23 Feb 2009

Leading New Zealand epidemiologist farewelled today

6:30 am on 23 February 2009

A man who became known as the father of public health in New Zealand and who made a major contribution to the understanding of the health issues of Maori and Pacific people is being farewelled today.

Dr Ian Prior's funeral is being held in Wellington ..he died last Tuesday at the age of 85.

Dr Prior, who became a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, graduated from Otago University in 1945.

The Ministry of Pacific Islands Chief Executive Dr Colin Tukuitonga says while Dr Prior became a leading epidemiologist his migrant studies on the people of Tokelau will also be remembered.

"He was one of the first people to show that if you leave your island with traditional lifestyle and go to places like Wellington and Auckland your risk of asthma and diabetes, and obesity and all of those things go up."

Dr Prior was also a keen art collector and a patron of the arts.