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Erich Geiringer


On October 4, 1965, the country’s commercial radio stations added a half-hour “person to person” segment to what at the time were known as women's programmes that allowed for listeners to call in and chat with a host. But it wasn’t until the following decade that the riotous potential of the new innovation would be fully appreciated, thanks in large measure to the often inflammatory, uncompromising eloquence of Dr Eric Geiringer.

Geiringer was a doctor worth listening to—and knowing. Born in Vienna in 1917, he was raised in a staunchly socialist household and studied medicine. Most of the Jewish family fled the continent in 1938, arriving in England, where he worked for a time as a laboratory assistant in Birmingham. (An elder sister who returned to Europe later died in Auschwitz.) In New Zealand, where he settled in the capital the following decade, he significantly widened his resume, as a writer, publisher, Fulbright scholar 1953 and the founder of the New Zealand Medical Association.

Eulogised by his former colleagues as one of the most significant public health figures in New Zealand in the latter 20th century, Geiringer also created an enduring reputation for himself as a combatively left-wing intellectual, both in his own professional circle and in the wider expanse of public broadcasting, in particular the then fledgling Radio Windy in Wellington, where his thickly accented broadsides became a regular Sunday night staple.

His ideas about medicine and life were radical for the time—he was a committed antinuclear activist long before the trend caught on and his liberal views on abortion aroused considerable controversy.

Capping his role as a provocateur was his sartorial style, often wearing a signature black cloak, driving an open-topped, black Armstrong Sidley car, and puffing an ever-present cigarette.

In the classroom, too, Geiringer caused great excitement for students and faculty. “He brought entertainment and colour to our lives,” recalled one shortly after his death. “He challenged social conventions and the established order. He made everybody think. He was an intellectual gadfly, a catalyst for change, a sort of academic pied piper.”


Image header above is a 'placeholder' image while we find an image for this short biography. The image is of a Marriage Canopy from an Unknown Artist/Maker 1867/68, English and is currently at The image was taken as a part of the Google_Art_Project,_Maker_-_Marriage_Can...

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