Cureland: The Spa as Metaphor

By John Horrocks.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The historic Rotorua spa complex in New Zealand, described in its promotional material as ‘Cureland’, provides a case study of the appeal of a holistic approach to health, incorporating diet, massage, and hydrotherapy, as well as the supposedly uplifting influence of scenery and the inspirational impact of music and genteel artworks. Its contemporary relevance is that the whole spa programme was an analogue to current health makeovers and the search for wellness. The healing process was managed by experts and the patients were encouraged to adopt an external health locus of control, in which they were described as victims of modern civilisation. A belief in the curative effects of mineral waters was reinforced by gadget quackery in the form of electrical equipment. Though treatments ceased in the 1960s, the spa remains a useful metaphor for enduring attempts to restore health in a specialised facility, available largely to a particular social class, and where the status and exclusiveness of the location are paramount.

Keywords: Spa, Locus of Control, Metaphors for Wellness, Massage, Holistic, Hydrotherapy, Social Class, Gadget Quackery

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.141-156. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.400MB).

Dr. John Horrocks

Research Coordinator, School of Social Services, Wellington Institute of Technology, Lower Hutt, Wellington Province, New Zealand

John Horrocks is a Research Coordinator in the School of Social Services at the Wellington Institute of Technology. He has an MA in Psychology from Auckland University and a PhD in English from Victoria University. He has wide experience in community campaigns on environmental issues, including two years as a full-time organiser and researcher for Friends of the Earth. He was the editor of ‘From Manapouri to Aramoana’, a history of environmental issues in New Zealand during the 1970s, and has written several articles on the issue of lead additives in petrol, including one as co-author of a leading article in the New Zealand Medical Journal.