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December 2017

Message from the Dean

Kia ora

physio_Leigh Hale and Rhonda Wohemani 2017. cropped2017 has been a very busy and successful year for the staff and students at the School of Physiotherapy.

It was a pleasure to celebrate with our BPhty students who graduated on Saturday 9 December.

We wish you all the best for your futures and welcome you as Alumni of the School.

In 2017 we have been planning a refresh of our physiotherapy papers to have a more integrated and coherent approach to teaching the workforce for the future.

We look forward to the implementation of these changes in our 2nd year papers for 2018.

Our students have continued to excel and we have been delighted with the feedback we have been getting about our students success.

It has also been a busy research year.

We have held or been involved in the organisation of a number of conferences and events.

This has been a very successful year in achieving grant success and we look forward to the start of many of those projects in 2018.

Thank you to our Alumni for your continued support in 2017.

Wishing you a happy holiday season and all the best for 2018.

Leigh Hale, Physiotherapy Dean

Above: Leigh (right) with new Masters of Physiotherapy graduate Rhonda Wohemani from Papua New Guinea

Alumni stories


Geoff Anderson

Otago physiotherapist Geoff Anderson loves to win.

He credits his success at this year's Masters Games to sound pre-race conditioning.

Read more about Geoff and his physiotherapy career here.

physio_thumbnail.shannon hollard 2017Shannon Hollard

In her senior year at St Peters College in Palmerston North, one young student was asked to create her first ever CV.

After only a few seconds thought, Shannon Hollard jotted down the word 'healthcare'.

Shannon is now on her way to a fully fledged career in physiotherapy.

physio_peter gallagher alumni all black physio 2017Pete Gallagher

All Black's physiotherapist Pete Gallagher injured his hand as a teenager.

A physio's work to restore that hand kindled the curiosity that has taken him to the top.

Pete takes a holistic approach to all of his work with elite athletes.

Research news

Research highlight: Cardiopulmonary research

Dr Margot Skinner leads a team of graduate research students working in the area of Cardiopulmonary Research.

physio_CP Team 29 nov 17 cropped

Margot spent the majority of her time as a physiotherapist in clinical practice working in Intensive Care, and this invaluable experience now informs her research work.

We spoke with her recently about cardiopulmonary research at the School, and the impressive work of her team.

Daniel Ribeiro wins research fellowship

DanielRibeiroimageOur colleague at the School, Dr Daniel Ribeiro received the prestigious Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowship to advance his work on enhancing the use of non-surgical treatment for musculoskeletal disorders.

We talked with Daniel about his career as a physiotherapist, and his future research goals.

Other CHARR research news and events

  • Funding success: Congratulations to our undergraduate students who have been successful in receiving summer studentships. Tobias Hoeta (HRC Māori Summer studentship), Louise Jansen (HRC Pacific Summer studentship), Ben Browning and Megan Webb (both recipients of Health Division Summer studentships). CHARR staff members have also been successful in receiving funds from the University of Otago Research Grant round, Jack Thompson Arthritis Fund, Physiotherapy New Zealand fund.
  • CHARR events: Over the last few months CHARR has hosted a number of events including a Postgraduate Research Symposium, 8th New Zealand/Aotearoa Mobilities Symposium - Pavements and paradigms: bringing community back into mobilities, Research Impact Conference “Realising the Potential”. Staff have also played a large role in the Southern Symposium, Rehabilitation Conference,and the Disabilities Conference.

If you would like any further information about any of our research please contact:

Student stories

physio_Award recipient Bridget Watson speaks at the Staff Club function. otago665489

The secret of living is giving, says recent School of Physiotherapy graduate Bridget Watson.

Bridget was one of 18 students to receive a University of Otago Student Leadership Award (UOSLA) recently.

History notes

The University of Otago School of Physiotherapy was established in 1913, making us one of the very first specialised physiotherapy schools in the world.

physio_thumbnail. book cover. in our hands 2017As author Louise Shaw explains in her history of physiotherapy in Otago, the profession 'developed in the early 1900s by combining three distinct areas of therapy: massage, physical agents (especially electricity, light and water) and medical gymnastics'.

Order your copy of 'In our hands - 100 years of the School of Physiotherapy at Otago 1913-2013' from us:

As we approach commemorations of 150 years at the University of Otago we salute all past, present and future students and staff at the School of Physiotherapy at Otago.

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

Class of 1993

The very first BPhty graduates from the University of Otago School of Physiotherapy plan to celebrate that landmark achievement later in 2018.

Were you a graduate in 1993 or do you have a friend or colleague who was?

If so we would love you to drop us a line. If you have photographs, and can tell your story please email:

You can read about next years planned University of Otago commemorations and celebrations here.

There is more about the School of Massage on Dr Ali Clarke's excellent history blog.

Click here to visit our online exhibition and meet some key figures from our past.

Keep in touch

As University of Otago and School of Physiotherapy alumni – you belong to a rich and diverse world wide community. Stay in touch and 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 get in touch with 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: or Freephone 0800 OU PHTY (0800 68 7489) (within New Zealand)

We would love to hear from you.

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