Meeting – June 7 2018

Meetings of the Society
Meetings of the Society
Auckland Medical History Society





The next meeting of the Auckland Medical History Society will be held in the Ernest and Marion Davis Library at Auckland City Hospital on

Thursday 7 June 2018

The evening will be as follows:

  • 6.00pm: Refreshments will be served in the Ernest and Marion Davis Library
  • 6.30pm: Buffet Dinner will be served in the dining room
  • 7.30pm: Guest presentations*



  1. Founders’ Lecture. ‘The Ernest and Marion Davis Library:  an interesting History’  Presented by Dr Jon Simcock
  2. ‘Practice makes perfect – what my patients taught me’  Presented by Dr Alex Biland 


  • Members: $32
  • Non-members and guests: $40
  • Students with ID: $18
  • Glass of wine: $5
  • Bottle of wine: $20
  • Table water and juice are complimentary.

Please pay for your dinner and wine vouchers in advance, then collect the vouchers with your name badge on the night of the dinner.


  • Send the names of attendees to with confirmation that you have made payment to the Auckland Medical History Society account: 02 0160 0237509 00 via the internet, or cheque (made out to the Auckland Medical History Society) and sent toE Holst, AMHS Treasurer, PO Box 482, Orewa 0946  for dinner +/- wine vouchers.
  • If no e-mail access call Diane on 0274 305 326 with the names of attendees, method of payment and your phone number.
  • Final booking time, and cancellations: Please provide your booking details by midday on Mon 4 June 2018.
  • *Payment is not required if you are attending the presentations only.

Presenter –  Jon Simcock

I attended Otago University from 1954, graduating B Med Sc in Neurophysiology in 1958 and completed the medical course in 1960, the final year being at Auckland Hospital.  I was employed by the Auckland Hospital Board as a house surgeon (1961-2) and registrar (1963-4), passing the MRACP examination in 1964 with the major benefit of the Marion Davis Library.  I then continued training in neurology in London, gaining the MRCP(London) in 1965 and working at St George’s Hospital and the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases (Queen Square).

I returned to Auckland as full-time neurologist in 1968 and also provided a neurological service for both Northland and Taranaki, gradually reducing these commitments as other neurologists were appointed in Auckland. In 1971 I started 1/10 in private practice, retiring from Auckland Hospital in 2002 and from private practice in 2015.

I joined the Committee of Management of the Marion Davis Library in 1974 and became Chairman in 2004, following on from Kaye Ibbertson and in 2004 and passing the baton to Neil Anderson in 2015.


In 1961 Sir Ernest Davis generously donated a modern up-to-date medical library to the Auckland Hospital Board in memory of his wife, Marion, for the use of doctors, dentists and veterinarians of Auckland. For the next decade, this was the main medical library in Auckland, servicing all of the Auckland hospitals. The library of the School of Medicine expanded during the 1970s and in 1980, the medical libraries were amalgamated to form a new (Philson) library. The Ernest and Marion Davis Library became a medical history library and postgraduate medical centre. Extensive renovations in 1980 included the provision of the downstairs lecture theatre, offices and dining facilities. By 2004 it was evident that the function of the building was inconsistent with the 1961 Trust Deed. After prolonged negotiations and planning, all parties agreed to extensive renovations, with this splendid building re-opening in April 2015 and named the Ernest and Marion Davis Library and Lecture Halls.

Presenter – Alex Biland

B.Sc physics Univ.NZ (Auckland College) M.B Ch.B Univ. Otago FRNZCG

Alex’s family is from Switzerland.  About 1929 after his parents emigrated from Switzerland Alex was conceived in NZ and then born 1931 in Basel Switzerland.  He was his mother’s first child and she was told by family that she had to return to Switzerland to deliver as there were no proper midwives in NZ.  Some years later during World War 11 we learned that some Kiwis had escaped from a POW camp in Northern Italy to become refugees. Then on foot they were able to move North unseen to the Alps and enter neutral Switzerland where they were allowed in as Refugees. It was there that by chance one older Kiwi became bonded with Alex’s paternal Grandfather in Zurich who looked after him. On return to NZ after the war this well-known Kiwi became Alex’s adopted Grandfather in Kiwiland who represented the real Grandfather on the other side of the world!

After completing secondary school Alex was unable to decide what to do so he chose to begin study for a B.Sc  degree  at  what  was  then  Auckland  University  College  where  he  majored  in  physics .  In the final year he was in the laboratory learning from (?) Millichan’s experiment in a cloud chamber to measure speed and collision angles to calculate electron mass.  He achieved the correct answer but could not understand how the experiment could do this!  It was then that Alex decided that he did not want to do this for the rest of his life and decided to jump ship and study medicine. The move from the precise thinking of physics and mathematics to the “woolly” thinking of medicine was a huge change for him.  However, he survived and graduated in medicine in 1957. He then searched for post graduate programmes in GP medicine but this was not possible, so he moved to Edinburgh to do the three month course in internal medicine without graduating. In 1961 he was able to take over a solo GP practice in Te Kauwhata which had been abandoned.  It was there that he purchased an ECG machine (with valves !).  During a routine practice review by a UKGP member Alex showed him the machine and he responded by saying: “God Help Me” !

In 1971 Alex moved to Hamilton to establish with three colleagues one of the first group practices in NZ.  In 1994 he retired from general practice to part -time roles in addiction medicine, first with the Salvation Army Bridge Programme and then with CADS on Auckland’s North Shore. In 2008 Alex fully retired to join the Board of Age Concern North Shore where he remains as a retired Chair person.


This presentation entitled   “ Practice  makes  Perfect  what  my  Patients  taught  me “ will  be  entirely  verbal. The topics are mainly brief and either serious or humerus.  Thankyou everybody!