Kai Hanga Rongoa – The Medicine Maker, Whanganui

Recently I was given 3 very important and rare chemist bottle labels that are written in Te Reo Maori. These are unused on a sheet of gummed paper ready to cut and attach to a chemist bottle. These had been found in old documents and papers by the later owner of the chemist shop, Mr Arcus, In my 30 years of collecting and researching NZ Pharmacy history, the likes of these has not been seen.

The chemist that had these printed was Albert E Kitchen of Wanganui, whose record is on the register of Pharmaceutical Chemists on 12 December 1888. In approximately 1890 Mr. Kitchen purchased the old established chemist business from Mr. J. Wakefield, where Mr. Kitchen had acted as a head dispenser for the previous 3.5 years.

This handsome 2 storied brick and masonry building still stands at 15-17 Victoria Avenue, and atop if refers to the establishment of the business in 1858. This was by Mr. W. T Owen, the town’s first chemist.

The business was the closest chemist shop to the Whanganui River, and the Town Bridge that crosses to the south side. It is about 2 kilometres down the south side towards the river mouth that the historic Putiki Pa is located.

One can conjecturise that Mr. Kitchen regularly had Maori from Putiki Pa visiting him, and with a depth of concern and professionalism, he saw the need to have these medicines fully labelled in Te Reo Maori.

I am indebted to my friend Anne Thompson for arranging the accompanying translation of the labels. There is much of interest in these. Even Mr. Kitchen’s name has been translated to “A.E.Kitini”. On 2 of the labels he is “Kai Hanga Rongoa” (The Medicine Maker) and on the 3rd a “Kemiti” (Chemist).

These labels are a wonderful window into the late 19th Century Maori/European contact, and display the level of deep sincerity and respect that Mr. Kitchen held for this local Maori community from Putiki Pa.



Bronchitis Medicine

For cough, wheezing and sickness affecting the chest.

How to take it. (Eat / Kainga / Dose).

Adults, two small spoons with food until better.

Children, 8-12 years, one small spoon. For children 3 to 8 years, one very small spoon. For children 3 years old and under, half a teaspoon.

Made by

A. E. Kitchen

Medicine Maker

Victoria Avenue, Whanganui.





An effective remedy, to strengthen the body, all over.


One Teaspoon of medicine, mixed with a little water, twice a day with (or shortly after) food.

For children half a teaspoon.

A. E. Kitchen

Medicine Maker

Victoria Avenue, Whanganui.





Kitchen Enterprises

For sore stomach. –for 10 or up to 20 times (Nga Turu), mixed with 2 large spoons of water and drink immediately after food. To keep the sore stomach well, one teaspoon of medicine in the morning and the evening.


Made by,


Chemist, Whanganui