About this site

In 2007, the Physiotherapy New Zealand History Working Group was formed to begin the preparations for the profession's centenary in 2013.

The group's intention was to collect material for a 'virtual archive' of physiotherapy that would include sound, images and text rather than the more conventional commemorative text.

Most of the existing archive material was held at the Hocken Library in the University of Otago, thanks to the incredible work of Enid Anderson and, later Barbara Hetherington, in completing the work for Anderson's history of the first 50 years of the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapy (now Physiotherapy New Zealand). But the archives had been long neglected and included many notable omissions.

The Working Group set out with the task of improving the archives and also agreed to undertake some oral histories with older and notable New Zealand physiotherapists.

Since 2007, and with the support of Physiotherapy New Zealand, the Working Group has recorded more than 150 hours of oral history from all over New Zealand; trawled archives and libraries from Invercargill to Kaitaia; scanned more than 1,000 texts and acquired more than 300 images, 700 physiotherapy books, and countless copies of the New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy.

The group's mission has been a simple one: to preserve the legacy of physiotherapy in New Zealand by gathering together and cataloguing all the resources they can find.

Knowing that no complete history of a profession can ever exist, the group has concentrated more on making the stories of everyday physiotherapists visible than trying to tell the whole story.


There are a many people who have been involved in this project that we would like to acknowledge. Firstly, a big thank you goes to the people that shared their stories with us or donated documents, books and photographs. Most especially we would like to thank Margaret Almao, Ethel Barnes, Jane Bradshaw, Helen Cranwell, Pat De Carteret, Sue Doesburg, Erik Dombroski, Marion Fletcher, Margaret Griffiths, Barbara Hetherington, Julie Jacobson, Gwyneth Jones, Mike Lamont, Lois Martin, Don McKenzie, Margaret Moon, Nicky Nunn, Vivienne Pearce, Vicki Reid, Anna Russell, Margaret Smith and Frank Weedon.

We would also like to a acknowledge the support provided by the History Working Group in the early years of the project: Erik Dombroski, Barbara Hetherington, Gill Johnson, Ann McKellar.

A big thank you goes to Hayley Brown and Shannon Chan whose professional and painstaking work at Archives New Zealand provided us with such a rich catalogue of resources. Similarly, thanks go to Isabella Doak, Jana De Buyzer and Martin Burke for cataloguing the Hocken Library archive and the back catalogue of New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy articles.

To Victoria Galpin for her work with the SIGs and Branches and to Karen Garthwaite who did a huge amount of work editing the oral histories. A big thank you goes to Anne Somerville in Rotorua and Anna Blackman at the Hocken Library, all the staff at Archives New Zealand, and the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand. To Peter Unsworth, Rabbit Creative, Cyberglue, and most especially the designers and developers at Hey Day, who have turned our virtual archive into a reality. And a great debt of thanks goes to the staff at Physiotherapy New Zealand who have supported this project with their precious time and energy.

Finally, a thank you to the members of Physiotherapy New Zealand who supported this project. We hope you like it and continue to find it a fascinating and useful insight into our wonderful profession in the years to come.

Dr David Nicholls

Chair, New Zealand Physiotherapy History Working Group Head of Physiotherapy AUT University


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