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August / Here-turi-kōkā 2018

Message from the Dean

physio_thumbnail. Leigh Hale  2017Kia ora and welcome to the latest issue of our newsletter.

I would like to start off by acknowledging the retirement of Trish Didham, our School's Operations Manager for the last 20 plus years. Trish has been an integral part of the School and has played a significant role in the strong position we are in today. I would like to personally thank Trish for her support of the School and the Physiotherapy profession and wish her all the best for her future.

We are very excited about the upcoming PNZ conference, being held in Dunedin on the 14 -16 September this year, and we would love to see you there. The School will be holding an Alumni Breakfast on the morning of Sunday 16th September. The School will also be open following the end of the conference (from 1-3pm) for anyone who would like to take a tour of our School.

Follow this link to find out more, and to register for our Alumni breakfast

We will also have a stand at the conference and look forward to chatting with you more.

It continues to be a busy and productive year for our School's research centre, CHARR. We are delighted to have a number of our PhD candidates submit, and especially proud of our two August graduating PhDs' Mandeep Kaur and Ricky Bell.

Leigh Hale, Dean, School of Physiotherapy

Meet our staff

Trish Didham

Trish DidhamMany of you will know our Operations Manager Trish Didham, who retired from the School of Physiotherapy recently.

Trish first starting working at the School in the early 1990s when it operated from the Otago Polytechnic, and the conjoint degree programme had just started. At the time her children were still at school, and her husband was a busy teacher, who also coordinated the Fire Service on the Otago Peninsula.

Here, Dr Margot Skinner tells us more about the major contribution that Trish has made to the School's success


For many students at the School of Physiotherapy, the fourth year means that clinical experience gained from earlier study gets put into 'real world' practice. Each year, around one hundred and thirty aspiring physios complete four clinical papers and one research paper while working at a 'Hub' somewhere in New Zealand.

Read more about how our Hubs give back to our communities here

Student stories

Sarah Martin

In the 1990s' many dairy farming families in search of productive and affordable land moved their entire farming operations from New Zealand's North Island to the more challenging geography of Southland.

A young Sarah Martin arrived with her family to a dairy conversion block near Wyndham.

She is now an Honours candidate at the School of Physiotherapy at Otago.

Sarah tells us how she balances life and higher level study here

Ciaran Mahood

physio_Ciaran Mahood head and shoulders 2018Ciaran Mahood tells us that one big challenge of higher level study in physiotherapy was - getting started.

Because the achievement of physiotherapy Honours seemed a distant end goal, he made an early decision to break studies down into a series of smaller and more manageable component parts.

Read about Ciaran's research work into evidence-based practice

A huge round of applause for recent School graduate Kelsi Parker. Her rowing crew took gold, in a strong display at the recent World Rowing Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Research news

Prasath JayakaranResearch highlight: Balance and vestibular research

Dr Prasath Jayakaran is the lead researcher for balance and vesitbular research at the School.

He talks to us here about his interests and aspirations as a researcher in the area of rehabilitation of balance and motor control in people with disability

PhD Alumni: Dr Osman Ahmed

physio_student OsmanWide 2018Dr Osman Ahmed completed his Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Physiotherapy and then returned to completed his PhD on concussion and sport.

We spoke with Osman about his time at Otago (and more) and you can read that interview here

Other research news and events

  • Come say 'hi' and find out more about CHARR research, at the PNZ conference.

Read more about how and where to find us at the conference in Dunedin

  • HRC project grant awarded: Big congrats to the team on the award of the project “Co-creating a digital self-help intervention for people with persistent pain”

This project grant is the result of excellent team work and collaboration. Special congratulations to Leigh Hale, Meredith Perry and Hemakumar Devan.

The full team is: Leigh Hale, Ted Shipton, Tony Dowell, Hemakumar Devan, Meredith Perry, Rebecca Grainger, William Leung, Andrew Gray, Tristram Ingham (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou), Bernadette Jones (Ngā Wairiki, Ngāti Apa), Dagmar Hempel (CCDHB), Barbara Saipe (CCDHB).

  • Congratulations to Dr Daniel Ribeiro who was awarded a University of Otago Early Career Award for Distinction in Research.
  • We also welcome our new PhD candidate, Hui Xiao.

physio_ricky bell dave baxter mandeep kaur graduates 2018

Two PhD candidates, Ricky Bell and Mandeep Kaur (pictured here with Professor David Baxter) graduated on the 18th of August. We warmly congratulate them on their achievement.

Alumni stories

Helen Littleworth

physio_helen littleworth stretches. 2018Otago graduate Helen Littleworth tells us that effective communication is at the heart of good diagnostics.

Better targeted interventions help sports physiotherapists to build trust with their patients.

Helen is one of New Zealand's leading sports physiotherapists and you can read her unique story here

Katrina Pōtiki Bryant

physio_katrina potiki bryant 2018 croppedKatrina Anne Pōtiki Bryant was born in Dunedin and studied at St Hilda's Collegiate and the School of Physiotherapy at Otago.

She believes that to be most effective, services which engage indigenous people must be authentic. There also needs to be a change in the conversation from 'how do we get Māori in the door' to 'how do we provide services which are more relevant for Māori?”

Read about Katrina and her groundbreaking work with Māori and Pacifica communities here

History notes

Physio Class of '55

"Graduates from the New Zealand School of Physiotherapy Class of 1955, have, since 1985 – with husbands (no males graduated in 1955) - regularly gathered for fun reunions up and down the country; at first at ten then five-year intervals, but two to three each year in more recent times. The fact is, we are now all climbing through our 80 years of age. We have considered our Class a “robust” lot health and activity-wise, but this year the numbers to attend September 25, 26, 27 this year in Havelock North, are sadly down; no Australian or U.S.A. participants this time. Yet, we never cease to reminisce those Physio student days"

Contact Jo Lewis at if you have not registered, and would like to join events in late September this year.

We, at the School today, wish them well for a great time together.

physio_150 years image call to action image. 650

150 years at Otago

In 2019 the University of Otago will celebrate 150 years of heritage, tradition and its ongoing international reputation for excellence. As School of Physiotherapy and Otago alumni you are warmly invited to join us during our Queen's Birthday Weekend Celebrations (31 May – 3 June) or for one of the many events planned for 2019.

Open your invitation to the celebrations here


Margaret Moon (née Davis)

Many colleagues and friends will remember physiotherapist Margaret Moon for her strength of character and for her outstanding work in mental health and pain treatment.

Margaret graduated from the New Zealand School of Physiotherapy in 1952 and spent most of her working life in Christchurch.

She was the first physiotherapist to work in the psycho-geriatric wards at Sunnyside Hospital, offering what were then standard physiotherapy treatments for older patients — Margaret helped them to maintain mobility, and dealt with pain issues and rehabilitation after incidents such as strokes and fractures.

Read more about Margaret's pioneering work here

Keep in touch

As University of Otago and School of Physiotherapy alumni – you belong to a rich and diverse world wide community.

Stay connected to continue a rewarding relationship with your University, your fellow Otago alumni and the School.

If you are planning an event or organising a class reunion, do contact us. We can offer help, and encouragement with logistics and planning.

If you have any suggestions for stories, or know of inspirational Physio alumni you might like to read more about, please email us here or Freephone 0800 OU PHTY (0800 68 7489 - within New Zealand)

If you would like to receive this and other information for alumni ensure your contact details are up to date by contacting the alumni office here.

You can now follow the School of Physiotherapy on Twitter here: @physiOtago

Please do keep in touch.


Lawrence, R. (2005). Branding terroir in the ′New World′: Modes of representation in the wine industry. In P. Sorrell, C. Ozcan, E. Kocabiyik & Z. T. Ultav (Eds.), Proceedings of the IST Product and Service Design Symposium and Exhibition on Agricultural Industries. Izmir, Turkey: Izmir University of Economics. [Full Paper]

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