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Pandemic kick arse attitude: Dr Margaret Cruickshank 1873 - 1918

  • 1 minute

@University of Otago

Statue of Dr Marget Cruickshank @Stuff
Statue of Dr Margaret Cruickshank @Stuff

Highlights

  • Margaret Cruickshank, the second woman to graduate in medicine in New Zealand and the first New Zealand woman to register and practise as a general practitioner
  • Tirelessly worked during 1918 Influenza pandemic to lose her life to the virus
  • In 2007 the Ministry of Health named a pandemic preparedness exercise ‘Exercise Cruickshank’ in recognition of her work during the 1918 influenza pandemic

Margaret Cruickshank was the first woman to be registered as a doctor in New Zealand. From 1897 to 1918 she served the small South Canterbury community of Waimate.

Margaret Barnet Cruickshank and her twin Christina went to school on alternate days. The girls had to mind five younger children after the death of their mother. The girls recounted how they shared notes in the evenings so as not to miss any lessons.

Both girls were joint dux of Otago Girl’s High School. Christina acquired double Masters in arts and science and became the principal of Wanganui Girls’ College. Margaret, in 1897 completed a medical degree becoming the second woman to do so. She graduated a year after her friend Emily Siedeberg.

Dr Marget Cruickshank @NZ Herald
Dr Marget Cruickshank @NZ Herald
Dr Marget Cruickshank @University of Otago
Dr Marget Cruickshank @University of Otago

She went to Waimate, after a year in Britain where she devoted her life to the people of the town.

Her willingness to milk the cow and wash the dinners of sick patients made her immensely popular in the small South Canterbury community.

In 1923 the people of Waimate unveiled a 3-m-high memorial statue to her in Seddon Square, inscribed ‘The Beloved Physician/Faithful unto Death’.

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