Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

Surgery is a medical speciality which epitomises the radical changes and challenges which have occurred in medicine during the past century. It is a discipline which confronts its practitioners with the raw realities of disease and pain.

For nearly half a century, the Department of Surgery has been at the core of the University of Otago, Christchurch (previously the Christchurch School of Medicine), challenging students and clinicians with unique and very human demands.

Surgery continues to be a constantly changing field, with technological and surgical advances remoulding practices and attitudes, but Bill MacBeth's spirit of inquiry, launched with the start of the Department of Surgery in 1972, burns as bright as ever.

Timeline of the Department of Surgery


George Rolleston and the establishment team confronted the challenges of forming the Christchurch School of Medicine

The school's first Professor of Surgery, Bill MacBeth, was appointed. He encouraged the growth of specialities and provided a range of research facilities. Bill MacBeth was a master clinician who willingly shared his experience with others, and a personality never reluctant to voice his opinions!


The first 4th year class had a roll of just 44 students. But, no class has arguably given so many consultants to the Canterbury region


The Department became the first in Australasia to develop a university post in the speciality of Emergency Medicine


Phil Bagshaw became the Head of Department


Justin Roake (4th Year in 1979) became Professor of Surgery and took over from Phil Bagshaw as Head of Department


Frank Frizelle became New Zealand's first Professor of Colon and Rectal Surgery

Spencer Beasley became the South Island's first specialist Paediatric Surgeon


Michael Ardagh became New Zealand's first Professor of Emergency Medicine


Frank Frizelle took over from Justin Roake as Head of Department


Phil Bagshaw retired at the end of 2010 but continues to be involved in undergraduate teaching through the Charity Hospital

2019 Tim Eglinton took over from Frank Frizelle as Head of Department
Back to top