Paediatrics and Community Child Health
Designatory Letters: 
MB Otago 1947, DCH Eng 1952, MRCP Edin 1953, MRACP 1955, MRCP Lond 1958, FRACP 1971, FRCP Edin 1972, FRCP Lond, 1989


David Henry Hamilton Pullon was born on November 16th, 1923 in Christchurch. He was the elder son of Dr. Edwin and Mrs. Jean Pullon. He was educated at Medbury Preparatory School, Christ’s College, and then Otago University, graduating MB ChB (NZ) in 1947.

After 3 years in posts at Christchurch Hospital, he was appointed House Physician at Edgware General Hospital, Middlesex, London. There he gained the Diploma in Child Health in 1952, and MRCP (Edinburgh) in 1953. Whilst a medical Registrar at St. Mary’s Hospital Paddington, London, he had to return to NZ, after his father died suddenly in mid-1953. Back in Christchurch, David completed the MRACP in 1955. He decided to return to Britain, where he became a House Physician at The Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond St., London. In 1958 he gained his MRCP (London).

Shortly afterwards he returned to New Zealand and in 1960 was appointed as the second specialist Paediatrician at the Waikato Hospital, in Hamilton. Over the subsequent 28 years he was very involved with the development of the Paediatric Department, right through until his retirement in late 1988. In 1969/1970 David took a considerable part in establishing and raising funds for the Waikato Mothercraft Unit. He also worked for the Dept. of Health, the IHC Society, and in private practice.

David wrote about toxoplasmosis, and then with others about amoebic meningo-encephalitis, of which he had a number of cases in his area. He was elected FRACP in 1971 and FRCP (Edinburgh) in 1972. Of Inborn Errors of Metabolism he was the first to describe cases of Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome in NZ. David also had a number of cases of phenylketonuria and homocystinuria. After publishing papers on these, he was invited by Professor Bob Guthrie to be an international guest speaker on homocystinuria at Heidelberg, in Germany in 1978. With the support of Professor Guthrie, David worked with Professor Arthur Veale to establish the NZ national screening programme, using the heel-prick samples collected from all newborns on to the Guthrie card. With his now well known interest in inherited metabolic disorders, David became a member of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia in 1979. Membership of the Australian College of Paediatrics followed.

David served on the Waikato Medical Research Committee from 1973 – 1988. He was a strong supporter of the Waikato Postgraduate Medical Society. He chaired the Waikato Hospital Pharmacy Committee from 1975- 1988, and represented the NZMA on the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee reporting to the Minister of Health from 1985 -1988. In 1988 he was elected Honorary Life Member of the Paediatric Society of New Zealand, and in 1989 was elected FRCP (London). In his retirement he regularly attended the Waikato Hospital Grand Round, where he was renowned for often having a difficult question prepared.

Outside of medicine, David was a middle distance runner in his youth, breaking several school records whilst at Christ’s College. He skied for the University of Otago, and became an adept trout fisherman. In his retirement he wrote “A Hamilton Pedigree” and “The Hamilton Diaries” about his mother’s family. In 1994 he also wrote “Pullon Kinsfolk”, describing his father’s family. His interest in natural history led to his membership of the Royal Society of NZ.

David married Margaret Weir Hanna of the Upper Murray district of Australia in 1953. He is survived by her, a daughter, two sons, and six grandchildren. His daughter Susan and son Humphrey followed him in to medicine.

[This obituary has also been published in the NZMJ]