Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences


This project has been a truly collaborative endeavour. It began when Professor John Werry approached me in 2017 suggesting it would be a good idea to conduct structured interviews with some of the early academic staff of the Auckland Medical School. John gave a donation to the University of Auckland Foundation to set up this oral history project, and I contracted Dr Debbie Dunsford to carry out the interviews. As the 50th anniversary approached, the FMHS Deputy Dean Professor Ian Reid contacted me about how to commemorate the event, and I could tell him that we had already begun collecting information about the history.

To advance the project I suggested two summer scholarships under my supervision to locate archives and photographs and to conduct further interviews. The two scholars from the Department of History, Rowan Light and Ryan Brown-Haysom, made a great contribution during the summer of 2017-18 and Ryan was available to carry out further interviews as 2018 progressed. A third History Department graduate student, Andrew Hart, also contributed by basing his MA thesis on the origin and early years of the school, under my supervision. Copies of all the interviews conducted for the project are being deposited in the University of Auckland Special Collections.

In 2018 a proposal was put forward to utilise the interviews and research in an online history, and Tatjana Bukljas, an historian based at the Liggins Institute, helped us to plan this. During this time we also found the audio-visual interviews of the first four Deans, conducted by Professor Jack Sinclair, Professor  John Carman and Dr Cam Maclaurin, for the 25th anniversary, which proved a great bonus. In addition we were able to access a number of interviews with former staff, recorded in 2008 by oral historian Megan Hutchings.

Additional research for the online history, was undertaken by Dr Derek Dow, who wrote the bulk of the text. He made considerable use of the interviews referred to above, and acknowledges the further input from people such as Graham White, the first lecturer appointed to the Medical School in 1967 (who had originally been interviewed by Debbie) and Peter Charlesworth, one of the inaugural intake of students in 1968.

And finally, how to design the website? While Derek and I worked on how to structure the website, we had no idea about the processes of web design, so we recruited Martin Bryder Dow, a third-year Architecture student who happens to be our son, for this role. His design skills have been crucial to the final product, enhanced by his perceptive suggestions when he thought we were straying from the straight and narrow.

Take a look at the online history, and you will see an informative and entertaining combination of explanatory text, quotes and soundbites from the interviews, along with rich archival and pictorial sources.  We recommend for good quality audio that you use headphones when listening to the clips, though this is not essential.

For any queries or additional information you are welcome to contact Dr Derek Dow (d.dow@auckland.ac.nz).


Professor Linda Bryder DPhil (Oxon) FRSNZ
History, School of Humanities