Obituary Sir Patrick Eisdell Moore

Mon, 31 Aug 2015

Sir Patrick William Eisdell Moore Kt., OBE, MB. ChB, DLO (Eng), FRCS, FRACS
Otolaryngologist, Head and Neck Surgeon Born 17 March 1918 - Died 18 June 2015    


Patrick Moore was born in Bristol on 17 March 1918.  His father was Arthur Eisdell Moore ("Eisdell") who was in England on a post-War surgical appointment and his mother, Alice, a nurse from Yorkshire, whom he had met in 1915 when serving as a field surgeon with the RAMC on the Western Front. Patrick was the first child of three; two sons and a daughter, and although christened William Ernest Moore, the infant had been nicknamed "Pat" while still in utero in anticipation he (or she) would be born on St Patrick's Day.  The name stuck when that prediction proved correct. It was not until he reached the age of 21 that by deed pole he formalised his adopted name and changed Ernest to Eisdell.   

After the war Eisdell returned to New Zealand with his new family and set up consulting rooms as a general surgeon in Symonds Street.  This was where Pat's lifelong interest in and love for horses was first kindled.  He was fascinated by the variety of draught horses operated by the local merchants who lived in the neighbourhood.  It was also a time when the first stirrings of artistic talent took form as he drew and sketched on any blank or receptive surface, often to the chagrin of his parents.   

Pat commenced his secondary education at Auckland Grammar as an 11-year old.  While his love of literature and the classics led him to top the country in English in his matriculation year, he struggled with mathematics.  After a year at Auckland University College, Pat continued his studies at Otago University, where for his first four years in Dunedin Pat was a resident at Selwyn College, assuming the presidency in the last of these years.  As a medical student he played on the wing of the university senior rugby team.  He supplemented his meagre student allowance by selling his sketches, cartoons, caricatures, short stories and poems to various publications, including Punch.  At student parties his musical talents as a pianist were in great demand, although he did occasionally lament his popularity on the keys by reason of the restrictions it necessarily imposed on his ability to socialise more widely.   

After leaving Selwyn College, Pat moved to a boarding house in Cargill Street where he met fellow resident Beth Beedie, a final year physiotherapy student from a medical family in Dannevirke.  After qualifying she was posted to Hawke's Bay and Pat moved to Auckland for his final year of medical studies. Their courtship flourished, albeit remotely.   

Pat graduated in 1943, and he and Beth married commencing life together in a small flat near Auckland Hospital, where Pat worked as a house surgeon to obtain full registration and thus eligibility to re-enlist in the army.  As a medical student he had been commissioned in the Otago University Medical Corps and in his final year worked as a resident army medical officer in the Auckland region.  After obtaining full registration he wasted no time in enlisting with the 2nd NZEF and was posted overseas, leaving Beth and their infant son, Anthony.   

Once overseas he single-mindedly set about joining the 28th (Maori) Battalion with whom he served throughout the Italian campaign rising to the rank of Captain.  Tall, freckled and red-haired he was the only Pakeha in the Battalion.  Culturally immersed, he became fluent in Te Reo and Tikanga Maori making lifelong friendships with his comrades and developing a sophisticated understanding, even at that early time, of how a bi-cultural New Zealand should look.  He actively applied those principles of bi-culturalism throughout the rest of his life.  

During the Battle of Faenza he was badly wounded.  His right arm was saved from amputation at considerable risk to his life, only because the surgeon was aware of Pat's surgical ambitions. On leaving the Battalion at the cessation of hostilities, he was farewelled by the Commanding Officer with the words: "You were not the most academic takuta (doctor) we had.  You may not necessarily have been the most brave, but you were, definitely, the most Maori." He was subsequently made Patron and a life member of the 28th Battalion, a recognition which meant the world to him.   

In 1946 he returned to Auckland Hospital.  A three month rotation in eye and ENT surgery kindled an interest which, in 1947, led him to become an eye and ENT registrar.  During this year he was greatly influenced by the country's foremost ENT consultant James Hardie Neil and Pat decided on a career in ENT.   

In 1948 after a year working as an anatomy demonstrator in Dunedin, Pat with Beth, and by this time two sons, sailed to London where he spent two years working and demonstrating at the Middlesex, training at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital in Grey's Inn and studying at the College of Surgeons.  He passed his primary and, at his first attempt, his English fellowship examination and subsequently the DLO.  He then obtained a very busy ENT registrar post in Northampton for two years under ex-patriot Australian Charles Gledhill.   

In 1952 Pat and the family returned to Auckland where he set up rooms as an ENT consultant in Symonds Street and the family was expanded by the addition of two more sons.  Pat was appointed junior ENT surgeon at the recently opened department at Greenlane Hospital.  He rapidly rose to head of department.  Under his leadership and innovation, the department grew quickly.  Facilities expanded as did the number of staff, to include a team of GPs and specialists in related disciplines including allergy, oral surgery and voice therapy.  He pioneered the use of micro surgery in New Zealand, encouraged the innovative use of homografts and was the first in the world to transplant appropriately prepared and sterilised tympanic membranes, initially in animals and later in human beings.  Building on this research he established the Deafness Research Foundation in 1962, an organisation specifically created to assist clinicians undertaking research into hearing and deafness-related problems.   

His continuing engagement with Maori led him to make regular voluntary visits between 1965 and 1977 to the East Coast of the North Island where ear disease and resulting hearing loss was endemic, particularly amongst children.  Through his energies he sourced sophisticated surgical equipment and instructed local doctors and nurses in its use.  These efforts were rewarded by a remarkable reduction in the incidence of ear disease on the East Coast.  Encouraged by these results and conscious of the common and understandable reluctance on the part of many parents to take their children to hospital, Pat's natural flair for innovation led him to raise funds for the development of mobile ear clinics which took clinical services into the community under the banner of the Deafness Research Foundation.  Following success from this initiative in Northland it was adopted in Auckland and then, through the generosity of the Variety Club, a fleet of mobile ear clinics allowed similar services to be extended to many other regions.  

Pat also encouraged research into the pharmacological treatment of tinnitus, the inclusion of ear and hearing problems in the Dunedin multi-disciplinary study and he investigated the effects of hearing loss on prison inmates.  He led the first ENT teaching programme in the Auckland Medical School and supported the establishment of a dedicated tertiary degree course for the training of audiologists.   

As President of the then Otolaryngological Society of New Zealand, Pat organised the first joint conference with the Australian society with in excess of 100 attendees from either side of the Tasman.  This inaugural meeting was New Zealand's first ENT international conference.  

By the mid-1970s Pat appreciated that hearing research was moving its focus from the external and middle ear to the inner ear.  At the same time he realised the activities of the Deafness Research Foundation required a higher and more sustained level of scientific input and engaged a post-graduate scientist, Peter Thorne, to build a research team.  Pat also monitored the evolution of cochlear implants and once a multi-channel device had been perfected, persuaded benefactors to support the introduction of a cochlear implant programme in New Zealand; initially for adults and later for children.  He was quick to acknowledge the need for specialist auditory verbal training for implanted children and persuaded philanthropists and friends to support the establishment of the now highly successful Hearing House.   

Pat's interests were not simply limited to deafness and hearing.  He served on the Council of Auckland University, helped establish Riding for the Disabled and the Coeliac Society.  He was Master of the Pakuranga Hunt for nine years and President and Emeritus Member of the New Zealand Hunts Association.   

His mastery of prose, verse and sketching has left an enduring literacy and pictorial record in the annals of the many institutions with which he has been involved.  Perhaps the best known is his brilliant water colour caricature; a montage of the 1940 professors of the Otago Medical School.  This remarkable drawing, which has been reproduced in numerous publications, now hangs outside the Dean's office. In 2004 his autobiography was published.  The title, "So Old So Quick", was coined from a quote by Ogden Nash and the book's flowing literacy style, humour and self deprecation earned it universally positive reviews.   

Pat's vision, enthusiasm and selfless contribution to medicine and the wider community was recognised by the Queen in the 1982 Royal Honours with the award of on OBE and in 1992 he was Knighted for his services to medicine and the community. Auckland Grammar honoured him in 2005 with an Augusta Fellowship as a distinguished old boy.  In 2007 Selwyn College elected him an Honorary Fellow.  

Pat's funeral in a packed St Mary's-in-Trinity, was a moving and evocative tribute to an extraordinary New Zealander.  His plain coffin, draped in a New Zealand flag, was adorned by a magnificent korowai (feathered clock) woven by the widows of the Battalion, in its colours of red, black and white.  To the haunting strains of a karanga (call of welcome) he was carried in by representatives of the Battalion, various iwi and representatives of longstanding friends.  At the end of the service a rousing haka performed by the Auckland Grammar kapa haka group paid a final farewell.  

Sir Patrick is survived by his beloved wife Beth, their four sons, Anthony (a pathologist practising in Australia), Tim (a radiologist practising in North America), Simon (a High Court Judge), Chris (a leading commercial property lawyer) and by 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.    


This obituary was compiled by his colleague Ron Goodey FRACS and sons Simon and Chris                     

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