Helping Hands is, for the first time, a history of health care in a New Zealand region from pre-European days to today. While the story of health challenges and responses to them deals specifically with the Wairarapa, the events, experiences and flavour of changes to medical practices and patient needs will have been very similar throughout the rest of the country. There are chapters on early Maori health, the very limited health care of the early European period, the first doctors, nurses and hospitals. The towns in the region – Featherston, Martinborough, Greytown, Carterton, Masterton and Eketahuna – have developed their health services, moulded by circumstances and personalities, in distinctive ways. Helping Hands covers the health of the region through epidemics and new medical discoveries, depression and world wars and describes the tensions between national requirements or political agendas and local needs. It also outlines the often bewildering and acronym-filled health bureaucracy of today and the decades of political tinkering that has led to present structures and the ‘contracting’ out of many services . Helping Hands is an important social history focussing on the life and death issues that are central to the functioning and progress of communities. Hundreds of photographs complement the text.