Landmark history to be launched
A landmark history of St John is to be launched on 22 October on the site where the organisation was founded in New
Zealand in 1885.
First to Care: 125 Years of the Order of St John in New Zealand, 1885–2010 brings to life the history of one of our most
ubiquitous and vital charitable organizations.
The book launch, at St Mary's church hall in Merivale, Christchurch, kicks off the 125th anniversary year celebrations
of the organisation in New Zealand.
Author Graeme Hunt unearths new information about the founding of the former St John Ambulance Association in 1885, the
creation of its complementary arm, the former St John Ambulance Brigade, in 1892, and the development of what is now one
of the country’s leading healthcare organisations.
The heavily illustrated book provides a vivid account of public-spiritedness, enterprise and innovation by people
involved in St John over the past 125 years, peppered with occasional disputes and setbacks along the way.
St John chief executive Jaimes Wood said First to Care was not only a frank account of the first 125 years of St John in
New Zealand but also a social history of the role of an iconic organisation in national life.
“From Graeme Hunt’s history we see how St John developed into a dynamic organisation capable of serving the needs or a
varied and demanding community.
“The challenges St John faced in 1885 –– developing a strong organisation drawing on the collective skills of volunteers
and paid staff, working with governments and healthcare providers and winning the hearts and minds of the public –– are
those we face today.
“Graeme has identified the ability of St John to meet the challenges and adapt to a changing world. The book is an
important part of explaining where we came from, where we are and where we are going.”
Graeme Hunt said St John had gone through many changes since 1885 but remained true to its twin international mottos,
Pro fide (for the faith) and Pro utilitate hominum (for the service of humanity).
“St John invented and popularised ‘first aid’ as we know it. It provided medical assistance from the sidelines of our
sports fields from as early as 1891 and it played a leading role in disaster relief from its formative days. From humble
beginnings it established a nationwide ambulance service that today is the envy of the St John fraternity worldwide.
“In 1885 St John’s success depended heavily on the service of volunteers –– ordinary New Zealanders who gave up their
spare time to serve their fellow citizens. Today volunteers remain crucial to the success of the wide range of services
St John offers.”