The Royal New Zealand Plunket Society
is an incorporated society
in New Zealand
which provides a range of health services to healthy babies and young children. The Plunket Society mission is "to ensure that New Zealand children are among the healthiest in the world".
The society is most commonly referred to in the community as "Plunket".
The meeting which led to the foundation of the society was held on May 14 1907
by Dr Frederick Truby King
. King was a medical superintendent and lecturer in mental diseases
. He believed that by providing support services to parents, the society could ensure children were fed on a nutritious
diet, and therefore reduce child mortality
rates. He also believed that this would improve adult health as the children got older.
Within a year, the society had first opened The Karitane Home For Babies in Dunedin, and then opened centres in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.
The society was initially established to cater only for European women and their babies. However this was changed from political opposition and protest from various groups such as the Maori Women's Initiative.
Originally called the "Royal New Zealand Society for the Health of Women and Children", Plunket got its name from an early patron of the Society, Victoria Plunket, mother of eight and wife of then Governor, William Plunket.
In 1912, King made a lecture tour on the Plunket Society. In these tours he was highly successful in attracting support for the society, partly because he exaggerated the effect on infant mortality rates. As a result of his tour, 60 new centres opened around New Zealand, each employing a nurse. The centres were (and are) badged as Plunket Rooms