Dr Peter Huggard became the Deputy Director of the Goodfellow Unit in the mid-2000s, and then the Director in December 2008. Peter initially trained as a clinical chemist at Victoria University of Wellington. He then worked part-time in a sexual health clinic, as a volunteer with the St John Ambulance Service, and in Hutt Hospital from 1968 to 1980. Peter had spent one year working in a children’s hospital in Toronto in the mid-1970s and returned to Toronto in 1980 when he was appointed as the chief technician of the hospital. He moved back to New Zealand five years later for a position managing laboratories in the National Women’s Hospital in Greenlane, Auckland. In 1992, Peter completed a Master of Public Health followed by a Master of Counselling. He completed his Doctor of Education on the emotional impact of medical work on young hospital-based doctors in 2009.
Peter became involved with the Goodfellow Unit in 2002 when was appointed to manage the postgraduate programmes within the Department of General Practice. He also taught postgraduate papers in therapeutic communication, loss and bereavement, palliative care, and contributed to the drug and alcohol training programme. Peter has ‘loved working in the postgraduate teaching area because they’re all old people like me, and particularly people who have come back to education’. His passion for postgraduate education grew from his personal experience of returning to university in 1991. He described postgraduate courses as ‘diplomas of second chance. That was my story’, and expressed his gratitude to Professor Robert Beaglehole, the Head of the Department of Community Health, who ‘gave me a second chance and got me directly into postgraduate without an undergraduate degree’ in public health. While it is now more common for students to be admitted into courses without undergraduate training in the same field, ‘twenty-five years ago it was way less common, so he was wonderful, I owe him a lot’.1
Peter Huggard on joining the Goodfellow Unit
Peter Huggard became responsible for organising the Goodfellow Unit Symposiums when he took over the role as Director in 2008. That year, the Symposium increased to 530 general practitioners, primary health care nurses, sponsors, and exhibitors who travelled from around Auckland, Northland, and the Waikato. 2 Organising a Symposium was a new experience for Peter. He remembered printing each speaker’s PowerPoint presentation and ‘putting them in a binder that probably never got looked at again. But we thought that was the thing to do’.3
Peter Huggard (far right) organised country dancing lessons and other forms of interactive entertainment during the Goodfellow Symposiums
As was the case with his predecessor Ross McCormick, Peter credited the support he received from Bruce Goodfellow and other members of the board of the Goodfellow Foundation when he sought to explore new ventures as the Director of the Unit. They were ‘really supportive of trying new territory, taking risks, and seeing where things could go’ and offered a ‘sounding board and they would they ask the right questions’ from a business perspective.4
Peter Huggard’s fixed-term appointment concluded in 2014 when he accepted a position within the Department of Social and Community Health.