31st May 2013, Volume 126 Number 1375

b 22 Aug 1919 d 4 Feb 2013; ED (1968), MB ChB NZ (1941), MRACP (1948), FRACP (1958), MRCP Lond (1949), FRCP Lond (1968)

Guy Pieremont (Ponty) Hallwright was born in Wairoa, the son of Matthew Leslie Guy Hallwright, surgeon and his wife Ethel Pieremont. He died in Wellington on 4 February 2013, aged 93 yrs.


There was a strong medical heritage. His paternal grandfather Matthew practiced medicine in Birmingham, England.

Matthew had two medical sons, Francis who also practiced in Birmingham, and Matthew Leslie Guy Hallwright, Ponty’s father. He was a surgeon who had practiced in British Honduras before coming to NZ, initially to Westport and then to Wairoa. Ponty’s brother William is a retired Auckland surgeon, and his daughter Susan is an Otago medical graduate.

In 1946, Ponty married Hilda (Min) Barrowclough, a secondary school teacher, and they had three sons and a daughter. That marriage was dissolved, and in 1966, he married Mary Wood, a nurse.

He was educated at Huntley School (Marton) and at Wanganui Collegiate School. At the age of 16 years, in possession of an Exhibition Scholarship, he moved to Dunedin to study medicine.

He graduated in 1941 with distinction in Medicine and was awarded the NZ Medical Graduates’ Medal in Clinical Medicine and the Marjorie McCallum Medal in Medicine.

He proceeded to Wellington Hospital to be house physician during 1942. Many of the medical staff were away on active service. In 1943 Ponty was appointed Assistant Pathologist and would remain in this role for 2 years. He was able to join the 2 N.Z.E.F. in 1945, once his brother Bill returned from overseas service, replacing him in the Pathology Department.

He served in Egypt, Italy and in Japan as Pathologist and Medical Officer, in 2, 3, 5, and 6 NZ General Hospitals. He returned to Wellington Hospital as medical registrar for 1947 and 1948. He then headed for England for postgraduate studies. In 1949 he was RMO to Professor John McMichael at Hammersmith Hospital, and the following year was RMO at the National Heart Hospital.

There he developed a reputation as the hardest working and best RMO that the consultant staff had seen at the Heart Hospital and for many years afterwards his performance was held up as the benchmark for subsequent holders of that position. In 1951 he became Chief Assistant to the Professorial Medical Unit at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Returning to Wellington Hospital in 1952, he took up a full-time assistant physician role and was Medical Tutor. The following year he became part-time and established a private consulting practice. He was involved in some of the earliest cardiac catheterisations done at Wellington Hospital, and continued to participate in this area until 1964. In 1955 he was appointed visiting physician to the newly created hypertension clinic. This would be the main focus of his hospital practice until he retired.

Following Sir Charles Burns retirement, Ponty was appointed visiting physician to the cardiology department and was made Head of that service in 1960. He handed over that role to Peter Leslie in 1979 and fully retired in 1985. He is remembered as a hard-working clinician with high standards, especially in regard to the recording of blood pressure. He published a paper on that subject, ‘Recording the Blood Pressure – who, when and how’ in the NZMJ in 1988. He was a champion for the accurate documentation of patient history and examination findings.

Apart from his clinical duties he participated in a remarkable range of professional activities. He was chairman of the Wellington Hospital Medical Staff and of the combined Medical Staffs of the Wellington Hospital Board.

He was an external examiner for the University of Otago, and was the last Sub-Dean Wellington Branch Faculty of Medicine before the creation of the Wellington Clinical School.

He was a member of the founding committee that met to establish the National Heart Foundation of NZ, and served periods as a Councillor and as a member of the Scientific Committee. He was chairman of the Wellington Regional Committee for some years.

He was chairman of the NZ Committee of the Cardiac Society of Australia and NZ 1967–72.

Within the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, he was a member of the NZ Committee, a member of the NZ Board of Censors and chairman of the NZ Specialist Advisory Committee, Cardiology.

In 1953, he rejoined the territorial RNZAMC and rose to the rank of Brigadier. He was assistant DMS Army 1966–72, and DGMS Defence 1972–74. He was made Colonel Commandant, RNZAMC 1975–80.

His extracurricular interests included golf, wine and bridge.

He is survived by his wife Mary and his four children and is remembered by many as a wise mentor, a valued colleague and a good friend.

Dr Ron Easthope (a friend and former colleague of Dr Hallwright) wrote this obituary.