Auckland Medical graduate honoured as the 2014 New Zealander of the Year

28 February 2014

Doctor Lance O'Sullivan who graduated from the University of Auckland in 2002 was announced this week as the 2014 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year. The Kaitaia-based doctor was honoured for his leadership, vision and advocacy in healthcare, particularly the work being done in his low-cost clinic Te Kohanga Whakaora which provides basic healthcare to people in the far north. ‘Western medicine delivered kaupapa Maori style’ was one summation of his work from NZ Doctor magazine. Dr O’Sullivan also told NZ Doctor that his nomination was an opportunity to raise awareness about the health issues affecting communities in the far north - poor housing, low health literacy and the unequal access to healthcare services.

Chief judge Cameron Bennett said of the award: "Lance O'Sullivan's passion, drive and unwavering commitment to eradicating poverty related illnesses are exactly the kind of qualities we look for. He's a fine choice to carry the mantle of 2014 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year."

Dr O'Sullivan's Manawa Ora Korokoro Ora programme at Kaitaia Primary School is Northland's first full-time, school-based health clinic, which provides medical care to 2000 children at 14 primary and intermediate schools. Dr O'Sullivan also created the Kainga Ora initiative, which fixes run-down homes, and this week he launched a telemedicine pilot programme funded by the Ministry of Health through which he hopes to conduct safe and effective remote assessments on 500 children in 10 isolated schools using iPads and electronic tools.

It is noteworthy that one of the other two finalists in this year’s Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year was Catriona Williams , the former national equestrian competitor who became a tetraplegic following a fall. Rather than accept her situation, Catriona and her friends set about trying to help find a cure for spinal injuries and the CatWalk Trust they established has raised millions of dollars for research and support activities. The CatWalk Trust supports research being conducted in the Centre for Brain Research by Professor Louise Nicholson and Dr Simon O’Carroll, and the trust is also a sponsor of the annual Brain Bee Challenge school outreach.