CBE, K.St John, LLD, FRCS, FRACS, FRANZCO, JP (1923–2014)
Dr Lindo Ferguson died peacefully on 19 January 2014 at the age of 90 years.
Lindo was born in an historic home on his parents’ dairy farm at Waimate North.
He was educated by a governess until the family moved to Dunedin during the 1929 depression when he was aged 7.
He attended John McGlashan School in Dunedin, Christ’s College in Christchurch, and the Otago Medical School.
He graduated MBChB in 1947 and won the Ardagh Memorial Prize for Clinical Medicine.
Lindo’s ophthalmology training was at the famed Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.
He returned to New Zealand in 1952, set up a private practice in Auckland, and was subsequently appointed as a part-time visiting ophthalmologist to Auckland Hospital.
In ophthalmology, Lindo was the initiator and organiser of the first part one examination course for the FRACS in ophthalmology in Auckland and was convenor for the ophthalmology training scheme for New Zealand.
He was President of the Ophthalmological Society of New Zealand in 1980. He was Chairman of the Auckland committee of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons from 1978 to 1980 and was a member of the Board of Examiners of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons from 1972 to 1982.
Lindo, with Professor John Parr of Dunedin, led negotiations with the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists in the 1980s to allow trainees in New Zealand to take the examinations of the Australian College after the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons had ceased examining in ophthalmology.
This was a milestone towards full specialist training in ophthalmology in New Zealand and Dr Ferguson and Professor Parr were both awarded honorary fellowship of the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists in 1982. Their efforts led ultimately to a full merging of the Ophthalmological Society of New Zealand with the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists to form the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists.
Of interest, Lindo’s grandfather, Sir Lindo Ferguson, was New Zealand’s first fully trained ophthalmologist, who arrived in Dunedin in 1883. In 1909 he was appointed Professor of Ophthalmology, more because of his personal attributes than the importance of ophthalmology at that time. Subsequently he was appointed Dean of the Otago Medical School, and to this day is New Zealand’s longest-serving medical Dean, 23 years, from 1914 to 1937.
Lindo’s involvement in public affairs started in 1952 when his love of heritage was elevated to activism by the recent demolition of Partington’s Mill, in Symonds Street, Auckland, which had been a very prominent city landmark since 1850. Its demolition, Lindo said, was merely to provide two car parks for Seabrook Fowlds Motors. Lindo put pamphlets into letterboxes, and was elected to the Auckland City Council on a platform of heritage protection. This launched his massive involvement in civic affairs.
In local government Lindo was on the Auckland City Council from 1968 to 1977 and Deputy Mayor of Auckland from 1971 to 1977. He was Deputy Chairman of the Auckland Regional Authority from 1980 to 1983 and 1985 to 1986, and Deputy Chairman of the Auckland Regional Council from 1988 to 1992. In these posts he took the initiative in the acquisition and restoration of Ewelme Cottage, Kinder House, and Highwic, and in the rescue of the old Customs House.
In community affairs Lindo was President of the Auckland Institute and Museum Council and was made an honorary life member and Companion of the Auckland Institute and Museum Council in 2002. He was Chairman of the Auckland Regional Committee for the Order of St John and was made Knight of St John in 1994. He was Chairman of the Youthlink Family Trust, Deputy Chairman of the New Zealand Retirement Life Care Residencies Trust, member of the MacKelvie Trust Board, member of the Auckland Heritage Trust, member of the New Zealand Police Centennial Trust, member of the Board of Management of the Auckland Art Gallery, and was made an honorary member of the Rotary Club (Auckland).
He was co-Chairman of the Orakei Marae Development Council, which was responsible for the development of the marae. He was President of the Northern Club and also a Trustee of the Club, and was a Director of R & W Hellaby Limited and of Ports of Auckland. One of his greatest loves was his long-standing membership of the Cornwall Park Trust Board, and his Chairmanship of the Logan Campbell Residuary Estate for 16 years. The Lindo Ferguson Education Centre in Cornwall Park perpetuates his contributions.
Lindo became a member of the University of Auckland Council in 1977 and was Chancellor of the University of Auckland from 1981 to 1987. He was a promoter of tertiary education for Maori.
In 1970 Lindo and Laetitia purchased a 28-hectare property on the shores of Mangonui Harbour in Northland. The property included an historic house built by a whaler, Captain Butler, in 1847. Lindo and Laetitia thoroughly restored the house and furnished it in its period, and it was joint winner in the domestic building section of the Historic Places Trust/Placemakers-sponsored building restoration competition in 1985.
Also on the property are an historic cemetery, and a Maori Pa, which the Fergusons maintain in conjunction with Northland Maori. Lindo built up an extensive museum of whaling.
Their beautiful property with its Pa, cemetery, historic house, whaling museum, and extensive gardens, has been much visited, especially by Northland school groups on educational trips.
Laetitia, his widow, has also done significant community work, which has included the Orakei Marae, the St Stephens and Queen Victoria Schools Trust Board, the Prisoners Aid home visiting team, and Vice-President of New Zealand Riding for the Disabled.
Lindo was a natural, thoughtful leader, who became chairman of most organisations to which he belonged. He was a generous, able, and unassuming man, who made wide-ranging contributions to our nation. Lindo was awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal in 1975, an honorary Doctor of Laws from The University of Auckland in 1986, and the CBE in 1987. That Lindo was never knighted remains beyond belief to all those who knew him. He and his grandfather Sir Lindo Ferguson were two great New Zealanders.
Lindo is survived by his wife Laetitia, son William and daughter Jan, and grandchildren Daniel, Miles, Anna, and Harrye.
Honorary Associate Professor Bruce Hadden CNZM (Department of Ophthalmology, University of Auckland) wrote this obituary.