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WildBoyz

New Zealand Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital, Karaka - June 2017

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History

Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital is located in Karaka, a small rural area south of the city of Auckland. The construction of the hospital, which derives its name from a hospital in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, began in 1929, when twenty patients from a nearby mental health institution were sent to the site equipped with ten shovels and twelve wheelbarrows. Following a visit to the United Kingdom, Dr. Gray (the Director-General of the Mental Health Division of the Health Department at the time) felt that it was a good idea to open a sister hospital in New Zealand.  

Kingseat Hospital opened in 1932. Thereafter, the facility continued to grow and several new buildings were constructed on the site, including a two-storey nurse’s home. By the beginning of 1947, there were over eight hundred patients at the hospital. However, in 1968 a number of nurses at the facility went on strike due to ill treatment and high stress levels. This forced the hospital administration to invite unemployed people and volunteers to assist within the hospital grounds with general domestic tasks. Eventually, the dispute with the nurses was partially resolved and, in the end, normal service resumed. Nevertheless, it should be noted that more nurses are said to have died at Kingseat than patients, due to the high stress levels caused by working in such an emotionally, and physically, draining environment. As one member of staff reported after the closure of Kingseat:

 

… I worked here as a teenager, it was a horrible hospital with dinosaur thinking and a lot of what they say is true. How they treated the elderly and mentally handicapped people back then was horrible… It was horrible living in the nurses ‘home’, it was horrible working in the huge main kitchen and it was worse working in the separate units. The eating hall looked like a disaster swept through after each feeding… There was never enough hands to help the extremely handicapped eat, no medications to avoid being scratched or attacked… I cried with relief to learn this hospital has closed. The gardens were kept beautiful, with its tennis courts and pool, but what was behind closed door sucks… I cried looking at the elderly demented people being held here, their only crime was not being of sound mind and having no living relations…

 

Despite its underlying problems, further development occurred in 1973, when a therapeutic pool was constructed. It was opened by the then-Mayorness of Auckland, Mrs. Barbara Goodman. Four years later a larger, main swimming pool was installed at the hospital. 

As the hospital continued to grow, various externals sites formed a connection with the facility, such as various alcoholics groups that sent patients to be treated for their drinking addictions. The hospital also started to accept voluntary patients between the 1980s and 1990s. However, in 1996 South Auckland Health sold Kingseat Hospital, following the government’s decision to replace ongoing hospitalisation of mentally ill patients with community care and rehabilitation units. Similar to the UK, New Zealand went through a period of deinstitutionalisation which involved housing mentally ill patients within the everyday community, and this resulted in most of the country’s asylums and institutions being closed down. Subsequently, Kingseat Hospital closed in 1999, after the final patients were relocated to a mental health unit in Otara. The last sixteen patients were not sent into the community because they were not suitable for rehabilitation. The final patients were moved to an old Spinal Unit complex that was surrounded on all sides by electrified fences. It is reported that local residents of Otara were concerned for the safety of their families if a patient did manage to escape from the secure unit. In contrast, South Auckland Health argued that such fears were unwarranted and unjustified, and that the secure unit’s location would allow the patients to be closer to their own families, whereas Kingseat had been much more isolated. 

After Kingseat Hospital closed, it was considered as a potential site for a new prison. It is estimated that it would have been able to hold up to six hundred inmates. However, it was decided not to redevelop the facility due to the buildings on the site being potentially earthquake-prone. Since 2000, then, a large proportion of the hospital has simply been left to decay. The rest of the site is lived in by members of the Tainui tribe and other New Zealanders. 

Since 2004 over two hundred people have come forward to file complaints against the national government for mistreatment and abuse during the 1960s and 70s. Many of those people are former patients and nurses. The site has also gained a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in New Zealand. According to the television programme, Ghost Hunt, the most common apparition seen at the hospital is the ‘Grey Nurse’ – a former member of staff who is reported to have committed suicide. However, despite the spooky problem, a development company has proposed plans to transform the site into a countryside living estate with four hundred and fifty homes. The plans would ensure that the original buildings and grounds would be preserved. 

Our Version of Events

We’ll keep this brief, since the explore itself was pretty uneventful (it was still very interesting, but more of a chilled walk-around). To begin with, we met up in Auckland with another explorer who runs the Derelict NZ Facebook page, and from there decided to head out of the city to visit an old psychiatric hospital. Apparently, the architecture was very different to other stuff you tend to find in New Zealand, so it seemed well worth a visit. In other words, it meant we were going to find some bricks!

We rocked up sometime in the afternoon and parked the cars in an old parking bay that was presumably part of the hospital. As we got out, we were surprised at how lively the old site was. There were people walking outdoors, children playing on the grass and other people doing menial tasks outside their houses. However, as noted above, parts of the site are lived on, so in hindsight this shouldn’t have been odd at all. 

Doing our best to blend in, we crossed a large, well-kept, grass field. We were heading for the abandoned looking buildings where there were fewer people. At the first dirty looking derp, we had to wait patiently for several minutes for a very unusual guy to continue on his way. He appeared to be walking his cat, and was talking on his phone to no one… It would appear, then, that not all the patients have left the facility. After a few odd glances at each other, though, the guy eventually wandered off into some nearby bushes, and that was the last we saw of him. 

Accessing the buildings wasn’t particularly difficult, and it’s possible to get inside at least several of them. Most are largely stripped, as the photos show, but some do have a few unique features, such as the cells we found inside a former ward. Unfortunately, the old high secure section of the site has been torched, so there’s not much to look at inside there. The hardcore fence outside it is still in situ though, so that was something interesting to see. The final thing we found that’s worth mentioning is the old therapeutic pool. It was much different to any other we’ve seen before. After the pool we headed back to the cars as there wasn’t much else to see. It was time to crack on and find something else to explore. 

Explored with Nillskill, Nadia and Derelict NZ. 
 

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Bad condition, but still a few nice views. I especially like the swimming pool / water basin with the palm tree in front of the window.

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That's a real array of buildings there. Nice though and pretty photogenic to say the least. I enjoyed reading the history and plans for the future on this place :thumb 

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    • By WildBoyz
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      The Wallaceville Animal Research Centre, located in Wellington, New Zealand, was a Government-owned veterinary and animal research centre. Following the establishment of the New Zealand Department of Agriculture in 1892, a new facility was commissioned to undertake research on livestock, which could then be applied to help farming communities across the country. The laboratory was eventually constructed in 1905. Before this time, research had simply been carried out in temporary makeshift laboratories in Wellington. 

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      Our Version of Events

      And so, we come to our final explore in New Zealand, before we made the incredibly long journey back to England. We were in Wellington, ready to catch our flight but decided there was still time for one last dirty derp. In the end, there’s always time for a quickie. 

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      All in all, then, the explore was really good. There was plenty of stuff left over, and we had to sneak around a bit to avoid being seen by anyone wandering around outside which is always fun. The entire building still had a 1905 feeling to it too, since everything looked dated compared to a modern-day laboratory such as GSK. We spent roughly forty-five minutes inside, and then called it a day because we’d managed to take snaps of every room. Getting back out, however, was a mighty task since it suddenly became extremely busy outside with cars and people passing by. Somehow, though, and we’re really not quite sure how, we still managed to avoid getting caught by anyone as we retraced the steps we’d initially taken to get inside. 

      Farewells and Some Acknowledgements

      On and off since 2014, we’ve been travelling back and forth between the UK and New Zealand. This explore stands as the last explore we’re likely to do in New Zealand for a good while because the coffers are now almost entirely depleted. At this point in time then, we would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone we’ve met, explored and gotten caught by the police with, particularly Urbex Central New Zealand. In particular, we would like to thank our friend, Nillskill, for sharing locations and taking the time to travel around most of the country with us. In total, we managed to explore over one-hundred and eleven sites together. You will be missed, but we look forward to your proposed visit to the UK at some point in the near future. We would also like to mention a few more names of those we’ve met along the way: Bane, Gunner, Zort, Nadita, Harley, René, The Mexican Bandit and Dylan. It was a real pleasure to have met you all, and we’re happy that we managed to spend some time exploring together, even if one of you does insist on being called Zort in everyday life. Stay safe, ladies and gents. Cheerio. 

      WildBoyz.

      Explored with Nillskill.
       
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    • By WildBoyz
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      Lower Hutt Central Fire Station is a Category I Historic Place located in a large suburban area of Wellington, New Zealand. It was constructed in 1955 using concrete, and its design, which is indicative of a post-war utopian vision, was heavily influenced by the American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. It was Wright’s belief that structures should be in harmony with humanity and the wider environment. Once completed, the building was thought to have been one of the most contemporary fire stations in the southern hemisphere. Certain features helped to reinforce this image, such as the temporary accommodation inside the station that was said to create a sense of community and camaraderie, the control room that allowed fire engines to be started and stopped remotely, the main doors which could be opened automatically and new technology that could be used to record phone calls. The post-war modernist style of architecture, with its aesthetic smooth surfaces and curves, became very popular throughout Wellington in the 1950s because it represented progress and modernity for a newly emerging city. 

      Following a review of the New Zealand Fire Service in the mid-2000s, and some restructuring due to population dispersal of the city’s growing number of residents, it was decided that three stations in Wellington City would be shut down – those in Lower Hutt, Petone and Point Howard. Lower Hutt Central Station was subsequently closed in 2007. All of its crews and engines were split between three new strategically placed stations at Alicetown, Avalon and Seaview. Since its closure, Lower Hutt Fire Station has remained unoccupied and neglected and this has resulted in it being heavily vandalised. 

      Our Version of Events

      There’s not a great deal to say about this one.Urbex Central happened to mention they knew the whereabouts of an abandoned fire station, so, in their company, we decided to go take a look. We were immediately sold on the idea after they brought up it still had poles. That’s about the only thing it had going for it mind you. Since being abandoned in 2007, the station has been well and truly stripped of anything of value so it’s largely just a shell these days. However, as noted above, the poles do still exist, and they were easy to find across the site because they sit behind ‘Pole Drop’ doors on the upstairs floors. So, if you happen to be passing by, make sure you pop in and have a quick session on the poles. 

      Explored with Nillskill. 
       
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