An American Prosthetist Returns to New Zealand and Australia
Noel J. Brown *
Editor's Note: Noel J. Brown, President of D.W. Dorrance Company, with his brother, Lloyd, were born in New Zealand. This spring Noel Brown, accompanied by his wife and his mother, returned to New Zealand and visited Australia. We have asked them to report on his trip as follows:
"Accompanied by my wife, Mrs. Noel J. Brown, and my mother, Mrs. Ester C. Brown, I had a very interesting trip to New Zealand and Australia. My reasons for the trip were twofold. First, I was very much interested in visiting the artificial limb establishments in both New Zealand and Australia because of contacts the Dorrance and Hosmer firms have had with them. The other reason was personal in that I was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, and had not returned for a visit there since I left there in My mother, now 73 years old, was also anxious to see her native land. She had never flown before, but enjoyed every bit of the trip and had the exciting experience of landing in New Zealand on her 73rd birthday.
"Forty years ago, the trip from New Zealand to San Francisco took 24 days by boat. The return trip took only 28 hours of actual flying time. Stops were made at Honolulu, Canton Island (very close to the equator), Fiji and Auckland, New Zealand.
"In Honolulu I had the pleasure of a very interesting visit with Mr. Newton of the C.R. Newton Company. We talked of many phases of the limb industry. We were treated to a Honolulu down pour which caused the plane to leave quite late.
"Arriving in Auckland, New Zealand, we had a most interesting visit at the Disabled Servicemen's Reestablishment League Limb Shop. All limb shops in New Zealand are government owned and large shops are located in Auckland. Wllington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. Mr. Binet is the manager of the Auckland facility and I found him most cordial and friendly. There arc several employees in this work shop. They have good fitting rooms and facilities for rehabilitation. We saw the interesting "Kiwi" knee which was developed in New Zealand, and is being used on many of their legs. I also met three bilateral arm amputees who had lost their arms in electrical accidents. One of these was from the island of Samoa and was a native Samoan. They will all be taken care of by the New Zealand government, and were being fitted with their first arms.
"In the evening, they invited me for a showing of Jerry Leavy's film. "A Day In The Life Of An Amputee." These new amputees were greatly surprised at Jerry's dexterity. I was called upon to explain many of his methods.
"Traveling to Wellington by car, a distance of about 500 miles, we passed the most interesting Wiatoma Caves. These underground caves are lit only by the glow of thousands and thousands of glowworms, a sight unique in the whole world. Next we saw the geysers and hot springs of the Rotorua section. A feature I will always remember was a concert by the Maori people. Their singing is most beautiful and the rhythm and beauty of the poi dances is hard to describe. At Lake Taupo we saw 10 to 21 inch trout being caught in numbers. All under 14 inches were thrown back.
"The next stop was Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. My stay coincided with the annual conference of the government artificial limb factories. All artificial limb work in New Zealand is part of the government. Col. C. E. Butcher introduced me to the group, and I gave an informal talk on upper extremity prosthetics. I had a wonderful opportunity to meet the leaders in New Zealand at the meeting. Mr. Arthur Thompson heads the Wellington facility, and has recently gone through the limb school at UCLA. He found it very helpful. He is a most dedicated and friendly person. I had enjoyed his visit to the United States greatly, and was most happy to meet him again. Mr. Jim Henderson of the New Zealand Broadcasting Co. interviewed us both that afternoon, and the tape was later broadcast throughout New Zealand.
"Traveling by plane we reached Dunedin which was the birth place of my mother as well as myself. My mother was thrilled to see the many places she remembered. I saw our old home, looking very much like it did when we left 10 years ago. Here I had a most interesting visit with Mr. Walden Fitzgerald. F.R.C.S., a very well known orthopedist. The most exciting part of the trip was a journey to Queenstown which came next. From there we flew on a small sightseeing plane over the Southern Alps. This little plane flipped in and out of steep valleys with mountain peaks and glaciers and huge water falls, and fjords all around. I have taken main slides and some movies of the trip, and the pictures of this flight are most spectacular.
"After New Zealand, we flew to Sydney, Australia. In Sydney I visited the shop of the International Society for the Welfare of Cripples. Also, I visited the Government Rehabilitation shop which is a very large factory.
Then a very smooth flight by Viscount plane took me to Melbourne. It is hard to believe the size of these Australian cities. Sydney is over two million in population and Melbourne between one and two million. Mr. Richard Masson of Melbourne was my host during my stay here. He has a very progressive and modern upper extremity factory. With him I visited the Children's Hospital and the very large Government Rehabilitation Shop. In Australia, the government makes and furnishes prostheses, but there is also a certain amount done by private firms.
"Everywhere I found a most cordial reception, and much interest in what is being done in the United States in this field.
"Before leaving Australia, we had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful blue mountains in the Katoomba area. This area is somewhat reminiscent of our own Grand Canyon in the United States.
"I will always remember the beautiful New Zealand scenery and the cordiality of the people. In Australia I was impressed by the progressive and pioneering spirit of the people."