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New Year Honours for Donaldson

New Year Honours for Donaldson image

Professor Ivan Donaldson owner of Pegasus Bay Winery has been honoured as a world leader in neurology, but he will celebrate with his other life passion - a glass of very good wine.

The 71-year-old has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year honours for his services to neurology.

Donaldson became the first dedicated clinical neurologist at Christchurch Hospital in 1977, where he helped establish departments for clinical neurology and neurophysiology.

He was integral in bringing the first CT scanner to Christchurch, a machine vital to establishing the inaugural Neurosurgical Department.

He was head of neurology at Christchurch Hospital for nearly 20 years and is a past-president of the Neurological Society of New Zealand.

Building up neuro-science services in Christchurch from "basically nothing" to now having about 12 specialists, was one of the most satisfying aspects of his medical career, he said.

Widely published in medical journals, his most significant work is the internationally regarded Marsdens' Book of Movement Disorders (2011), the result of a near 30-year collaboration with the late Professor David Marsden.

He has been on the board of the New Zealand Brain Research Institute since 2006 and established Friends of the New Zealand Brain Research Institute to raise funds for neurological research.

The New Zealand Brain Research Institute now has about 40 people, including students, working there, he said.

Donaldson's focus is now on wine-making, a passion sparked after his now-wife Chris gave him a book on wine-growing. Together they established Pegasus Bay Winery at Waipara in 1985, which is still family-owned and operated.

They have four sons - three of whom work at the vineyard while the fourth is a lawyer in Ireland - and six grandchildren.

Donaldson said his inclusion in the New Year's honours came like "a bolt out of the blue".

"I was positively overwhelmed. It wasn't something I ever thought about or expected."

He plans to devote his coming years to improving Maori health and wants to play a part in developing a "world-class" neurological institute in Christchurch.

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