Dr Doug Wilson named Senior New Zealander of the Year

The Ryman Healthcare Senior New Zealander of the Year Award - Te Mātāpuputu o te Tau recognises those who have made a positive contribution to our great nation later in their life. This award gives New Zealanders of all ages the opportunity to express their appreciation and admiration for the achievements of our Senior New Zealander’s.

Dr Doug Wilson Ryman Senior of the Year

Dr Doug Wilson always dreamed of becoming a writer, but for a dyslexic kid, studying medicine seemed a more straightforward path. He went to Otago Medical School, then got a PhD from the University of London, and built an international career as a medical academic, specialising in biomedicine and pharmaceuticals. He’s studied in New Zealand, London, Oxford, Melbourne, and New York. He was the first United States and then global head of medical research for a major international pharmaceutical company.

Currently 83 years old, he has never retired and is on the board of AFT Pharmaceuticals and clinical advisory committees for Ryman Healthcare. He is a skilled science communicator and a leading expert on ageing; he produces a podcast series called Aging for Beginners, gives public lectures, writes blogs for Ryman and Age Concern and makes regular appearances on Kim Hill’s Saturday Morning radio show on RNZ National. At age 70, Doug realised his long-held dream and began a new career as an author: he has now published eleven much-loved children’s books and one for adults: a nonfiction book called Aging for Beginners.


A few word from Doug:


"Winning the award was a surprise, a pleasure and a great privilege. To represent the older community no matter how you define it is an intense honour.


When, during the course of the evening, we heard the various bios of candidates’ from different categories it was apparent there is a dazzling array of new talents with innovations, ideas, interventions, technologies, social engineering, and other wondrous activities that have been both created and implemented. For me this was like opening a magic box of tricks, treasures, and visions of the future. New Zealand is blessed with these new younger imaginative and entrepreneurial individuals, a number of whom were immigrants.

The fact they thought it was fun to talk with me, and enjoy a laugh and share thoughts, was a demonstration how the old and the young can both have firm hands on their futures.

My role going forward is obviously to support as much as I can the older community, while at the same time admiring in public the positive inventions and initiatives which will shape our future, old and young. We are blessed in New Zealand.


My new book Ageing Well: how to navigate a life’s journey in your later years will be published mid-April. I hope it will support many people in believing that their future can be very positive, but as life is complex, we may might face hurdles that need adjustment to our life’s expectations. The more we know the better we can cope. I hope it also presents further evidence for the older community, while facing their individual versions of getting older, that they have great capacity to assess, adapt, and eventually accept how things are. We’re lucky."