Urged for More Than Fifty Years: Veterinary Education in New Zealand, C1900-1964
Burns, Edgar, History of Education Review
After the 1907 collapse of the new Otago University Veterinary School, a gap of over half a century elapsed before the Massey University Veterinary Faculty was opened in 1964. This interval means linear professionalisation accounts from pre-modern animal care by farriers and cow leeches to modern cadres of scientific veterinarians (2) are challenged by contingent and particular features in the New Zealand setting. The educational sequence is inevitably linked with other aspects of society, economy and workforce around the veterinary 'professional project'. (3) Limited research into veterinary development and education in New Zealand includes accounts by veterinarians--Laing's monographs, (4) Shortridge, Smith and Gardner's history of the veterinary profession, (5) and Burns' historical sociology thesis. (6)
Thus while activity to establish a New Zealand veterinary school around 1900 drew on colonial and modernising discourses and examples of veterinary educational projects overseas, these were contextual to the historical events in this country. (7) Most of the thirty European veterinary schools set up in the late-eighteenth-early nineteenth centuries, were in response to European cattle epidemics. (8) The London Veterinary College (1791) (9) and the Edinburgh Veterinary School (1823) (10) shaped British and American colonial veterinary developments, and Glasgow's Veterinary School was opened in 1860. A British 1844 Royal Charter declared veterinary science a profession, and members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) were to be distinguished by the title of veterinary surgeon. (11) Entry was controlled by the 'uni-portal' student examination, the only way to become a member (MRCVS) until 1948, when gaining a university degree became sufficient for registration. The British 1881 Veterinary Surgeons Act banned unqualified practitioners using any title, addition or description claiming special medical and surgical qualifications for treating animals. It listed qualified veterinarians on a Statutory Register, though many persons not formally qualified continued in practice. (12)
From this wider context of veterinary change, New Zealand veterinary education is reviewed here in several steps. First, initiatives of the government's new Department of Agriculture and how these played out in the unsuccessful attempt to establish a New Zealand veterinary school around 1900 are described. Second, the educational significance of the 1926 Veterinary Surgeons Act is outlined. Third, growing rural demand for veterinarians in the 1930-40s, and subsidised training of veterinarians overseas for the new farmer veterinary clubs. is documented. Fourth, the supply of veterinarians trained outside New Zealand by the Veterinary Services Council 1946-64 is examined--this VSC work occurring amid ongoing argument about the need for national New Zealand veterinary training, ultimately leading to Massey's veterinary faculty.
New Zealand Department of Agriculture and the push for veterinary education
The New Zealand Department of Agriculture was formed in 1892 by combining the agricultural section of the Land Department and the Stock Department. (13) Before then only one veterinarian, John McClean, MRCVS, had been employed by the government to prepare a series of reports on the incidence of stock diseases in districts throughout the country. (14) Two young British veterinarians were recruited to the new Department, John Gilruth and Charles Reakes, both MRCVS. Their administrative energy especially that of Gilruth, and up-to-date education and expertise rapidly expanded veterinary and health advice, technical assistance, and educative functions for the Department. (15) Gilruth headed the Veterinary Division formed within the Department in 1895 during an anthrax outbreak, and after spending 1896 studying at the Pasteur Institute, Paris, he became Chief Veterinarian. Such was his influence in pursuing veterinary projects that the period to his departure in 1908 has been termed the 'Gilruth Era'. …