Neil Woodhams(School, 1959 - 63) OC of the Month - July 2021
Thursday, July 22
Our OC of the Month for July 2021 is Neil Woodhams (School, 1959-63) who was recently named in the June 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List as a recipient of an Officer of New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for his services to people with Multiple Sclerosis.
Neil has had a long career working at senior management level in the healthcare sector including roles as Senior Executive of the Midland RHA and Chief Operating Officer of Auckland DHB.
In the late 1990’s Neil’s wife Erin was diagnosed with MS and then a little later one of their sons was also diagnosed with MS. At the time of Erin’s diagnosis there was little information, drugs, or MS services available. The impact that MS has had on Neil’s family led him to becoming a passionate advocate for those living with MS.
The work and time that Neil has dedicated to MSNZ has seen significant changes made to the improvement of the health and quality of life outcomes for those New Zealanders living with MS.
I was at Kings from 1959 to 1963. I then went to Victoria University studying accounting. Initially I worked in the finance industry for the Marac group for 14 years as a manager in the domestic lending side of the business. Much later I spent the latter part of my career in senior roles in the health sector.
The friendships of the people met many of which still exists today.
Lyn Saunders who taught me French for three years and who I still thank every time I go to France and use my very poor French to get around. The other over riding figure was of course Greenbank, but I never understood Taranaki gates and his unique teaching of maths which I have regretted in the years since.
Have a go at everything. You may never get another chance.
I am now semi-retired. I am the full-time carer for my wife Erin who has MS and has been in a wheelchair to nearly 20 years. In addition, I am President for Multiple Sclerosis NZ and an active trustee of their Research Trust.
I have been involved for the last 16 years in a Treaty Claim with three groups of Maori primary care providers which alleges the Crown breached the Treaty when it introduced the Primary Care strategy in 2002. We had a very successful hearing in 2018 before the Waitangi Tribunal and I have been chairing a committee of experts who have been finding ways to address the shortcomings of the strategy. I am also a trustee of the Fono Trust, the largest Pacific Island health and social services trust in New Zealand.
Currently my carer role is my full-time job and one I am unlikely to able to retire from! The others are governance roles where I try and use my many years of experience in running small and large organisations to mentor and encourage people in these organisations to be the best.
Letting go and finding time for relaxation and family
I would not want to single any one out. I hope that my work with both Multiple Sclerosis and in the wider health arena has made life easier and better for many people.
Michael King’s biography of Princess Te Puia.
My no. 8 iron and a bag of golf balls.
My fishing rod.
Someone who has made a difference.