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Acknowledging a pioneer this Matariki

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

National News

Mānawatia a Matariki, happy Māori New Year! We are excited to join the rest of the country in celebrating the first ever public holiday this Friday (24 June) marking Matariki, the start of the Māori New Year. It’s an opportunity for us to embrace our distinctive national identity and a time to reflect on the past, celebrate the present and look forward to the promise of a new year. 

Founded in 1936, Family Planning has supported New Zealander’s sexual and reproductive health needs ever since. We have a proud history and often reflect on the heavy lifting done by those who have gone before us - the pioneers of Family Planning worked tirelessly, sometimes at risk of imprisonment and always at risk of judgement, to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights for women in New Zealand. 

This Matariki we’d like to acknowledge the work of one of our pioneers and long serving staff members, Dr Katharine Bowden, who passed away recently at the age of 93. 

Katharine was the third ever Family Planning doctor and the first doctor at our Whangārei Clinic, which she established in the 1970s. It took great courage and resolve to establish the clinic. Opposition was rife, from the medical establishment and from many in the community who were displeased at the notion of a woman being able to control her fertility. Katharine and her clinical colleagues at the time, Dr Alice Bush and Dr Ruth Black, left a legacy for generations of Family Planning clinicians to come.

Katharine’s fascinating story has been covered on Auckland University’s Early Medical Women of New Zealand page.  

Katharine’s work to establish a clinic in Whangārei is well known to this day. Just two days before her death we opened a new, better located and more client-focussed clinic in Whangārei.  

As we look towards the future, we remember our pioneers and continue their legacy to provide essential sexual and reproductive health services accessible to all.

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.