Old hospital a spooky drawcard

The old medical homestead that formed part of Waikato Hospital is now part of the Heritage Village at Mystery Creek. Photo – Adam Edwards.

Something spooky was happening at the Heritage Village during the Fieldays’ 50-year anniversary last week. Legend has it the former Waikato Hospital, located in the village, is haunted.

“It’s very possible that it’s haunted,” Cambridge Historical Society committee member Irene Cooper said. “It is an old hospital after all.”

In 1889, the Waikato Hospital Board established a medical homestead on a 50-acre block of land which became known as the first Waikato Hospital. The first patient was James J Daley from Pirongia, whose hand was shattered by a gun barrel bursting.

Daley went out early one morning to scare off some sparrows. He was using his brother Charlie’s gun that had an old muzzle-loading piece that was a relic from the Waikato Wars.

It was not an efficiently designed weapon and due to a mistake when loading the gun, an air lock caused the whole barrel to burst open and shatter half of his left hand.

In Te Awamutu, he was told that his hand would have to be amputated, but Daley had heard about a hospital in Hamilton which he went to for a second opinion. As a result, he underwent treatment in Hamilton, only losing his thumb and two fingers and keeping the remainder of his hand.

At Mystery Creek, the hospital includes beds, supplies and other furniture from its heyday.

The Cambridge Historical Society had a search game offering a lollipop as the prize to help entice the younger generation to learn.

A very excited eight-year-old Anna Smith did not care about the lollipops, she was there because she had heard from other people at Fieldays that the hospital was haunted, and she was intrigued.

“A man by the tractors told me that this place [the hospital] was haunted. That’s so cool,” Anna said. “Mum, can we go see the ghosts?” she had requested.

The old homestead was moved to the Heritage Village in the 1970s.

The Heritage Village is open by appointment, with the committee looking at opportunities to open the history-filled acre to the public more frequently.

The village includes an old school house, the old Kihikihi jail, a blacksmith’s forge and Mystery Creek Motors.

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