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Rina Moore

Psychiatrist (1923-1975)

New Zealand’s first Māori women doctor was brought up under great pressure to succeed, but sometimes resented being held up as an example of possible Māori achievement. Rina Ropiha had links to Te Whānau-ā-Apanui on her mother’s side, and Ngāti Kahungunu and Rangitane on her father’s. Her parents were also both part European, and Ropiha was brought up with an English nanny to the age of eight.1

In 1943 Ropiha began studying medicine at the University of Otago. She married in her second year, becoming Rina Moore, and in her third year had her first child. Her mother and in-laws both assisted her in combining motherhood and medical study. Moore worked at a psychiatric hospital in Nelson for some time. She was also a dynamic social force, attempting to break down the stigma attached to mental illness, advocating for sex education in schools, and becoming one of New Zealand’s first doctors to prescribe the birth control pill.2


1. Charlotte Macdonald, Merimeri Penfold, and Bridget R. Williams, The Book of New Zealand Women (B. Williams Books, 1991).

2. New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu Taonga, ‘Moore, Rina Winifred’, Web page, accessed 8 August 2017, /en/biographies/5m56/moore-rina-winifred.

This profile is part of the series 150 Women in 150 Words that celebrates women’s contributions to expanding knowledge in New Zealand, running as part of our 150th Anniversary.