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Sunnyside Hospital

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Title: Sunnyside Hospital  
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Subject: Janet Frame, Richard Pearse, List of hospitals in New Zealand, Peter Mahon (lawyer), Benjamin Mountfort, Mabel Howard
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Sunnyside Hospital

Sunnyside Hospital
country house rather than place of incarceration.
Location Christchurch, Canterbury Region, New Zealand

43°33′03″S 172°35′34″E / 43.5509°S 172.5929°E / -43.5509; 172.5929Coordinates: 43°33′03″S 172°35′34″E / 43.5509°S 172.5929°E / -43.5509; 172.5929

Care system
Emergency department No
Founded 1863
Closed 1999

Sunnyside Hospital (1863-1999) was the first mental asylum to be built in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was initially known as Sunnyside Lunatic Asylum, and its first patients were 17 people who had previously been kept in the Lyttelton gaol.[1] In 2007, Hilmorton Hospital is just one of the mental health services that are based on the old Sunnyside Hospital grounds.


Sunnyside was primarily designed by the New Zealand Victorian Gothic architect, Benjamin Mountfort, with an administration building designed by John Campbell.


Edward William Seagar was the first superintendent of Sunnyside Hospital.

In 1995, four years before the hospital's closure, nurses walked off the job because of dangerous working conditions.

Famous patients

  • Janet Frame Writer. Frame described some of her experiences in Sunnyside Hospital in her autobiography An Angel at my Table, and her novel Faces in the Water.
[Mrs R. said it would] be a good idea for me to admit myself as a voluntary boarder to Sunnyside Mental Hospital where there was a new electric treatment, which, in her opinion, would help me. . . . I woke toothless and was admitted to Sunnyside Hospital and I was given the new electric treatment, and suddenly my life was thrown out of focus. I could not remember. I was terrified.[3]
  • Mabel Howard ( - 23 June 1972) Union worker, politician, and New Zealand's first woman cabinet minister.[4]
  • Richard Pearse (June 1951 - July 1953) Inventor and aviator. Pearce flight tested aircraft in New Zealand from 1902, and is reputed to have successfully flown on about the 31st March 1903.[5]



  • Blake-Palmer, Geoffrey. 1966. 'Hospitals, Mental', In, A. H. McLintock, ed., An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. (Accessed 19 August 2007)[5]
  • Christchurch City Libraries, Heritage, (accessed 19 Aug 2007)
  • Frame, Janet. 1991. An Autobiography. To the Island. An Angel At My Table. The Envoy from Mirror City. New York: George Braziller.
  • Frame, Janet. 1961. Reprinted in 1980. Faces in the Water. London: The Women's Press.

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