Lives of the fellows

Malcolm Watt

b.23 October 1917 d.11 October 2004
MB ChB NZ(1961) MRCP(1947) FRCP(1970) FRCP Edin FRACP

Malcolm Watt was born in Lower Hutt into a prominent medical family. His father, Michael Watt, became director general of health in New Zealand and his older brother, James, became the first professor of paediatrics at the Otago medical school. His mother was Mary Roberta May McCahon from Timaru.

Malcolm was educated at Wellington College and Otago University, where he was a rugby blue. He was a house surgeon at Wellington Hospital and during the war served in the Pacific as a medical officer in the RNZAF. Thereafter he resumed postgraduate study in London and at Hammersmith and as was usual for expatriate physicians in training, sat the London membership. When he passed he was one of only 70 successful candidates out of 560.

In 1948, he returned to New Zealand to live in Lower Hutt, where he was appointed a visiting physician to the Hutt Hospital, a post he later combined with that of chief medical officer to the NZ branch of the AMP Society and the medical directorship of Ciba Geigy NZ Ltd. His professional and public interest and responsibilities were widespread. He served as chairman of the Hutt Valley division of the NZ Medical Association and was a founder of the NZ Committee on Adverse Drug Reactions, which he chaired from 1965. He became a consultant to the International Drug Monitoring Unit and was on the committee of the National Society of Alcoholism.

Malcolm Watt was diligent, quietly spoken and universally liked. He was happily married to Raema Margaret Luke, daughter of Wellington surgeon Eric Luke. They had two daughters, Mary Bennett and Susan Jackman. To his sorrow, both Raema and Mary predeceased him.

As he became older he was rarely seen in Hutt medical circles, but his last visit was a remarkable one, when his former ward sister arranged transport for him to attend the opening by the Governor General of the new cardiac centre in the Heretaunga wing of the Hutt Hospital in 2001. His enjoyment was obvious when he told Dame Sylvia Cartwright how delighted he was to see the Hutt Hospital as a real hospital at last with its own district health board, no longer the 'poor relation' of Wellington.

His long time clinical colleague, Malcolm Hames Watson recalls that they never shared a cross word. He died peacefully in Waikanae.

M H Watson

(Volume XII, page web)

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