Campbell Heywood Maclaurin FRCS FRACS FRNZCGP
General Surgeon
5 November 1926 - 3 December 2018

Campbell Heywood Maclaurin (known as Cam) was born in Dannevirke to Colin Maclaurin, a general practitioner and surgeon, and Dorothy Mirams, homemaker.  With an uncle a general practitioner in nearby Fielding, Cam entered a medical family. He was the eldest of three boys with younger brothers, Jim and Brian.  He attended Dannevirke Primary School and then Dannevirke High School, becoming a keen tennis player, also playing the piano and the bagpipes during this time.

On leaving school Cam entered Otago University, residing at Knox College.  Successfully completing his medical intermediate year, he gained entry to Medical School graduating MBChB in 1950.  Each of his brothers followed this path – Jim becoming a general practitioner and Brian a physician (and associate professor of medicine).

Following house officer jobs for two years in Wellington, Cam travelled to Britain where during the next four years he obtained surgical experience in several of the London regional hospitals.  He very quickly gained his FRCS, achieving this just three years post medical qualification. While in the UK Cam married Diana Ward, a nurse, and they had two boys – Simon and Gerald.

Cam, Diana and their two children returned to New Zealand in 1956, when Cam was appointed initially to the fledgling Cardiothoracic Surgical Unit and shortly thereafter full time General Surgeon at Greenlane Hospital.  He became FRACS in 1957.  In 1958 he secured a position as Consultant Adult and Paediatric General Surgeon to the Auckland Hospital.  It was here that lifelong friendships flourished with leading Auckland medical figures of the day, and this had a major influence on the subsequent progress of Cam's career.  Following their return to New Zealand, the family increased in size with the arrival of two further boys – Richard and Nigel

A brief interruption in 1964 saw Cam undertake a twelve-month tour of duty as leader of the NZ Civilian Surgical Team in the South Viet Nam provincial city of Qui Nhon. This was a bold move on his part and involved taking his family into a warring unknown country against both family and professional career advice. In fact, it turned out to be a high point of family life, an extraordinary time for them all and one where, caring for civilians wounded in the war, he was able to make a difference.

Returning from SE Asia to his post at Auckland, Cam's experience and technical skills enabled him to perform New Zealand’s first live kidney transplant as part of the new Renal Service.  But it was not only for his technical ability that stood Cam out - his encouragement and support of the trainee surgeons who came under his wing, as well as his patience and encouragement, was legendary.  Consequently, there was always competition amongst trainees to work on the "Maclaurin run”, where their chief always expected them to offer a possible solution when seeking advice. It was during these years at Auckland Hospital that Cam, with others, was instrumental in establishing the highly successful Auckland-based surgical training scheme, the forerunner of what became the RACS Northern Regional Scheme.

As an educator Cam was tireless, and in 1975 he was appointed Post-graduate Dean of the Auckland School of Medicine.  He was subsequently appointed Deputy Dean retaining this post until his retirement in 1992.  In this role he championed the establishment of the post-graduate Goodfellow Unit for General Practice, becoming surely the only NZ surgeon elected FRNZCGP. As part of this role he became an advisor to WHO on Continuing Medical Education in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Singapore and Malaysia. Following his retirement, he also made a number of trips to India, Fiji and Mongolia on behalf of WHO, helping develop post-graduate training.

Cam served terms on the University of Auckland Council, the NZ Medical Association, and the Medical Research Council.  He was also a member of the Medical Practitioner’s Disciplinary Committee for 5 years. This was frequently a stressful and challenging task, but one he performed with great care and respect for all involved.  He also served terms as an executive member of the New Zealand Volunteer Service Abroad National Committee, the Motherhood of Man Committee and the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand.

Alongside this full and busy professional life, Cam was the devoted husband of Di and father to their four sons spending many happy times, first in camping trips to remote spots all over the North Island and then sailing in their 28 foot keeler yacht which he built with his old friend and colleague Derek North. Like his father before him, Cam was a talented cabinet maker in his spare time and his furniture is still to be found in Di’s home and those of other family members. 

In retirement Cam and Di spent many happy hours in their delightful garden, and up at their cottage on the Mahurangi Harbour, travelling often to visit family overseas.


Cam is survived by wife Diana and sons, Simon, Gerald, Richard and Nigel, two of whom followed their father into medicine, and eleven grandchildren and one great grand-daughter. He is remembered as a wonderful father, grandfather, surgical colleague, and friend.

This obituary was prepared by Murray MacCormick FRACS and members of the Maclaurin family.