Obituary Olly Seeley

Mon, 17 Mar 2014

Dr. (Mr.) Alwyn James Seeley b. May 13th 1925, d. May 24th 2013 M.B., Ch.B. (NZ) 1950, F.R.C.S. Eng 1954, F.R.A.C.S. ca.1988 (see photo attached)

Born Pukekohe 13 May 1925 6th child and 4th son born to Robert and Edith Seeley. His parents migrated to South Africa from Ulster. Robert served in the South African Police Force for the next 22 years until he migrated with his wife and first 5 children to New Zealand. He purchased land at Pukekohe and began farming. Alwyn was the only child born in New Zealand.

Alwyn Seeley, matriculated at the Pukekohe High School 1941, and under war time Emergency Regulation was directed in 1942 to work for a year on the family farm. His three older brothers were serving overseas. His eldest brother returned on furlough from the army and released Alwyn from his farm work enabling him in 1943 to enroll at the Auckland University College
Originally enrolled for the Agricultural Intermediate examination; early in the year he elected to change to the Medical Intermediate course. Chemistry, and at that time Latin, were required subjects. Neither had been included in the Pukekohe High School curriculum. Intensive extramural study of both subjects enabled Alwyn to pass the examination and take his place in second year at the Otago University Medical School in 1945. He qualified in 1950. Alwyn Seeley was then appointed a Junior House Surgeon to the Wellington Hospital. He completed another two years as a Senior House Surgeon and then applied for and was appointed Junior Surgical Registrar to the Department of Ear Nose and Throat Surgery with Senior Surgeons Messrs Elliott, Diamond and Duncan.

Alwyn throughout his professional and sporting career was always called Olly by his close friends and colleagues.

He married Margaret Mayo (from Wellington) who had been a Physiotherapy student with him at Otago University. After marriage during his Senior House Surgeon year in 1952 they to travelled to England in 1954 as passengers aboard the R.M.S. Rangitiki. He took the Edinburgh Primary examination, and following further training he qualified F.R.C.S. England in 1954.

Following postgraduate training at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh and the Royal National Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital, Grays Inn Road, London; and the birth of their eldest son Michael the family returned to Wellington in 1957. Olly with his family this time was able to obtain passage as the ship's doctor. The family returned to New Zealand where he gained appointment as a second part time surgeon joining Roland Phillips Turner in the Department of Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery at the Waikato Hospital. This was to be a busy post in this rapidly expanding increasingly urbanized farming area. The appointment committed him to outpatient and operating sessions; and together with senior colleague Roland Phillips Turner responsibility for the emergency admissions from the Waikato and King country together with the more complicated cases from the area between the Bay of Plenty and the East Cape.
He appreciated that many cases of deafness appearing in his practice were suitable for treatment and cure of their deafness with the new operation of Stapedectomy, introduced by Shea (Memphis) in 1957. In 1960 he attended a month long course at the House Clinic in Los Angeles in order to learn and develop the technique. He returned to New Zealand with the Instruments. He imported a Zeiss operating microscope from Germany and began to perform this (then revolutionary) operation. In most cases he restored normal and long term hearing. An operating microscope and instruments were soon purchased for the Waikato Hospital and Olly continued to perform microsurgery there as well; alone, until joined by Malcolm Dunshea in 1964. In 1965 he returned to the House clinic and visited John Shea in Memphis, Tennessee for a refresher course. Roland Phillips-Turner retired from the Waikato Hospital in 1965.

Olly Seeley was secretary of the New Zealand Society of Otolaryngology in 1969 and President of the Society in 1979. His main interest had been directed to Otology but he remained a busy and enquiring General Otolaryngologist until he retired. He was elected F.R.A.C.S in 1988 in recognition of his services to Otology.

A supremely talented sportsman, he was awarded a University of New Zealand "Blue" for Rugby at Auckland University College, and a University of New Zealand "Blue" for tennis when at Otago University. He continued to play tennis and squash until midlife. He played golf intermittently and socially in the early years, later increased application saw his handicap reduce to near single figures.

He was an early pioneer in the conservation and development of Hamilton City's extensive gully system. Earlier in the 20th century councils responsible for urbanization of the river bank and adjacent land for urban development had seen the gullies as useful additions for building sites after a ‘fill, drain and cover' program. Seventy or more years ago their matured appreciation of the ecological value of these gullies in preserving areas for the retention of the region's flora and fauna within the city; allowing for the retention of proven and effective drainage alternatives to the river. Olly Seeley was one of the first private land owners to develop such a gully system on two hectares adjacent to his inner city property. In fifty years he planted the area with a large and diverse representative collection of New Zealand native bush and swamp trees.
Olly Seeley donated this splendid area to the city; since named by the Council "Seeley's Gully". During his last ten years he advised and helped with a Waikato District Council project to replant the Wainui reserve a very large forestry block south of Raglan suitable for regeneration.
Olly and Margaret are survived by their four children. Michael (Secondary School Teacher), Christopher (E.N.T., Head & Neck Surgeon), Jane (General Medical Practitioner) and Rachael (Recreation and Sports Co-ordinator). All are university graduates and have children.