level down, that after its establishment:
they would have two-thirds of the services they had previously enjoyed
these would include accident services, day surgery and maternity. It would be pointless for Napier to be in competition with Hastings. The
Napier Public Health Action Group [NPHAG] does not, repeat NOT, seek duplication
of a regional hospital in Napier. It DOES seek fulfilment of the assurances given
when our hospital was closed – a public community hospital offering real treatment of cases not requiring high tech equipment.
In the 2000s the region was covered by the Hawke’s Bay and MidCentral district health boards. The main hospital was located in Hastings. District and community health centres were in Wairoa, Napier, Waipukurau and Dannevirke. Māori organisations such as Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga in Hastings provided health and other social services to Māori in the region.