Glenn Colquhoun’s Blog: “Lament for a Teacher”


A few months ago I attended a memorial service for Professor Sir John Scott at St Mary’s Cathedral in Auckland. He was an old teacher of mine and someone who very much inspired me in medicine. He taught me in clinical methods at Middlemore Hospital, and I was later attached to his team on my fifth year medical run at the same hospital.  He always seemed to have so much time when he was with patients. Seeing him take a history or examine a patient was like watching Martin Crowe bat. He was a calm centre in the hurly burly of the consultation. I think now that that was a medicine in itself. When I heard that he had died I wrote a waiatatangi or lament for him. It seemed the right way to acknowledge him. It is posted on the website with an English translation. Thanks to all those who have contributed to the site so far. We are starting to build up quite a range of voices. And for those of you browsing then hopefully we’ve planted a seed. We’d love to hear from you.

Lament for a teacher
(For Professor Sir John Scott)

Old man, I remember

none of it now,

those secret manoeuvres,

handed down,

how the body should be tipped,

this way and that,

to reveal its secrets.


Only your sad wet

eyes have remained,

but with these I have

seen everything

that is important.


Doctors die knowing

what is to come,

returning from the field

to fetch themselves when

the time draws near.


What is it that pulls?

Here, in the pit.


A thing removed?


Something growing?


A thing removed?


Something growing?




(Nā tētahi tauira ki tōna kaiako)


E koro, kāore au

i maumahara ērā tohu,

i puta mai i

ngā wāhi ngaro

o te kikokiko.


Mahue noa mai

ō karu pōuri.

Nā rāua i kitea ai

ko te iho,

ko te mauri,

ko te iho,

ko te mauri.


Mōhio nei te tohunga

ko te ngārara

ngōkingōki mai ana.


He aha tērā e ngau ana?


He mea kua ngaro?

E tupu ana?

He mea kua ngaro?

E piki ana?


 – Glenn Colquhoun

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