If there is one place that is inextricably linked to nearly every baby born in New Zealand, it is Karitane. In this small seaside settlement some 40 km north of Dunedin a pioneering pediatrician and psychiatrist named Sir Truby King, who worked at the nearby Seacliff Asylum, founded of the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society in 1907. This organisation established numerous neonatal institutes known throughout the country as Karitane Hospitals. Starting in Dunedin, Plunket (as the society is affectionately known) has been a positive and supporting network for generations of New Zealand parents. The ubiquitous “Plunket Book” that was (and still is) issued to new mothers provides a record of the early development of their newborn children. Various metrics are recorded and charted in these books to provide new mothers with an assurance that their babies are within the “normal” range of growth and development.
On a hill slightly to the south of the village of Karitane, above the Huirapa Marae (meeting place) at Puketeraki, stands the old wooden Huiterangiora Church and graveyard, with a view back over the beach and the small peninsula now known as the Huriwa Historic Reserve.