Moira Brown 1919-2008.
Article Type: Obituary
Subject: Physical therapists (Biography)
Author: Askew, Lesley M.
Pub Date: 11/01/2008
Publication: Name: New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy Publisher: New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists ISSN: 0303-7193
Issue: Date: Nov, 2008 Source Volume: 36 Source Issue: 3
Product: Product Code: 8043600 Physical Therapists NAICS Code: 62134 Offices of Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapists, and Audiologists SIC Code: 8049 Offices of health practitioners, not elsewhere classified
Persons: Biographee: Brown, Moira Elizabeth
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 207945644
Full Text: Born Moira Elizabeth Brown on 12 August 1919, Moira spent the early part of her life in Island Bay, Wellington. She died in Havelock North on 19 July 2008.


Moira was a late starter into physiotherapy at the age of 26 in 1945. Her first work experience was as a Burroughs book-keeping machinist for the State Advances Corporation of New Zealand. Initially not selected for the core group of 40 to begin training she took the initiative of visiting the Hospital Board Office in Dunedin to be told that she was 5th on the waiting list and "would she come if she was called". This visit had a most positive outcome and she soon received notification that she was accepted. She commenced her training at the Otago School of Physiotherapy graduating with distinction in 1947, and receiving the Fitzgerald Trophy in Electrotherapy. She was first registered under the Masseurs Registration Act 1920 and was then among the first group of masseurs to be registered as physiotherapists under the Physiotherapy Act 1940 in February 1948.

Moira went on to spend many years practising as a physiotherapist firstly in Christchurch then Balclutha and finally Wellington. It was in Wellington that she spent the majority of her working life. For 14 years she worked in the cardiothoracic unit at Wellington Hospital gaining a great deal of respect not just from the patients she treated, but also from her medical colleagues. Many of these colleagues kept in touch with her throughout the subsequent years.

When interviewing candidates for physiotherapy she showed surprising astuteness and judgement of character. One of her later prospective students remembers being interviewed by Moira who looked at his hands to see if they were suitable for physiotherapy practice!! (He later became a well known and experienced manipulative therapist.) The third year students she tutored for three years in the early 1950's had lasting respect for her, as she did them. Many of those ex-students made names for themselves internationally or gained prominence in New Zealand physiotherapy circles.

Most New Zealand physiotherapists will be unaware that Moira was the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists' first WCPT delegate at the First General Meeting of the Confederation when New Zealand became one of the 11 founding members of the organisation. She also represented the New Zealand Government at this meeting and later WCPT Executive meetings. Moira also chaired one of the afternoon sessions of the associated congress held at Westminster Central Hall. Moira retained her interest in international physiotherapy attending the International WCPT congress in Montreal, immediately followed by attendance at the Westminster Rehabilitation Seminar in London.

In 1967 she was appointed Deputy Advisory Physiotherapist to the Department of Health, progressing to Advisory Physiotherapist in 1976 following the retirement of Glen Park. She retained this position until her retirement in 1979. Her work involved her visiting all the hospitals in New Zealand, and attending a number of overseas conferences as NZ Representative for the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists. The role also included being Registrar for the Physiotherapy Board.

During the transfer of physiotherapy education to the Department of Education in the early 1970's Moira was closely associated with all the negotiation procedures. These culminated in the establishment of a second school of physiotherapy based at the Auckland Technical Institute in 1973 and the transfer of the Otago School of Physiotherapy to the Otago Polytechnic in 1977.

Her appetite for travel and for ongoing extended family connection was keen and she went on to have many trips to the Pacific Islands, Australia, the USA and Canada, and Europe. On her retirement she toured Israel, Europe and the USA. Crossword puzzles, the Evening Post Letters to the Editor, and news and current affairs kept her memory alive and her mind sharp all her life. She was also a religious follower of rugby and for a long time in Wellington she held season tickets at Athletic Park.

Her church has always played a big part in Moira's life. She was very much involved in both the Berhampore and the Island Bay Baptist Church and later at the Hastings Baptist Church. Moira also gave unstinting service to the Baptist Womens Missionary Union and the Girls Life Brigade becoming deputy commissioner of the Wellington/ Lower Hutt Division.

Shortly after Moira retired in 1979, she felt strongly led to live in Havelock North, moving there in 1983. Moira valued her local friends and put an enormous amount of time and effort into building and sustaining her relationships. Moira lived happily in Havelock North for nearly 25 years.

Moira's contribution to physiotherapy and physiotherapists in New Zealand was significant. Her advice was always given in a firm but quietly unassuming manner. Her previous working colleagues hold her in high regard and remember her with fondness.
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.