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Biographical entry Tresize, Wilmot John (1915 - 1993)

OstJ 1965; MRCS and FRCS 1951; BSc 1938; MB ChB Otago 1944; FRACS 1949.

10 October 1915
Christchurch, New Zealand
28 September 1993
General surgeon


Wilmot John Tresize was born on 10 October 1915 in Christchurch, New Zealand, the son of Alfred Joseph Tresize, a carpenter, and his wife Eileen Gladys Cole, née King. He was educated at West Christchurch District High School, which he represented in the First XI at cricket. He matriculated at 15 and worked in a pharmacy while studying part-time at Canterbury College, qualifying in 1937 and taking a BSc degree in 1938. He then entered the medical school at Otago University from which he graduated in 1944. He subsequently spent time as lecturer in anatomy and physiology at Otago, to which he later returned to teach pathology. He was for a time house surgeon and surgical registrar in Wellington and then spent a year in general practice. In 1949 he obtained the Fellowship of the Australasian College of Surgeons, went to England in 1950 and obtained the FRCS in 1951.

On his return to New Zealand he was appointed acting medical superintendant at the Waipukurai Hospital and, in 1956, he became their surgeon superintendant, a post he held until 1978 when he became the first medical superintendant at Kenepura Hospital. This had been a small maternity hospital, but was being developed as a full general hospital to serve the increasing local population, and he remained there until his retirement in 1982.

Wilmot Tresize believed strongly in a free public health system and devoted himself full time to surgery and administration, undertaking no private practice. He was a meticulous surgeon and an excellent administrator, working long hours and overseeing great improvements in Wanganui Hospital which had been very run-down when he took over.

Outside his hospital work he was a major in the Territorial Army Medical Corps and, for several years, medical officer of the Wellington West Coast and Taranaki Regiment. He was an active member of the Anglican Church, of the St John Ambulance Association and the Rotary Club. He married Kathleen Vonne Pickles ('Vonne'), a nurse, on 2 March 1943 and they had a daughter, Jocelyn, and three sons, John, Bruce and Henry, the youngest of whom became a professional musician in London. Wilmot Tresize died on 28 September 1993.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Evening Post, Wellington, 29 September1993; The Wellington Chronicle; NZ Med J 1993 106 532].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England