Meeting – April 5th 2018

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 5 April 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. James Newman Lecture. ‘The ancient Egyptians:  their medications and other tales’                                                                                                                                 Presented by Mr Mike Willison
  2. ‘Fumigation in the history of resuscitation’  Presented by Dr Ron Trubuhovich 


  • 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 2 April 2018.  Cancellations with refund or credit of any payment made will be accepted by phone or email as above until noon on Weds 4 April 2018.  Please pay in advance of the evening so that we can pay our caterers before the event.

*Payment is not required if you are attending the presentations only.

Presenter – Mike Willison

Mike Willison was encouraged by David Cole and Derek North, and by his wife Alice (who is an ex-nurse) to join the Auckland Medical History Society many years ago when he was Secretary of the Remuera U3A.

For more than 30 years he was Chief Photographer of the NZ Woman’s Weekly, photographing New Zealanders, in colour, for the magazine.  In addition, he wrote interesting stories about some of those he photographed.

He photographed the Queen and the Royal family ten times in New Zealand and was flown to London to photograph the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1981.

Since retiring, he has taken copious colour photographs for numerous cookbooks and magazines and enjoyed tasting the proceeds which has added to his waistline!!


Open up a medicine chest and one finds a surfeit of stories. From ancient Egypt to the modern age, drugs have been developing apace.

The method of their discovery makes fascinating reading. Mike’s presentation will take us from the ancient popular poppy to helicobacter-pylori with digressions along the way to other interesting places.


Presenter – Ron Trubuhovich ONZM

BDS 1953, BMedSc(Pharmacology) 1960, MB ChB 1961, [all UNZ]

MSc[Med. Oxon] 1968, FFARCS[Eng]1966 (now FRCA), FFARACS 1982 (now FANZCA), FFICANZCA (1993 now) FFICMANZ 1908.

Ron was born in New Plymouth in March 1929 and came to Auckland 1937. He was educated St Peter’s College, Mountain Rd, Auckland and was dux in 1946 & 1947. After graduating as a dentist, he spent c.3yrs in dental practice in Pt Chevalier and later Huntly. Ron said, ‘his wonderful good fortune was to marry Dunedin nurse Elizabeth Coutts and they were blessed with 3 children.’ After his House Surgeon posts, he became an anaesthetic registrar at Dunedin Hospital between 1962-4 and was then awarded a Nuffield Dominion Scholarship to the Nuffield Dept of Anaesthetics at the Radcliff Infirmary Oxford, and became a postgraduate student at Pembroke College, Oxford. In 1968, after completing a Medical MSc in the Dept of Physiology in Oxford University he returned to NZ as Deputy Medical Officer-in-Charge to Dr Matt Spence’s Acute Respiratory Unit, Auckland Hospital, (it later became Dept of Critical Care Medicine – DCCM). He worked full time in Intensive/Critical Care Medicine until age-obliged retirement 1994 but continued in locum appointments in DCCM for another four years. The Joint Faculty of Intensive Care awarded him the Intensive Care Medal in 2007 and re-published a booklet of his papers to that date to its Journal. Ron then spent about a dozen years in the world-wide repatriation of insured and sick New Zealanders until he stopped on reaching the age of 80.

Ron was a Foundation member of ANZICS in 1974 and its President between 1991-3; and with James Judson, he wrote a short history of ‘Intensive care in NZ’ in 2001. Ron who was President of the AMHS between 2008-9, has written a number of papers on the medical history of his specialty, and 1979 was the editor of Internat. Anesthesiol. Clin. ‘Management of Acute Intracranial Disasters.’ He continues with his research and writing in medical history and has produced a monograph on NZ’s first Governor. Ron enjoys Beethoven and grand opera, especially Hi-Def MetOp films.



There was a time in Western Europe when the foremost procedure used in attempted resuscitation from apparent death – especially from drowning – was rectal insufflation of tobacco smoke. From Paris in 1740, the method had been promoted throughout France by René de Réaumur and Louis XV. In the nineteenth-century, evidence demonstrated the likely toxicity of nicotine and led to the abandonment of such usage. But the same mode of treatment had previously been employed after drowning by some American First Peoples of l’Acadie, Nouvelle France, in North America. From his own observations, Marin Dièreville documented the first report of this in 1708 and PFA de Charlevoix, SJ, related their practice to 1611.


This study has involved a wide range of written accounts including some relevant books by explorers in the New World. Newspaper reports and previous articles in medical journals have also been studied to try and detect the possible interaction between European practice and the New World use of such a rescue method.


Despite multi-language translations of Dièreville’s book, with Pierre de Charlevoix’s report following him similarly in 1744, European reference to these two sources would seem virtually absent. Following limited uptake of Réaumur’s Avis (advice), further European adoption of the fumigation method by the humane societies seems to owe much to the influence of Samuel Tissot’s Avis of 1761. But otherwise, word-of-mouth spread over several centuries of the American method still cannot be discounted.


In the history of resuscitation, the credibility of a widely attributed efficacy of the fumigation method during its time, must nowadays appear hard to rationalize or accept.  A seeming likelihood of adoption from North American Native practice has not been verified for the European uptake of Fumigation. Multiple other aspects of the history of Fumigation will be considered.