A tribute to Professor Richie Poulton of the Dunedin Study

A tribute to Professor Richie Poulton of the Dunedin Study
October 3, 2023

Many of you have heard the sad news that Professor Richie Poulton has passed away after a battle with cancer. He was only 61. Richie was the Director of the Dunedin Study for 23 years. His passing is a sad loss for our social and health sciences. His work on the Dunedin Study and child poverty reduction was tireless. Our thoughts are with his wife, Dr Sandhya Ramrakha and their daughter Priyanka at this sad time.

Richie became deputy director of the Dunedin Study in 1995, before replacing its founder, Dr Phil Silva, as director in 2000. The study follows the lives of more than 1000 people born between April 1, 1972, and March 31, 1973.

His work and dedication revitalised the study and his championing of longitudinal studies leave a valued legacy in Aotearoa. His deep commitment to poverty and the dedication of his time, his own research and leadership seeking opportunities to change outcomes must not be lost. It is so important we keep this work going with Growing Up in New Zealand at a time where child poverty is worsening.

Richie’s passion for the Dunedin study is best summed up in his own words in discussions with John Campbell for TVNZ’s Sunday programme in what would be his final interview:

“It's the ultimate in pride. The feelings. The responsibilities. The day-to-day activity. The living, the breathing, the heart.  Interactions that really are the… kindest, and some most surprising of all, the types of interactions… The study is the living embodiment of what the feeling of working hard, doing the right thing and caring for people is all about.”

We will all miss him. The Dunedin cohort will miss him.

'Kua hinga te tōtara o Te Waonui a Tāne' (the tōtara in the great forest of Tāne has fallen).

Mauri ora,

The Growing Up in New Zealand Team