The future of the southern neurosurgery service is now
assured, with the announcement $3 million has been raised for
the Chair in Neurosurgery at the University of Otago in
A $100,000 donation from RD Petroleum pushed the campaign
over the finish line to $3,054,572.
The campaign was launched in Dunedin on January 20. Since
then a brain walk, bike-riding challenge, house build and
auction, helicopter rides, art and book sales, workplace
fundraisers, an envelope appeal, and numerous other events
have been held in Otago and Southland.
Community events raised money and the campaign's profile,
while southern institutions, businesses, and trusts provided
Campaign committee chairman Dr Brian McMahon said he felt
both happiness and a sense of relief.
"I offer my thanks and congratulations to all those who were
so generous, and to those who worked so hard to secure this
outstanding result in such a relatively short period of
The funds endow the university chair to which Belgian
neurosurgeon Prof Dirk De Ridder has been appointed. He
arrives in Dunedin in February next year.
After a public outcry over a threatened loss of the service
in 2010, a Government-appointed panel decreed Dunedin would
retain neurosurgery. To support the required minimum of three
neurosurgeons, two academic posts would be established.
The joint appointments ensured Dunedin could sustain three
neurosurgeons to form the southern hub of the South Island
Otago University health sciences pro-vice-chancellor Prof
Peter Crampton said the campaign had also secured New
Zealand's first academic neurosurgery unit.
"With Prof Dirk De Ridder arriving soon, I am looking forward
to this unit developing into a leading centre of excellence
for neurosurgery, neurosurgery-related research, and teaching
that will reap important benefits for all New Zealanders."
Otago University vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said
reaching $3 million so quickly was an outstanding
"We are humbled by all these generous contributions that have
now ensured this important professorial position is funded in
Project manager Irene Mosley said the campaign had exceeded
"To me, this is what makes New Zealand, and the South in
particular, such a special place. We still care and we still
know how to get stuck in and find a solution without waiting
for someone else to fix the problem." The campaign would be
formally wound up in February.
Fundraising events planned for the coming months would go
ahead, the extra money providing an important buffer against
low interest rates.
Otago Daily Times editor Murray Kirkness said the
newspaper raised awareness of the neurosurgery campaign, but
its success was due to the goodwill and enthusiasm of the
"When we helped launch the fundraising effort in January, we
asked readers to finish what was started in 2010 when the
South fought the loss of the service.
"The response shows people were willing to back up their
resolve, in a great example of Otago and Southland working
together for their joint benefit."
Southern District Health Board chairman Joe Butterfield
welcomed the news.
"It has been particularly pleasing to see the development of
partnerships with the community and university. This is a new
and innovative way of supporting the sustainability of
smaller health services."
Health Minister Tony Ryall said through a spokeswoman:
"Congratulations on reaching your goal - this is a great
achievement for the community".
RD Petroleum managing director Don Harvey said the company
was proud to support a campaign that ensured Otago and
Southland people had timely access to a critical health
The cause resonated with RD Petroleum because of its work
installing fuel supplies in rural areas that would otherwise
have no supply.