Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 05-November-2010, Vol 123 No 1325
Obituary: Thomas Hocken
Published in N Z Med J. 1910;8(35):66.
The death of Dr. Hocken was briefly announced in our last issue. The following account of his career, the “Otago Daily Times” of May 18th, will be read with interest. It may be added that, from a professional point of view, he was loved and respected by all his colleagues; he always maintained a high standard of professional conduct, and was always ready to help his juniors:—
“It is with profound regret that we have to Dr. Hocken, whose name has for nearly half a century has been intimately associated with the progress of this city, passed away shortly after 8 o’clock last night. To his friends the news of will cause no surprise, for he had been in ill-health for several months, and his condition had been more or less critical for some weeks past. Both by them and by the public at large, with whom his name had been a household word, and by whom it had probably not been known that his illness was so grave, sincere sorrow will be expressed at the loss by Dunedin of a citizen like Dr. Hocken—one whose ideals of were so lofty and so inspiring—and at the realisation of the fact that his familiar, dapper figure will no more be seen in the streets of the city for which he entertained so great an affection.
Dr. Hocken has been for nearly half a century so essentially part and parcel of the life of our city that his familiar figure will be sadly missed. For all that long period his name has been the synonym for all that is kind, and gentle, and sympathetic. It needed but the unfolding to him of a tale of distress or misfortune to ensure an immediate response from his sympathetic nature.
He was indeed generous to a fault. Nor were his benefactions confined to such cases. His response was prompt and liberal to applications of all kinds where the public good was concerned. No worthy object was refused help if he were appealed to on its behalf, and he was never weary himself of taking his full share of active work in the promotion of worthy subjects.
"Dr. Hocken, who was born at Stamford on 14th January, 1836, studied for his profession at Durham University and at Dublin, and gained his diploma as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1860. Subsequently he was for about two years surgeon on board the steamer Great Britain, well known as a passenger vessel between England and Australian ports.
It was in 1862 that he settled in Dunedin, and commenced the practice of his profession. " As the community grew his practice extended, and his material interests flourished. Ever recognising the duties of citizenship, he undertook many public duties. For 22 years he held the important post of coroner for the city, and discharged the duties of the this position with the greatest credit. He became one of the honorary surgeons with which his services were highly valued, and in the more important scholastic world was appointed the first lecturer on surgery to the Otago University on the establishment of that institution. Though his official connection with its teaching staff ended many years ago, Dr. Hocken maintained a long and useful connection with the University by virtue of his appointment to a seat on the council.
In 1883 he was nominated by the Government as a life member of the governing body of the institution, and a few and weeks ago, on the position of vice-chancellor becoming vacant through the elevation of Mr. Jas. Allen, M.P., to the chancellorship in succession to Judge Williams, Dr. Hocken was elected vice-chancellor—an honour at once well deserved by the recipient and delighted in, in its bestowal, by the council as a whole,
Dr. Hocken proved a most valuable worker in connection with the Otago Institute, and on three separate occasions his services were acknowledged by his election to the office of president.
In social work Dr. Hocken was ever active. At all times he took a very keen interest in philanthropic enterprises, and was a keen supporter of those most deserving social organisations—the Patients' and Prisoners' Aid Society, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and for many years he interested himself warmly in the affairs of St. Paul's Church and pro-Cathedral, and was one of the steady collectors of funds for the work of the church and for the cathedral, which some day it is intended shall add grace and dignity to the prominent site above the Octagon on which the present building stands.
"With one particular form of activity Dr. Hocken’s name will be permanently associated in this community. He devoted himself indefatigably to the collection of manuscripts, maps, plans, pictures and all descriptions of literature relating to the early history of New Zealand. His energies were directed to this end for many years, and the result of his arduous labours is seen in the magnificent collection which, generously conferred by him upon the people of the dominion, is now permanently housed in the addition to the Otago Museum known as the Hocken Wing.
So much has been justly said and written concerning that noble gift, that it is unnecessary here to do more than mention the fact—the gift is in itself an enduring memorial of him. As a consistent contributor to the ‘Transactions of the New Zealand Institute’ and the records of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science of many papers of historic and general interest, Dr. Hocken achieved a merited fame.
As an author Dr. Hocken published in 1895 his valuable ‘Contributions to the Early History of New Zealand,’ which will always remain a standard authority upon events relating to the colonisation of the dominion. In 1903 he visited the Old Land to collect materials for a fuller edition of his work, while a little later he completed the publication of his 'Bibliography of New Zealand'—a work upon which he was engaged for many years, and which represents a notable monument of his industry, not only by reason of the comprehensiveness of the bibliography, but also by reason of the interesting annotations that are incorporated in it.
In 1884 Dr. Hocken's contributions to science were recognised by his election to the Fellowship of the Linnaen Society."
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