University of Otagoheader image header image



Related Links
Biography: Lucy and Edward Mee
Biography: Edmund Slattery
Biography: Charlotte Grimmett

Poverty: Helping Those in Need

There were only limited sources of public relief for those without means in the 1890s. The most common in southern Dunedin was 'outdoor relief', which offered the needy food, clothing and money to help them stay in their own homes. This was administered by the Otago Benevolent Institution in Caversham and funded partly by local subscriptions and partly by Government funds. For the elderly poor and those unable to live on their own, there was 'indoor relief' -residence in the Benevolent Institution itself. Neglected or criminal children, and those youngsters whose parents could not care for them adequately, were sent to the Caversham Industrial School at Lookout Point or to the church-run orphanages. Single mothers found a home with the Salvation Army at Rockyside.

Benevolent InstitutionThe Benevolent Institution had been a Caversham landmark since the 1860s. As the major source of public welfare it symbolised the poverty to which so many residents of southern Dunedin remained vulnerable. Looming over 'the Flat', the 'Benny' cast a shadow over the prosperity enjoyed by able-bodied working men and their families. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

'The Shiner'New Zealand's elderly population increased sevenfold from 1881 to 1901. In Otago there were 3.7 elderly men to every elderly woman - the ageing male gold-seekers of the 1860s. Caversham acquired a large group of these elderly men from across Otago, including a number of Chinese. Many had never married. They came to the Benevolent Institution once they could no longer care for themselves. One of their more infamous cresidents was Edmund Slattery - also known as 'The Shiner'. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

Caversham Industrial SchoolThe Caversham Industrial School was for children who could not be cared for at home. Some were illegitimate children, others the children of widowed fathers who had nobody to take a mother's place. Some mothers were too ill or poor to care for their children, some others were considered too 'drunken and immoral'. In addition to attending school, the children carried the majority of work within the home. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

Salvation Army HomeThis 1903 photograph shows the Salvation Army Maternity home in Caversham. It provided support for of South Dunedin's unmarried mothers. (Hocken Library - Uare Taoka O Hakena, University of Otago)


[Next: The'Welfare State' Arrives]

Site last updated 25/07/03
Best viewed in Internet Explorer