Ellison, Edward Pohau

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Ngai Tahu-Te Ati Aawa (New Zealand Maori) doctor and administrator

Ellison was descended on both sides from Maori chiefs and also from English whalers and farmers. He was the 11th of 12 children, and was given to his father's cousin Harirota Eyes and her husband as a tamaiti whangai as a baby. His birth parents lived at Waikanae, near Wellington, but his whangai-parents lived in the Taranaki province, so he seldom saw his birth family. When Harirota died in the mid-90s he was returned to his birth family.

His families were followers of the prophet Te Whiti, but Ellison converted to Christianity before he graduated from high school. In school and college he was on provincial teams in rugby, (field) hockey and cricket. In 1919 he graduated from medical school and was appointed chief medical officer for the island of Niue, then in 1923 he was transferred to the Chatham Islands. Later, after post-graduate studies, he was posted to Samoa, Fiji and the Cook Islands, before being appointed director of the Division of Maori Hygiene in the New Zealand Department of Health in 1927. He was posted back to the Cook Islands in 1931 and stayed there for 14 years as chief medical officer and also commissioner of the high court, making tremendous progress in improving the islanders' health with very limited resources. In 1945 he retired from the civil service and went into private practice in Manaia, Taranaki province.

In addition to the OBE (for services to the Polynesian people), he received the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal.

He married twice and had 10 children.


Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Also available at: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/dnzb/


Polynesian, Melanesian
Cook Islands
New Zealand
19th Century
20th Century
Government, Politics, Civil Service, Public Administration
Medicine and Allied Professions
Birth or Infancy
Cousins, Parents' Cousins
Wealthy, Famous, Noble or Divine Adoptive or Foster Families
Temporary Care
Adoptive or Foster Parent(s) Died
Divorce or Premature Death of Adoptive Parent(s)
Adoptees/Fosterees from Wealthy, Famous, Noble or Divine Birth Families
Parents Married (or Partnered) to Each Other
Birth Sibling(s) Remained With or Returned to Birth Family
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