Pae­di­a­tri­cian ac­tive in Ma¯ori health

Upper Hutt Leader - - CONVERSATIONS -

Leo Buchanan (Taranaki, Te ti Awa, Nga¯ti Ruanui) pae­di­a­tri­cian, kauma¯tua: b Pe­tone, Welling­ton, March 29, 1941; mMary English; 6d, 3s; d Welling­ton, Oc­to­ber 11, 2017, aged 76.

Leo Fran­cis John Buchanan was a well-known pae­di­a­tri­cian, proud Ma¯ori, de­vout Catholic, rugby nut and a lover of art and mu­sic.

His daugh­ter, Rachel Buchanan, says he helped thou­sands of Kiwi chil­dren flour­ish, par­tic­u­larly through his work to in­crease breast­feed­ing rates in Ma¯ori com­mu­ni­ties, save pre­ma­ture ba­bies and help chil­dren with At­ten­tion Deficit Hyper­ac­tiv­ity Dis­or­der (ADHD).

He was also ‘‘a driv­ing force be­hind the Ma¯ori trust that built low-cost apart­ments at Greta Point for de­scen­dants of Te Aro Pa¯’’, she says.

Leo was born in Pe­tone in 1941. He was raised in Karori and ed­u­cated at Auck­land’s Sa­cred Heart Col­lege be­fore go­ing on to study medicine at the Univer­sity of Otago, Dunedin.

It was there he met Mary English, old­est sis­ter of for­mer prime min­is­ter Bill English, and the pair mar­ried in 1966, be­fore Leo went on to train at hos­pi­tals in Ti­maru, Whanganui and In­ver­cargill and then to Mel­bourne’s Royal Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal.

While in Aus­tralia Leo was ap­pointed a se­nior pae­di­atric reg­is­trar at the Queen Vic­to­ria Med­i­cal Hospi­tal and he also worked at Grosvenor Di­ag­nos­tic and As­sess­ment Hospi­tal in Syd­ney.

By 1972 Leo was back in New Zealand, where he be­came the first pae­di­a­tri­cian ap­pointed to Taranaki Base Hospi­tal in New Ply­mouth.

In the early 1980s, a fam­ily car was a for­mer hearse. Leo called it Morty, a play on the Latin word for death. He would en­cour­age his chil­dren to lie down in the back then quickly sit up and start wav­ing at other mo­torists. More than one driver re­ceived a ter­ri­ble fright.

‘‘We pro­vide a ser­vice that goes from the cra­dle to the grave,’’ he would say mer­rily as he parked

In 1992, Leo Buchanan moved back to Welling­ton, where he worked at Hutt Hospi­tal un­til his re­tire­ment in 2011.

Morty out­side the in­ten­sive care unit for very sick ba­bies that he set up at Taranaki Base Hospi­tal.

From New Ply­mouth, Leo went on to serve as med­i­cal su­per­in­ten­dent and chief pae­di­a­tri­cian at Master­ton, and then on to Hamil­ton and fi­nally, in 1992, back to Welling­ton, where he worked at Hutt Hospi­tal un­til his re­tire­ment in 2011.

Two years later, as the Royal Aus­tralasian Col­lege of Physi­cians’ Ma¯ori Health Com­mit­tee’s foun­da­tional chair, Leo was the re­cip­i­ent of the Te Nga¯kau Ora award for ser­vices to Ma¯ori com­mu­ni­ties and health devel­op­ment.

He also re­ceived the John Sands medal for out­stand­ing ser­vice to the col­lege, Rachel says.

Leo was buried at new Taranaki wha¯nui Opau urupa in Makara with a Marist St Pat’s Rugby Foot­ball Club scarf in one hand, a tweed hat in the other and a raukura pinned on the lapel of his wool trench-coat.

‘‘A blan­ket that be­longed to his mother, Raw­inia, cov­ered his legs,’’ Rachel said. ‘‘Leo had also re­quested to be buried with his stetho­scope and some chil­dren’s toys; sym­bols not just of his mar­vel­lous work as a pae­di­a­tri­cian but also of his play­ful, ec­cen­tric na­ture.’’

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