Dr George Rees (1810 - 1858)

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Death: Died
Managed by: Melanie Jane (Mel) Rees
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Dr George Rees

Source: Book: The Wanganui Story by MJG Smart and AP Bates - Hutt City Library 993.54SMA

Page 200-201

The next medical practitioner of whom we have a record was Doctor George C. Rees. The arrival at Wanganui of Dr George Rees was rather unusual for he reached here as a passenger on board the 230 ton barque"Clydeside" which arried in Wanganui at he end of Nov 1841, and ran aground on a sandbar off Puitiki. Passengers were landed in small boats and completed the journey to Wanganui on foot. The "Clydeside" was later refloated and continued in service for many years after. Dr Rees commenced the practice of his profession in a small cottage on the corner of Wicksteed Plance and Campbell Place, but shortly afterwards shifted to a more central position on the southern corner of Taupo Quay and Trafalgar Place. He built his home with the materials of the day, mud or clay walls, with a thatched roof, and a large outside chimney.

He was appointed Colonial and Native Surgeon in 1844 and was also actively associated with Rev. Richard Taylor in the establishment and running of a small hospital at Putiki to care for the health of the Maori people. Dr Rees later shifted to more central premises in what was once the old Courthouse in Victoria Avenue next to the English Church where Selwyn Buildings are sited today. Here, he announced in the newspaper of the day, he was certain to be found at all hours. He only lived in Wanganui for seventeen years but gave faithful service to the people of the town and surrounding districts His death in 1858 from a heart complaint at the age of 48 was a shock to the settlement.

Dr Rees has been an ardent supporter of all good causes organised for the benefit of Wanganui. He had been a keen gardener and wrote glowing accountsof the town's many advantages, and in particular of the fertility of the district. Here is an extract from a letter he wrote in December 1842: "Wanganui has got into notice in New Zealand merely by force of its natural capabilities, and scarcely a week passes without adding to our list of inhabitants. The expense of living here is indeed almost too insignificant to mention. We have an abundance of pigs and our rivers abounds with whitebait, eels, barracuda, kahawai, plaice, soles, oysters etc, etc; and not least the hapuka, the finest fish ever tasted. At the Heads of our river you can see fish weighing one hundredweight each in such quantities that it is impossible to count them. We have hanging in our smoking room hams, German sausage, bacon, saveloys, fish etc. In our salting tubs there is pork, and we get pigeons, duck, snipe etc. for the shooting. When I tell you that in my own garden I have growing among other things, peaches, apricots, plums, melons,strawberries, cabbage, peas, beans, brocoli, carrots, turnips, sweet peas etc. etc. Here one can live in ese without cost or trouble in one of the most genial and healthy climates in the world"

Dr Rees had been a Justice of the Peace and a Magistrate but his particular interest was the education o the children of Wanganui. His will stated that after providing for his wife the balance of his estate was to be devoted to the education of the children of this town, and in particular to the students of te Wanganui Girl's College and the former Wanganui Technical College, where a brass tablet in each school records the gratitude of these institutions. One of the houses in the present Wanganui Boys' College carries his name.

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Dr George Rees's Timeline

1810
1810
1841
1841
Age 31

Source: Book: The Wanganui Story by MJG Smart and AP Bates - Hutt City Library 993.54SMA
Page 92-93
" Writing in November 1841, Wakefield states, " I found that a considerable addition has been made to the white population of the settlement brought here by the vessel Clydeside, 230 tons."
Passengers on board this ship included Mr H.S Harrison, Miss Styles, Messrs Tod, Lyon, Mathieson, Dr and Mrs Rees, Captain and Mrs Campbell, four children and one servant, also Messrs Paterson, Duncan, Brown and ten intermediates possibly secon class or steerage passengers.

Page 200
The arrival at Wanganui of Dr George Rees was rather unusual for he reached here as a passenger on board the 230 ton barque Clydeside which arrive in Wanganui at the end of November 1841, and ran aground on a sandbank off Putiki. Passengers were laded in small boats and completed the journey to Wanganui on foot. The Clydeside was later refloated and continued in service for many years after. Dr Rees commenced the practice of his profession in a small cottage on the corner of Wicksteed Place and Campbell Place, but shortly afterwards shifted to a more central position on the southern corner of Taupo Quay and Trafalgar Place. He built his home with the materials of the day, mud or clay walls, with a thatched rooft, and a large outside chimney.

1844
1844
Age 34

Source: Book: The Wanganui Story by MJG Smart and AP Bates - Hutt City Library 993.54SMA
Page 203
He was appointed Colonial and Native Surgeon in 1844 and was also actively associated with Rev. Richard Taylor in the establishment and running of a small hospital at Putiki to care for the health of the Maori people. Dr Rees later shifted to more central premises in what was once the old Courthouse in Victoria Avenue next t the English Church where Selwyn Buildings are sited today. Here, he announce in the newspaper of the day, he was certain to be found at all hours.

1851
1851
Age 41

Source: Book: The Wanganui Story by MJG Smart and AP Bates - Hutt City Library 993.54SMA
Page 207-8
The old Colonial Hospital known as the Government Hospital stood on the Riverbank near the intersection of St. Georges Gate for nearly 50 years. The hospital was built by Mr Thomas Higgie during the early months of 1851.
The first medical supervisor of this hospital was Dr George Rees, who was appointed to the position in 1851. The salary was only $75 per annum, so the doctor not only carred on private practice, but also occupied the position of Native Medical Officer. By the end of year 1858 Dr Rees as succeeded by Dr G.H. Gibson, who carried out the duties of hospital supervisor for ten years.

1858
October 6, 1858
Age 48

Source: Book: The Wanganui Story by MJG Smart and AP Bates - Hutt City Library 993.54SMA
Page 203
He lived in Wanganui for only 17 years but gave faithful service to the people of the town and surrounding districts. His death in 1858 from a heart complaint at the ae of 48 was a shock to the settlement.

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