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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 8 (January 15, 1927)

The Virility of the Dominions

page 17

The Virility of the Dominions

“It was not very long ago since all civilised nations accepted the figures of their birth rates as, at least, a crude test of their virility and an index to their standing in the world,” says Sir. W. Arbuthnot Lane, the famous surgeon, in the “Daily Mail.” “Even now the anxiety shown by many persons about the steady decline in our birth rate is an indication that the idea of ‘quantity’ dies hard. We are only very slowly learning that what really matters is the quality and standard of the health of the average individual. Even the death rate is a better test of a nation's well being than the birth rate, especially when it shows the number of infants saved compared with the awful mortality that prevailed a few decades ago. By these tests the Dominions of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Canada in the order named, stand easily highest in the world. The people of the British Dominions live nearer to nature both in their work and in their food. Their high standards of social welfare are known to the world. In addition to what alert intelligence and natural fortune have brought them, they have the boldness to accept, without question, the latest teaching in matters of health. In his latest report the Director-General of Health for New Zealand proudly claims that ‘there is probably no country in the world to-day where the fundamentals of healthy growth, fresh air, sunlight, food of
“The Pioneer” Paradise, Lake Wakatipu, South Island.

“The Pioneer” Paradise, Lake Wakatipu, South Island.

the right type and amount, adequate sleep and rest, wholesome exercise, are more readily available than in New Zealand.’ But he is careful to add that these benefits should be more fully utilised. School medical officers report that ‘tea, white bread and meat play the chief part of the dietary in many homes.’ ‘In New Zealand eggs, milk, cheese, butter and fresh fruit and vegetables should be available in such abundance and at low enough prices to take the place of the excessive use of meat in many households.’

“Our kinsmen overseas realise that it is not enough to save their babies, but that health education must proceed right through the school period until the right habits are ingrained in the minds of the people. Through their health camps and nutrition classes the New Zealand authorities have transformed the physical and mental condition of many thousands of their people. We ourselves, and not the germs waiting to attack us, prepare the ground for the frequent temporary illnesses that afflict the vast majority. When the end comes it is the final stage of a long trail of bodily disorders which should never have happened.

“The remedy lies in the great trilogy of healthy living, right food, fresh air, and sunlight. Wholemeal bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and other dairy produce,—these are the ideal fuel for the human engine.”