Neurological Foundation Executive Director Max Ritchie recognised with Royal Honour

Tuesday, 2 June, 2015

Neurological Foundation Executive Director Max Ritchie, centre, with Sir Graeme Douglas, left, and Foundation Council Chairman Ian Robertson.

The National Council of the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand congratulates Executive Director Max Ritchie following today’s announcement that he is to be made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to health and the community.

Neurological Foundation Council Chairman Ian Robertson says Mr Ritchie has been a key influence on the charitable sector for over 30 years, and carries the utmost respect of his peers.

“It is clear to the Council and colleagues that Mr Ritchie has an extraordinarily high commitment to improving outcomes for the health and welfare of all New Zealanders. His leadership of the Neurological Foundation for the past 21 years, and of the Wellington Division of the Cancer Society prior to that, has seen the implementation and establishment of many ground-breaking initiatives that have impacted on patient care, research and the community,” Mr Robertson says.

These initiatives include the establishment of the successful Daffodil Day campaign in New Zealand in 1988, pioneering the first Ronald McDonald House in Wellington in 1989 (there are now three across New Zealand), and fostering the creation of the only human brain bank resource in New Zealand in 1994 to advance neurological research nationally.

Mr Robertson says “In the past more than two decades at the helm of the Neurological Foundation, Mr Ritchie has made an impressive contribution to medical research in New Zealand by raising more than $100 million to advance our understanding of brain diseases. Further, he has championed the fundraising for the positions of the Neurological Foundation Chair of Clinical Neurology (Auckland) and Neurological Foundation Chair in Neurosurgery (Dunedin). These professorial positions are pivotal to the advancement of neurological, neuroscientific and neurosurgical research and patient care, across both treatment and rehabilitation.”

Mr Ritchie was born in Auckland in 1941 and attended Kohimarama Primary School, Auckland Grammar School and Selwyn College before being selected for training at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in 1959. He was commissioned into the New Zealand Army in 1961 and served in a variety of appointments in New Zealand and overseas. He was on active service in Malaya (1964), Malaysia (Borneo and Johore) in 1965 and Vietnam (1970). He commanded the School of Infantry, Waiouru (1975 – 1978), the Otago-Southland Army Area and the 4th Battalion RNZIR (1978 – 1980). From 1982 to 1984 he was the New Zealand Instructor at the Australian Command and Staff College, Queenscliff. He attended the US Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, in 1974/1975 and then the Advanced Infantry Command Course at the British School of Infantry at Warminster.

Mr Ritchie took early retirement from the Army in 1985 to change his career from the armed services to community work.

Mr Robertson says that in addition to his direct contribution to the charitable sector, Mr Ritchie has inspired generations of colleagues and encouraged them to raise goalposts by example. “The charitable environment is often led by those who remain true to their organisation’s objectives and to benefiting the community. Mr Ritchie is such a leader and it is pleasing that his contribution has been recognised with a Royal Honour.”