The first Māori woman to become a registered doctor

Rina Moore made history in the medical field in 1949 after graduating MB, ChB and becoming the first female Māori doctor.

Of Ngati Kahungunu, Rangitane, and Te Whanau-a-Apanui iwi, and born Rina Winifred Rohipa, her parents installed a strong work ethic and ensured their children had the best educational opportunities available to them.

Moore began studying medicine at Otago University in 1941.

She married in 1944, and the couple welcomed their first child the following year. Despite their daughter’s birth, Moore continued her studies.

Her first post-graduation job as an assistant medical officer at Ngawhatu Mental Hospital, Nelson.

Her biography in the Dictionary of New Zealand states: “Her interest in psychiatry began during a class visit to Seacliffe Mental Hospital where she instinctively reached out to a patient who had committed murder.

“Her ability to recognise the essential humanity in each person, and to connect with it, particularly if the person was in trouble, was central to her work. She had great compassion for the sick and handicapped, and a special gift for helping those who were unable to help themselves.”

Moore’s father, Tipi Tainui Rohipa was also a trailblazer for Māori, becoming the first Māori to be appointed under-secretary of the Department of Māori Affairs. Her mother, Winifred Turuki Walker was also a highly respected nurse.

Source: NZ Herald as part of their trailblazers series


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