It is a far cry from the old ‘paepae whakaarero’ perched on top of a cliff, to the modern water-closet properly fitted into a small room inside the house, but both have the same objective—that is, the rapid and complete removal of waste matter from the immediate vicinity.
The way the two systems achieve their objectives is well worth looking into.
The old system was undoubtedly successful in removing the very objectionable and dangerous waste matter rapidly from where it was produced. It was also very useful in protecting a man from being taken unawares by an enemy who might be waiting for an opportunity to attack him. In fact, in the old days, when New Zealand was still sparsely populated and many of the present epidemics were not in the country, the ‘paepae whakaarero’ might not have been the cause of much disease, although even then waste matter at the foot of the cliff might endanger water supplies.
If the ‘paepae whakaarero’ were used to-day, however, it would be very objectionable and dangerous.
On the other hand the waste matter deposited into the water-closet is carried away by a flush of water to the town's sewerage system, or to a suitable septic tank. In either case, the final disposal of the waste matter is achieved in such a way that there is no fouling of somebody else's living place.
It would be best if everybody could enjoy the convenience and cleanliness of a water-flushed closet in the home, but for many reasons that is not yet possible, so we need to think of other ways of getting rid of body wastes.
The simplest way of all is the one which Moses gave to the Children of Israel—that is, for every man, woman or child to dig a small hole in the earth and deposit their body wastes into it, and then immediately fill up the hole. It is such a simple method that one wonders why it is not always done, but unfortunately, people grow careless, or think they are in such a hurry to be doing something else, that the filling up of the hole is neglected.
Speaking of holes in the ground reminds us of other methods which may be used for getting rid of larger quantities of these body wastes.
Probably the best of these is the bored hole privy, or tube privy, which is very easily constructed in suitable soil with the use of a 10 inch post-hole borer, and any Health Inspector can help with instructions as to how this excellent arrangement can be fixed up. He may even be able to arrange for the loan of a post-hole borer of the right size, or to advise what other method can be used in a particular case.
Some of the modern chemical closets are very good because they prevent flies from getting on to the body wastes, and then spreading filth and disease germs.
A modern, water-flushed closet may be provided in a country district if the soil is suitable for disposing of the liquid from a septic tank, but it is a fairly expensive arrangement, though if one can afford the cost, it is almost the complete answer to the problem of disposing of these body wastes in a safe and sanitary way.
Whatever your problem may be in getting rid of waste matter, get into touch with your local Health Inspector, and you will find him most helpful in supplying a suitable answer.
Let us examine some of the reasons why it is necessary to arrange for the rapid and complete removal of these body wastes.
At best such wastes are very objectionable, as already stated, and at worst, they may be very dangerous because they may contain the germs of dangerous diseases. Body wastes, as everybody knows, are attractive to flies, which will feed freely on them.
Picking up filth on their feet, legs and bodies and sucking it into their stomachs, these same flies will later settle on our food if they can, or on our cups, plates, knives and forks and other food utensils, and even on our faces and hands, and they leave behind them traces of filth wherever they walk or rest. Because flies have no mouths they cannot eat solid foods, but they are very fond of some solid foods that are soluble, such as sugar. In order to get a feed of sugar they keep on vomiting drops of the filthy liquid from their stomachs on to the hard sugar to dissolve it, and then sucking back the sweetened vomit. They cannot suck up all the vomit, and when they fly away they always leave some of it on the sugar, together with some of the disease germs which we mentioned before. The same applies to other foods which flies feed on, and this is one way in which diseases are spread.
Again, filth lying about on the ground may be picked up on the shoes and then get on to the hands when shoes are being handled, or a child's ball or other toy may be dropped and pick up filth which gets on to the child's hands in further playing with the toy.
If a person's hands become infected with disease germs in these ways, it is easy to see how many things the person can infect. Everything he touches is liable to become infected, and to pass on infection to other people who touch those same things.